We Cast a Shadow
A bold, provocative debut for fans of Get Out and Paul Beatty's The Sellout , about a father who will do anything to protect his son--even if it means turning him white. How far would you go to protect your child?Our narrator faces an impossible decision. Like any father, he just wants the best for his son Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is growing larger by the day. In this near-future society plagued by resurgent racism, segregation, and expanding private prisons, our narrator knows Nigel might not survive. Having watched the world take away his own father, he is determined to stop history from repeating itself.There is one potential solution: a new experimental medical procedure that promises to save lives by turning people white. But in order to afford Nigel's whiteness operation, our narrator must make partner as one of the few Black associates at his law firm, jumping through a series of increasingly surreal hoops--from diversity committees to plantation tours to equality activist groups--in an urgent quest to protect his son.This electrifying, suspenseful novel is at once a razor-sharp satire of surviving racism in America and a profoundly moving family story. Writing in the tradition of Ralph Ellison and Franz Kafka, Maurice Carlos Ruffin fearlessly shines a light on the violence we inherit, and on the desperate things we do for the ones we love.

We Cast a Shadow Details

TitleWe Cast a Shadow
Author
ReleaseJan 29th, 2019
PublisherOne World
ISBN-139780525509066
Rating
GenreFiction, Science Fiction, Contemporary, Race

We Cast a Shadow Review

  • Roxane
    January 1, 1970
    Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s debut novel, We Cast A Shadow, is an incisive and necessary work of brilliant satire. Set in the post-post-racial South, We Cast a Shadow tells the story of a man, one of the few black men at his law firm, desperate to pay for his biracial son to undergo demelanization, desperate to “fix” what he sees as his son’s fatal flaw. It is this desperation that drives this novel, that haunts this novel and in this desperation, we see just how pernicious racism is, how irrevocably Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s debut novel, We Cast A Shadow, is an incisive and necessary work of brilliant satire. Set in the post-post-racial South, We Cast a Shadow tells the story of a man, one of the few black men at his law firm, desperate to pay for his biracial son to undergo demelanization, desperate to “fix” what he sees as his son’s fatal flaw. It is this desperation that drives this novel, that haunts this novel and in this desperation, we see just how pernicious racism is, how irrevocably it can alter how a man sees the world, himself, those he loves. In that, We Cast a Shadow is not so much a work of satire. Instead, it is a chilling, unforgettable cautionary tale, and one we should all read and heed.
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  • (Bern) Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas
    January 1, 1970
    3.75 thought-provoking stars for this racially charged work of satirical fiction! Set in a satirical future south, We Cast a Shadow tells the racially fueled dystopian story of a black man desperate to pay for his biracial son's demelanization process. In this future world race is still an issue of injustice. The only way to truly level the playing field is for black Americans to undergo an expensive procedure which turns them white - on the cellular level. Does that sound far fetched to you? Th 3.75 thought-provoking stars for this racially charged work of satirical fiction! Set in a satirical future south, We Cast a Shadow tells the racially fueled dystopian story of a black man desperate to pay for his biracial son's demelanization process. In this future world race is still an issue of injustice. The only way to truly level the playing field is for black Americans to undergo an expensive procedure which turns them white - on the cellular level. Does that sound far fetched to you? The entire book takes everything past and current related to race and turns it on its head, elevating it to a whole new level. Ruffin's writing was at times devastatingly painful and uncomfortable to read but it was also undeniably thought provoking and clever. The main characters are a father and his bi-racial son Nigel. Though a successful lawyer, the narrator (who chose to remain nameless) is plagued with the fear that he doesn't measure up because of his skin color. He desperately wants more for his son and believes the only way to achieve that would be to turn him white. "I don't have to tell you that this is an unjust planet. A dark-skinned child can expect a life of diminished light. This is truth anywhere in the world and throughout most of history." I have very complicated feelings about some of the plot twists in this book. The relationship between the narrator and his son was tumultuous and fraught with heartbreak due to his zealot desire to turn him white. As a parent you can understand his desire to protect his son. Yet, where does protection end and harm begin? It was devastating to read how much racism had affected the narrator's life, destroying his self-worth and his soul. Taking that journey with him, as the story progresses was difficult and just plain sad. I couldn't help but root for Nigel through it all. I fiercely wanted things to be different for this boy. This is a very strong debut from Maurice Carlos Ruffin. The middle lagged a bit for me but I was invested in the story and never doubted seeing it through. I'll definitely be watching out for this author in the future. Thank you to Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Random House Publishing and NetGalley for an advance reader copy of this book to review.
