Reviews

Review: Anusha of Prospect Corner – A. M. Blair, Maram Ken and Samira Ken

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Book cover: A sign post with the word “Prospect” in front of a hedge

A biracial main character. And even better, a main character that’s biracial and a quarter Sri Lankan descent. This is the closest I’ve ever got to reading about a main character that is similar to me. Disclaimer: I am a quarter Sinhalese Malaysian, so not exactly the same ethnicity.

Anusha of Prospect Corner is inspired by Anne of Green Gables. How could I not want to read it? I loved the series when I was younger.

The two main characters are Anusha and her mother Pramila; Anusha is a quarter Sri Lankan American and her mother is half Sri Lankan American. It’s an #ownvoices book, as one of the authors is half Sri Lankan American and two of the authors are a quarter Sri Lankan American. 

Now you know my reasons for choosing this book, let’s get to the reviewing!

The Good

I had such a weird feeling while reading this book, as I was actually able to relate to some of the experiences that Anusha and Pramila had. I’ve never been represented like this before, so it took me a long time to get used to it. People not knowing where Sri Lanka is; people asking where I’m originally from; and the mispronounciation of my name (even though my name is Irish) – these are all things that have actually happened to me.

One of the characters in the book has divorced parents. In my opinion, this situation was well-written and continued throughout the whole story.

There are so many different diverse characters in the book. Anusha and her family are of Sri Lankan descent, Dee has Trinidadian descent and Gavin is described as having brown skin. A lesbian couple is casually mentioned. A lot of books are still filled with white, heterosexual characters – it was lovely to read a Middle Grade book that didn’t stick to the usual.

Anusha has red hair and is a quarter Sri Lankan American. It’s interesting to read about her relationship to her hair colour and how this is influenced by her heritage. I can relate to how weird it is to have a feature that people do not expect a multiracial person to have (in my case, green eyes not red hair).

What I absolutely loved about the story was that it was inspired by Anne of Green Gables and not the same story. At the beginning, I thought it would be the same just with Sri Lankan American influences, which was rather confusing. However, after realising that it wouldn’t, I was able to ease into the story.

The Bad

If there were any white people in the book, they were not described as being white. I’m however assuming there were some. The skin colour of white people is almost never mentioned in books, which I think allows readers to assume that white is the norm. Thus, I would have prefered it, if these characters were directly described as being white.

Most of these descriptions were only mentioned in passing. I wasn’t sure what I thought of this. I’m leaning towards wishing that it would have been more direct on the whole.

This is a personal issue that I have with Pramila and not criticism of the way the character was wirtten. Pramila is only described as being half Sri Lankan American, the other half is not mentioned. As a multiracial person, I know that most people only want to know which non-white ethnicity/ethnicities a multiracial person has and don’t care whether they might have Caucasian ethnicity. Therefore, I would have prefered it if Pramila’s complete ethnicity had been described. 

All in all

It may seem like I had quite a few issues with the book but overall I enjoyed the book. It could have been a bit longer and more detailed. Nevertheless, it was worth reading. Some of the scenes were so relatable, I felt like I was reading about my own life. It feels great to be represented!

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4 out of 5 stars; What I liked: quarter Sri Lankan American MC; several POC characters, good representation of multiracial people; What I disliked: vague descriptions of POC and white characters

How often have you read a book in which you feel like you have been represented? Have you read Anusha of Prospect Corner? Would you like to read it?

5 thoughts on “Review: Anusha of Prospect Corner – A. M. Blair, Maram Ken and Samira Ken

  1. Thank you for reading and reviewing our book! Your criticism is valuable as we continue to think about how to represent characters in our novels.

    Prospect Corner is modeled after where I live with my children, which is also where I grew up, and it’s hard to say whether white is the norm here. Our area doesn’t have a racial majority, and our school district is probably majority-minority now (one of the reasons I wanted to move back here). So, we envisioned Prospect Corner as a majority-minority place, but it sounds like we needed to describe it more clearly because I don’t want readers to assume that white is the norm. In my mind, Mrs. Lowry and her son are white (and described as blond, but that’s not a trait only white people have), and they are similar to the older residents where we live.

    As for Pramila, she and I share a background. Her father is mentioned briefly as having red hair–as my father has–but we didn’t go into his ethnicity (and obviously, non-white people have red hair too). It is an oversight. However, to some degree, it is also because Pramila doesn’t fully experience life as a white person, and so she doesn’t think about that portion of her ethnicity as much as she thinks about the other half. I know that isn’t the experience of all multiracial people, but that’s the way it is for me.

    Thanks again for these comments! I really appreciate it, and I will share them with my children.

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    1. I totally understand what you mean. I thought about the book for a long time because I didn’t want to unfairly criticise. Being POC in Germany is very different to being POC in the US (I assume). POC are never seen as being German in their own right in Germany – we have to fight to actually be recognised as valid Germans. Just last week, somebody told me that he accepts that I’m German but I have to understand that the other Germans are wary about Muslims. So does he see me as German or not? I would answer, that he sees me as a ‘not-proper’ German. I also get the feeling that people are more likely to accept my nationality if I say that my dad is white German (they get so irritated when I say he is white German) – but also they are more likely to not care about that half. I tell people all the time that I am half white German, to make them realise that multiracial people as well as German POC exist and that we can have German passports. I guess this is why I felt it was missing. However, this was as I mentioned just a personal issue I had and not a problem in the story.

      About the description, I am wary about assuming the ethnicity of someone by their name as my siblings all have very European names even though we’re POC. I’m hoping that in the future we don’t have to say directly what people look like but I think we aren’t there yet.

      Please tell your co-writers that I really enjoyed the book. 😀

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