Book Reviews · Fiction · Science Fiction · Suspense · Suspense

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Happy pub day, Maurice Carlos Ruffin! I’ve had my eye on this book since I started my TBR list, 19 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2019. Actually, I stumbled upon it during one of my million visits to Netgalley and just thought the premise was interesting and knew I had to get my hands on a copy.


How far would you go to protect your child?

Our narrator faces an impossible decision. Like any father, he just wants the best for his son Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is growing larger by the day. In this near-future society plagued by resurgent racism, segregation, and expanding private prisons, our narrator knows Nigel might not survive. Having watched the world take away his own father, he is determined to stop history from repeating itself.

There is one potential solution: a new experimental medical procedure that promises to save lives by turning people white. But in order to afford Nigel’s whiteness operation, our narrator must make partner as one of the few Black associates at his law firm, jumping through a series of increasingly surreal hoops–from diversity committees to plantation tours to equality activist groups–in an urgent quest to protect his son.

This electrifying, suspenseful novel is at once a razor-sharp satire of surviving racism in America and a profoundly moving family story. Writing in the tradition of Ralph Ellison and Franz Kafka, Maurice Carlos Ruffin fearlessly shines a light on the violence we inherit, and on the desperate things we do for the ones we love.

My thoughts

Honestly I should have 2 separate reviews for my feelings. Part of me can’t get over how timely this novel is. Do you want to know the scariest thing about satire? How terrifying real it can seem. Take this book. Even though it should seem absurd that people would go through an extremely expensive medical procedures to change the color of their skin as a method of surviving, not even thriving, in daily living. Sadly, it’s not as preposterous as it seems and it serves as a fantastic warning for what’s to come if we don’t address racism in our present society.

Unfortunately, I personally struggled to connect to the book. Perhaps it’s just me… maybe I’m just not connecting to books like I should. The current review trajectory is 4+, which is phenomenal for Goodreads. I wanted to love it, I know I should’ve loved it… I tried to force myself to love it. Unfortunately, I struggled with focusing, and once my attention goes out the window it’s all over. Even so, this was a timely, thought-provoking debut novel by Ruffin that I still would recommend checking out if the premise resonates with you. Thank you so much to One World for providing my advance copy. It’s my privilege to share my honest thoughts and opinions with our readers!

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