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  • Writer's pictureEvangeline Lawson

Passing by Nella Larsen

The fact that this Passing by Nella Larsen was written in 1929 does not take away from its relevance, but instead empahsizes the power of story-telling and how when done correctly, can make a book timeless.

While it may not be a subject that people discuss all that much today, "passing" for white when you are in fact Black definitely was as controversial then as the concept may be now, but often drums up other questions about the reason behind why someone would choose to do so. Especially in light of the associated risks.

In this story of two "friends" who happen to cross paths after some time, only to unveil that one is passing while the other is not (although technically they both could), brings up broader discussions of integrity, colorism, and racism. The storyline, while simple, is engaging, with an interesting view into relationship dynamics (both romantic, platonic, and familial), with this overwhelming tone of dark and doom ,as the story of Clare and Irene develop.

I chose the audible version of this book, narrated by Tessa Thompson, who's voice lends to the ominous nature of the story (might I also add, that she is starring in the film adaptation). I think this book would be great for a book club selection, not just because it is a quick read/listen, but because of the debate/discussions and reviews it would faciliate.

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