Six Degrees of Separation | Judy Blume to Diana Evans

Six Degrees of Separation is hosted by Kate. Each month, everyone starts with the same book and we see where our links take us.

Our starting book for this month’s Six Degrees is Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume. This book is celebrating its 50th birthday this year, having first been published in 1970.

Another seminal book published in 1970 and also celebrating this big birthday is Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. This novel charts the story of a young Black girl, Pecola, growing up in Ohio in 1941. It unflinchingly examines the pernicious and long-lasting effects of growing up in a racist society.  

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is also set in Ohio and also examines insidious racial prejudice through the lens of a Chinese-American family mourning the loss of their troubled teenage daughter, Lydia. It has such an eerie, quiet sadness that stayed with me for a long time after I put it down.

Ma Ling’s account of a fictional pandemic and millennial malaise comes to life in a searing way in Severance, where Candace, a second-generation Chinese immigrant like Ng’s Lydia, stays at her desk, religiously maintaining her routines even as the world falls apart around her, New York City’s careful infrastructure crumbling under the ‘Shen fever’ pandemic. (Incidentally, one of my top books of 2020).

Can we even talk about millennial fiction without mentioning Sally Rooney, the ‘poster child’ for millennial literature? I feel like I read a lot of millennial lit, being a millennial and all, but Sally Rooney has gone truly global with her first two novels. I enjoyed Normal People, Conversations with Friends less so.

I don’t know whose idea it was to publish books called Normal People and Ordinary People within a year, but I got the two of them confused for several months (until I actually read them – they’re very different). So that brings me to Diana Evans; Ordinary People charts the lives of two multiracial British families navigating shifting identities that come with parenthood and the renunciation of careers in the pursuit of domesticity, and Diana Evans writes with such poise and insight and precision.

Thanks for reading my December 6 Degrees! If you participated, let me know where your links took you.

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