Thursday, June 15, 2017

Virgin Soul

I recently picked up a copy of the book Virgin Soul at the library. It looked like it might be an interesting read, and it was. I thought I would share with you what I thought of the book today.

The Story

Geniece is a young woman who is off to college. Everyone knows that those years are the years when individuals grow into someone new. There are loads of new ideas and experiences. Geniece is no different. It's the late sixties, and she wanders through the world of the extremes in  California universities. She becomes a black panther. And she is tested on how far she is willing to go for that movement.

What I Think

I liked this book, and I didn't like this book. I know how can that be? I've thought about it. Geniece is a character I understood. She is person with strengths and weaknesses. And I think the author wanted her to be that way. She is intelligent, but at times she does some really foolish things. Like the incident where Geniece gets caught shoplifting. You think to yourself, how can someone so smart do something so stupid? There are other incidents that make you wonder that again and again throughout the book.

But I really liked that Geniece is her own person. She makes mistakes, but she isn't afraid to face the truth about the mistakes she makes in life.

The book is also interesting because it shows how and why individuals became involved in the Black Panther movement. Individuals got tired of seeing so many things that were wrong in society. And they decided to fight back. 

But her journey through this world also made me very uncomfortable. And I think that discomfort is what I didn't like about the book. Her journey reminded me of two things. The first was how radicals evolve. I read the book about the time of the London bombings. So it reminded that the individuals who commit those crimes are created. They see an injustice and somehow channel their energies in the wrong way. For the most part Geniece doesn't go as far as those individuals, but she does make some bad choices in the story. We often find ourselves saying why do people commit those acts? It is most often part of a journey for those individuals that ends badly. But often there is something they see wrong in the world at the beginning of that journey. And they decide to do something about the wrong.

And the second thing that made me feel uncomfortable about this book is the way it looks at race issues. Now, remember Geniece is involved in The Black Panther movement. They thoroughly believed in confronting problems head on. There are plenty of reasons for individuals to be angry in the book. There are white policemen shooting young black men. There is police brutality. And that is the exact reason I felt uncomfortable. At first the book struck me as though all the problems The Black Panthers faced were blamed on the white majority. I thought I'm tired of being blamed for all of these problems. But then I thought to myself I felt uncomfortable because some of these issues are still in the headlines. What's up with that?

Overall, the book is well written, but Geniece is a difficult character to like all the time. And it does confront some issues that individuals may be uncomfortable with. While it isn't a difficult book to read, it's not easy either. I think that if you have some hippie roots, you will probably like this book. 

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