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  • Esil
    January 1, 1970
    3+ starsWe Cast a Shadow is a dystopian satire — if there is such a genre. Intellectually, I thought it was brilliant. But I must admit that I didn’t love reading it. It was a question of genre and style rather than content. Set at some point in the future in the US, life for African Americans has become an exaggeration of what it is today. Levels of surveillance and incarceration are very high. There are fenced ghettos. Etc... The narrator identifies himself as one of the 10% lucky enough to av 3+ starsWe Cast a Shadow is a dystopian satire — if there is such a genre. Intellectually, I thought it was brilliant. But I must admit that I didn’t love reading it. It was a question of genre and style rather than content. Set at some point in the future in the US, life for African Americans has become an exaggeration of what it is today. Levels of surveillance and incarceration are very high. There are fenced ghettos. Etc... The narrator identifies himself as one of the 10% lucky enough to avoid the fate of most African American men. He is lawyer in a large firm. But he is obsessed with the precariousness of his situation and especially with his 13 year old son’s vulnerability. As far as he’s concerned, the solution is a “treatment” increasing in popularity that will make his son white. The idea underlying this novel is clever, the topic is timely and there are many inspired details. But I’m not a great fit for the genre. While I appreciate what Ruffin has achieved, I felt a bit under-engaged as I read this one. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    Release date January 29th!We Cast a Shadow is a debut novel by Maurice Carlos Ruffin that takes place in the near future. Still plagued by racial discrimination blacks now have the option to achieve ultimate assimilation. The story follows an unnamed African American male narrator who seems to have risen above his natal station in life. Working as a lawyer in a prestigious law firm he is willing to do anything to placate his superiors, even masquerade as typical stereotypes to advance his career Release date January 29th!We Cast a Shadow is a debut novel by Maurice Carlos Ruffin that takes place in the near future. Still plagued by racial discrimination blacks now have the option to achieve ultimate assimilation. The story follows an unnamed African American male narrator who seems to have risen above his natal station in life. Working as a lawyer in a prestigious law firm he is willing to do anything to placate his superiors, even masquerade as typical stereotypes to advance his career. His motivation is to raise funds for his son's demelaninization process. A painful process likened to chemotherapy, demelaninization not only strips the bearer of their color but is supposed to reconfigure their genes so that their offspring also come out looking white. Alongside this procedure clients also undergo rhinoplasty and lip thinning to appear more Caucasian. In his mind this is the only way to save his son. His experience has told him that even though he is moderately successful, married to a white woman and lives outside the confines of the ghetto that he is not safe. His color holds him hostage to the prejudicial whims of society. After all, like every other Black man in America, he still has a police officer assigned to “check up” on him regularly “for his own good”. We Cast a Shadow is a biting satire that goes where others fear to tread – self-hatred in the Black community. With the primary focus aimed at this unnamed narrator Ruffin underscores the idea that our protagonist doesn’t even see himself. When he says ”My name doesn't matter. All you need to know is that I am a phantom, a figment, a man who was mistaken.", he really has forgotten who he is and where he comes from. He has disconnected from his past. He is struggling but blind to the impact that his behavior is having on those closest to him. Although dealing with some weighty topics, Ruffin uses humor here and skillfully tackles them all. We Cast a Shadow is a very solid debut. I will definitely be revisiting Maurice Carlos Ruffin in the future.Special thanks to NetGalley, Random House OneWorld publishing group and Maurice Carlos Ruffin for access to this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Tad Bartlett
