When I think about it, many reviewers (myself included) rarely acknowledge the background we come from when we’re reviewing representation in a book. #DiverseBookBloggers is one way to acknowledge this. My other example is a bit different. I hesitated to include that I wasn’t part of the same community as Juliet in my review of Juliet Takes A Breath. However, I did share that aspect because I also wanted to acknowledge that I don’t necessarily have the same experiences as a reader who might be a part of that community.
Even though I could relate to so many other aspects of that story, I thought that it was as equally as important to convey that this story will probably mean something more to a reader of a community. Likewise, a critique of another book with LGBTQ representation from me as a reader should not carry the same weight as a critique from an actual member of the community. The implications of privileged perspectives when reviewing books is discussed in depth in Malinda Lo’s post: Perceptions of Diversity in Book Reviews.
On the other hand, as a PoC* reader/reviewer, I may love the cultural representation in one story but a friend (who is also a PoC) may dislike it too. Even though we’re both PoC, our individual experiences will still diverge at times. I know this boils down to acknowledging the subjectivity of our reading experiences but we need to acknowledge what influences subjectivity. We need more than one story because one story does not represent one whole community. See Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story.
I won’t always share how aspects of my identity influence how I read or review but since this is a personal reading blog, I will occasionally reflect upon it. My identity does not define my reading experiences but it certainly still does affect it.
*It’s a little strange for me to use PoC as a term because it’s a term mostly used in America but as with all labels, it’s hard to find any term that encapsulates the complexity of identity. Therefore, it must be noted that there are limitations to the term PoC and how individuals may or may not identify with it.