Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Your Face in Mine by Jess Row

by Alida Hanson

A unique, challenging novel about race identity. Kelly Thorndike is born white and lives in Baltimore as a teen. He studies Chinese in college, goes to China, marries a Chinese woman, and has a baby. He meets a black man on the street in Baltimore who turns out to be his old band mate from high school, Martin.

When Kelly and Martin played in the band together, Martin was white. He has undergone race reassignment surgery, a practice he has developed with a surgeon in Thailand, and is launching as an international company. He's trying to brand the process and introduce it to the world. He hires Kelly to write a think piece for a national publication about himself and his company.

Your Face in Mine has two sides to it. The first is a thoughtful exploration of race and race identity, and what make us who we are. The second is a fast paced, cerebral and science-fiction-y caper that I had trouble following. It reminded me sometimes of Philip K. Dick and J.G. Ballard, two of my all time favorite authors.

I'm glad I read it, and I think it's important. I suppose I would have to read it again to get all the nuances in the solipsistic conversations of the characters.

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