    January 1, 1970
    (Spoiler-free, as much as possible)Maurice Ruffin performs writer magic in We Cast a Shadow. As the book opens, the reader is settled comfortably into a clever and biting satirical world where race plays a sharpened role in the butcher's shop of office politics of an old-line law firm. The time could be now, and we don't get the sense that if it's not now that it's too far off in the future. The cultural referents and the social/political critiques come fast and furious, as you would expect in s (Spoiler-free, as much as possible)Maurice Ruffin performs writer magic in We Cast a Shadow. As the book opens, the reader is settled comfortably into a clever and biting satirical world where race plays a sharpened role in the butcher's shop of office politics of an old-line law firm. The time could be now, and we don't get the sense that if it's not now that it's too far off in the future. The cultural referents and the social/political critiques come fast and furious, as you would expect in satire. Think Confederacy of Dunces, but the dunces are smarter and the scenery is updated. The magic is that the cleverness and bitingness of the satire settles the reader into understanding the all-too-familiar world of the novel, while an incredibly tender humanity slips into the book almost unnoticed. You start off laughing at (and sometimes with) the characters, slapping your head at the situations, but before you know it you're feeling their various pains and frustrations and sadnesses. Where you begin the book by thinking of the main character's foolishness in his plans for Nigel, and rooting for Penny, by the middle of the book you're sympathizing with his plan and maybe even starting to root for his plan to work, and then you catch yourself rooting for him and feel doubt about your own beliefs. Ruffin has done it--he's pulled you, the reader, or at least your emotions, into the book as their very own set of characters, and your allegiances shift from page to page, shifting the book from page to page. Here's one fairly spoiler-free example of what I mean: In the first half of the book, I found myself actually annoyed at the main character for referring to Nigel as "kid" in a very blithe and seemingly unfeeling way. I thought this was a flaw endemic to the satirical voice, of trying to sublimate real emotion in service of the cleverness of the satire. But by the end of the book I (reader) understood all too well that this emotional distance was part of the fabric of the main character's self-defenses, his attempt to mediate his role as father to Nigel in a world intent on destroying his essence. Without that "hey kid" treatment at the beginning, the ending would be punchless. But with that magic--the holding others at a distance as a means of underscoring the intimate closeness of parents and children--Ruffin creates something that would otherwise be unachievable. Look, I know you want to know more about the book than this. You want to know that the plot will have you turning pages relentlessly; it will. You want to know that the world imagined in the book will make you look more closely at the world around you, in ways that don't just confirm your own biases but make you challenge your accepted and en-bubbled norms; lord, it will. You want to know that the book will make you feel; yes, a thousand times yes--you will laugh and you will cry and you will feel angry and you will even feel happy. This book will do things for you as a reader that most books don't even dare and even fewer achieve. It's released January 29, 2019. Pre-order it now.
