Book Review: IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, sadly as relevant today as when published in 1974

Baldwin, James - If Beale Street Could Talk (4)If Beale Street Could Talk
James Baldwin

Originally published in 1974, sadly, If Beale Street Could Talk is just as timely today as it was then. Fonny and Tish, a young couple who have known each other since childhood are embarking on a romantic relationship when Fonny runs afoul of a white police officer. Shortly thereafter, Fonny is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. Fonny’s lawyer is sympathetic but expensive. Fonny’s mother and sisters disapprove of him, and his father is a troubled alcoholic. Impotent in prison, Fonny relies solely on pregnant Tish and her family and the limited help he can get from his father. While in jail, he, Tish, and their loved ones realize how institutionalized racism is and how difficult to overcome. The victim of the crime is also manipulated by police and is denied justice. This book made me feel sad and angry, even more so because racism in the United States hasn’t improved in almost fifty years. Yet, the love of Tish’s family and the hope embodied by the baby provided a slight solace in the face of so much unfairness and inequity.

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