Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Them: A Novel

Sometime over a year ago, a friend at school recommended a book to me called Them.  She said it was about a white couple that moved into a historically black neighborhood in Atlanta and chronicled the community's struggles and experiences.  We had been discussing gentrification and urban development so I was very interested in the book-which I assumed to be non-fiction.  I ordered it from Amazon and then let it sit on a bookshelf for quite some time.  But apparently, I hadn't looked at it very closely when it arrived because until that point, I still thought it was non-fiction.  In reality, the phrase "a novel" is on the front cover.

It remained on my shelf until the freedom of summer.  Finally one night last summer I was looking for something new to read and went "shopping" on my bookshelves.  I picked up Them, and it wasn't until I began to read the first paragraph that I realized it was a novel.  Yes, this is embarrassing.

But I kept reading and found it to be captivating and very moving.  For anyone who is familiar with Atlanta, it almost reads like non-fiction at times.  The descriptions of streets and neighborhoods are very accurate and realistic.  There is one scene where a character is out for a drive to clear his head and the description of his route was so clear that I could picture every turn he made and what he would have seen on his way.  

The book clearly about race relations and gentrification and does a remarkable job of tackling these difficult subjects.  But it is also a compelling story about a marriage, a community, and an unlikely friendship.  I highly recommend it.

PS: I apologize for not having a picture: most of my books are stored away right now!!


Jacqueline said...

This book sounds really interesting. I will keep the tittle in my book list as i still have quite a few books to read up. hehe Thanks for sharing! Have a lovely merry happy day and love to you!

Carolyn said...

hi there! i found your blog via kimberly's and couldn't help but notice you're a TX gal! tell me, where are you in TX? i'm in austin :)

Caitlin said...

Hi Carolyn!! I'm so glad you commented! I am currently in San Antonio, but as soon as I get a job, I will be in Austin as well!! In the meantime, I'm going back and forth. So nice to meet you!!

M.J. said...

"Historical fiction" is my favorite genre of books-- I may have to check this one out.

Caitlin said...

MJ- I love historical fiction as well. But I don't know if this book is historical fiction. It takes place post-9/11. I guess it would be "realistic fiction". I don't know- how far back does it have to be to be called "historical"? What about books that were written as contemporary, but then 50 years later, are considered historical? Hmmm...I may have to think about this some more :)