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  • OutlawPoet
    January 1, 1970
    As I began to write this review, I asked myself: how do I write this review in such a way that I don’t offend white people? And then the irony of that question hit me like a punch in the gut.In We Cast a Shadow, our main character and most black Americans have spent their lives not only trying not to offend white people, but trying to amuse them, cater to them, and, yes, be them. You see in our near future tale, those with money enough can have a series of procedures to become white. Why do they As I began to write this review, I asked myself: how do I write this review in such a way that I don’t offend white people? And then the irony of that question hit me like a punch in the gut.In We Cast a Shadow, our main character and most black Americans have spent their lives not only trying not to offend white people, but trying to amuse them, cater to them, and, yes, be them. You see in our near future tale, those with money enough can have a series of procedures to become white. Why do they want to be white? Because in our author’s world, racism and segregation are very much back as part of the American Landscape. And to be honest, simply watching the Barbeque Becky’s and torch-bearing White Nationalists of today, the author’s world isn’t quite so implausible.For a black person to succeed in this America, they need to act the minstrel, be perfectly inoffensive, and make absolutely sure that whites don’t see them as a threat.Our main character is desperate for his bi-racial son to be white and only white. And he’ll act the fool and be the perfect Uncle Tom in order to make this happen.Even as his world starts falling apart, that pale skin is the only thing he strives for.The book is enormously painful. Oddly, though, it’s not the white people laughing at, controlling, or demeaning the non-whites that is the most painful.It’s our main character and his absolute lack of pride or respect.The author does an amazing job of getting the reader to truly understand why our character is the way he is. His behavior isn’t any more palatable, but we get it, and in getting it we feel a bit complicit.The book is uncomfortable – and from the first page to the last it doesn’t get less so.Not a happy book, but a relevant one – and I’m glad I read it.*ARC Provided via NetGalley
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. We Cast a Shadow is a sharp satire about race in America. It's set in a dismal, nearish future, when race relations have devolved from where they are today. It's set in an unnamed city in the south (though I think New Orleans based on the references to parishes), with an unnamed narrator, a black man who is desperate to afford a treatment that will make his biracial son white. While it starts out rather humorous in tone, the story soon becomes dark and devastating, and while the scena 3.5 stars. We Cast a Shadow is a sharp satire about race in America. It's set in a dismal, nearish future, when race relations have devolved from where they are today. It's set in an unnamed city in the south (though I think New Orleans based on the references to parishes), with an unnamed narrator, a black man who is desperate to afford a treatment that will make his biracial son white. While it starts out rather humorous in tone, the story soon becomes dark and devastating, and while the scenario seems over the top at first, it becomes clear that it's analogous to the present day experiences of black Americans in many ways. The story started out strong and engrossing, but lagged for me in the middle, and felt overlong at times, so it was not always enjoyable reading, but I did find it important and insightful, and would read more from this author.*I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**Used for PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge prompt "A debut novel."
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  • Kasa Cotugno
    January 1, 1970
    This is the latest novel to explain and deal with the issue of racism in America employing fantasy, magic realism, dystopian concepts, call it what you will. From Underground Railway, to White Tears, to Underground Airlines, to Sing Unburied Sing, among others, authors have eschewed reality because the subject matter is too painful to deal with and offer alternative worlds in which to address the subject. Mostly, as here, they are satirical, thusly carrying an undercurrent of rage, quite appropr This is the latest novel to explain and deal with the issue of racism in America employing fantasy, magic realism, dystopian concepts, call it what you will. From Underground Railway, to White Tears, to Underground Airlines, to Sing Unburied Sing, among others, authors have eschewed reality because the subject matter is too painful to deal with and offer alternative worlds in which to address the subject. Mostly, as here, they are satirical, thusly carrying an undercurrent of rage, quite appropriate especially here. This particular novel has been compared to Get Out and The Sellout, both of which apply. The well meaning father here is trying to help his bi-racial son avoid the pain of being Black in America by seeking a bleaching treatment. I found myself alternately appalled and enraged at a world that would make such a solution desirable. A very timely book given the national atmosphere with hate crimes increasing.
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  • Beverly
    January 1, 1970
    thoughts coming shortly
  • Kara Leann
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to One World and Random House for providing a free copy via Netgalley.This beautifully written book is thought provoking and very timely given the society we are living in today. I thought it gave a scary insight into what we could become if we leave the racism in today's society unchecked. I really enjoyed that the story was told from the father's perspective. I loved seeing how far he was willing to go to protect his son even when it was questionable. My favorite part was the reunion Thank you to One World and Random House for providing a free copy via Netgalley.This beautifully written book is thought provoking and very timely given the society we are living in today. I thought it gave a scary insight into what we could become if we leave the racism in today's society unchecked. I really enjoyed that the story was told from the father's perspective. I loved seeing how far he was willing to go to protect his son even when it was questionable. My favorite part was the reunion between Nigel and his father where Nigel was able to tell his dad exactly what he believed and how his father's actions had affected him. This will definitely be on my favorites list for this year and I highly recommend this to everyone!
