Representation in The Good Luck Girls
In our most recent episode, Claire and I discuss The Good Luck Girls by debut author Charlotte Nicole Davis and narrated by Jeanette Illidge. This book is the first of our book club's monthly challenge reads for June where our theme is Frontier Times: Read a book set in the Wild West or Space, the final frontier. Bonus points for space cowboys! Join our book club on Facebook today!
This book was written by a black woman and the audiobook was narrated by a black woman. And this is important! We choose our books months in advance, so we had no way of knowing that there would, currently, right now, right outside, be protests about the tragic loss of black lives. I'm going to use this coincidence to tell you a few things.
First! Black Lives Matter. Yes. This is true, 100%. I want you to know that we at Fictional Hangover believe this. I am a white woman of privilege and I am telling you #blacklivesmatter.
Second! We didn't choose this book to discuss this week because black lives matter. We chose this book to discuss because we wanted a book to fit in with our monthly theme. This book is about the wild west! Perfect fit! Read this article from the Smithsonian all about black cowboys: The Lesser-Known History of African-American Cowboys by Katie Nodjimbadem.
Third! This book is about representation. When we picked it, we had been reading summaries of a few other YA wild west books. I say few because really, there's not just a whole lot of them out there. But this one stood out because it features black girls in the wild west. And you know what? That's important. Here's a little about that from the author in an interview with United By Pop.
Even though I grew up in a part of the country that used to be the Old West, I never took much interest in Westerns when I was a kid. The heroes of these stories—the John Waynes, the Matt Dillons—never looked like me, a queer Black girl. But in reality, Old West was much queerer, browner, and more female than most Westerns like to admit. I liked the idea of writing a fantasy based on the history (both good and bad) of the part of the world I grew up in.
So in the The Good Luck Girls, I made it my goal to reclaim a genre that has erased so many of us from our own history. There are few cultural touchstones more quintessentially American than the Western, and it’s not a coincidence that they’ve come to feature a certain kind of hero at the exclusion of all others. People like Aster, Clementine, and their friends are more likely to be portrayed as the bad guys. They’re the fallen women, the political dissidents, the outlaws on the road–and, maybe, they were the real heroes the whole time.
I loved that, and that's why we picked it. But it just so happens that why we picked it coincidentally lines up with what's going on in the world today. We didn't pick it because we wanted to make a statement. We picked it because we believe in representation in books. Black lives matter.
Until next time,