A Life Unexamined
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This book’s first person narrator is not named. We meet her as a child and follow her as she and a childhood friend, Tracey, grow up in public housing in London. They are “brown” girls. Then we see the narrator in action as a young adult as an assistant to a famous, white, Madonna-like performer, named Aimee. The chapters move back and forth between Tracey stories and Aimee stories. The Tracey stories feature people who are financially challenged. The Aimee chapters show us the lifestyle of the rich and famous. When Aimee decides to fund a school for girls in West Africa, still another financial class is seen.
The main character lives through all of this without really reflecting on it. So as an unnamed character is she “every man” and are we being forced to reflect on this for her/ourselves?
My favorite part of the book is the narrator’s relationship with her feminist mother. It is also unexamined, forcing us to perhaps rethink our relationships with our own moms as well.
This is the first book I have read by Zadie Smith. I wonder if she always leaves it up to the reader to further examine the situations she sets up?
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