The Weight of Blood takes inspiration from Stephen King’s Carrie, retelling the classic horror novella through a racial lens.
When I saw this cover, I thought, “is this a Carrie retelling?” On a superficial level, it most certainly is.
But when you read the story, it is so much more than that.
The novel follows Madison – Maddy – after her hair gets wet in a rainstorm exposing the fact that she is biracial. Having spent her life pretending to be white at the behest of her fanatical father, Maddy’s biracial status opens her up to more bullying.
You’ll have to forgive me a little here because, even now, I’m struggling to explain how this novel made me feel.
The Weight of Blood is such a fantastic novel. Jackson uses different mediums to write the story, from podcasts to newspaper clippings, interviews, and third-person narratives; Jackson builds the plot from multiple directions.
We see the plot development of the legend of Maddy and the form it has taken by the time the podcast airs, which appears to be a few years after the deadly prom. As readers, we see an objective party take apart the events leading up to that fateful night. In addition, the podcast explores other alternatives, both logical and scientific, to explain what happened rather than continue villainizing a mistreated girl.
Throughout the narrative, Jackson explores the racism in the town of Springville and the white privilege that follows it.
Kendrick is the “token black guy,” the only African-American accepted into the ranks of the white upper-class citizens because he is the star quarterback. As a result, he turns a blind eye to racism.
Racism is so ingrained in the town that when someone does “blackface,” no one bats an eye. It is just a joke, they say. And Kendrick soon sees that by going with the flow and ignoring his “blackness,” he allows racism to foster.
He may have never bullied Maddy, but he is guilty of standing aside and doing nothing. And through the events, he is learning to be better, act better and be more empathetic. He was taught to keep his head down, but you can’t keep your head down when you see injustice, nor should you.
There is so much to explore in The Weight of Blood. Jackson explores not just white privilege but also of light-skinned privilege. She explores the internalized and externalized anti-Blackness that exists. It is brutalizing that it exists to the point that it becomes “a natural part of life.”
The Weight of Blood is a brilliant novel, and Maddy is a force to be reckoned with.
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|Pub Date: September 6, 2022||Page Count: 416pp||Age Range: 14 & Over|
|ISBN: 9780–0630-2914-9||Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books||List Price: $18.99|