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  • Mainlinebooker
    January 1, 1970
    Ruffin is a masterful writer, bold, satiric, and filled with dark humor. Many people will be drawn to his style as he powerfully elucidates the problem of racism in this novel. Nigel, a biracial child of a black father and white mother presents to the world a white complexion "tainted" by an ever-growing black birthmark . His father, a lawyer in a firm that has few blacks, is fervently trying to make partner so he can give his son a whitening treatment to help him achieve further success in a wo Ruffin is a masterful writer, bold, satiric, and filled with dark humor. Many people will be drawn to his style as he powerfully elucidates the problem of racism in this novel. Nigel, a biracial child of a black father and white mother presents to the world a white complexion "tainted" by an ever-growing black birthmark . His father, a lawyer in a firm that has few blacks, is fervently trying to make partner so he can give his son a whitening treatment to help him achieve further success in a world that devalues the black experience. To accomplish this, he engages in a series of outlandish activities, some surreal and others debasing. Haunting and pressing, this novel is an important piece of work. However, I found myself tiring of the constant loops of satire and looking for more literally based sequences. But for those who love caustic wit, this will sure to be a winner.
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  • Jaclyn Crupi
    January 1, 1970
    My literary happy place – brilliantly cutting satire. In the tradition of Delicious Foods, The Sellout, Welcome to Braggsville and Blackass, We Cast a Shadow uses razor sharp satire to dissect racism in America. It’s piercing, perceptive and provocative. It’s funny and weird and disorienting. It’s glorious and timely and just really damn good.
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  • Bandit
    January 1, 1970
    This book was touted as being in the same ballpark as Sellout and Get Out. It might have seemed like a good idea to throw this in with two such popular things, but for me it was a turn off. Though I’m glad not so much as to prevent from checking it out. Initial attraction was that gorgeous striking cover. Plus I was interested to see if it is indeed possible to write a good modern book about race. Sellout, despite all its acclaim and awards, for me didn’t do the trick. Get Out was a paranoid rac This book was touted as being in the same ballpark as Sellout and Get Out. It might have seemed like a good idea to throw this in with two such popular things, but for me it was a turn off. Though I’m glad not so much as to prevent from checking it out. Initial attraction was that gorgeous striking cover. Plus I was interested to see if it is indeed possible to write a good modern book about race. Sellout, despite all its acclaim and awards, for me didn’t do the trick. Get Out was a paranoid racist (yes, racism works in every direction) fantasy that jumped on the trend bandwagon at just the right time. This book, this absolutely terrific and most auspicious debut darling, actually works. The author anchors the race talks down to a very relatable and engaging father/son story and from there on its classic dynamics of familiar relations presented against the context of a racially divided (think exaggerated version of modern day US) social order somewhere in the South. The father, the well intentioned tragic narrator, is a black man who has done every possible thing to fit in and prosper in a society where black men seldom do, one so obsessed with white supremacy that many choose to alter their appearance to suit the social norm, including but not limited to going Michael Jackson white. The well intentioned tragedy comes when he tries to quite literally whitewash his young biracial son to as he sees it optimize his chances in the world. And so he sets off on this dangerous course while performing something of a balancing act between his career and his marriage, while dealing with his own difficult relationship with his father and all the while maintaining this delicate balance by chemical means and holding on too tightly to things he values the most only to watch it all slip away. It’s a mess, life’s messy. And sad. Positively devastating at times, especially towards the end. And mind you, this is a satire, so it’s also darkly humorous at times, particularly the first chapter. But what it is…is clever. It feeds the mind while it entertains and creates an emotional connection with characters, so that it elevates it above the usual casual glib aloofness of satires into something with power and meaning, something that genuinely commands attention and makes you think complex difficult thoughts. Turns out it is possible to talk about race, it just has to be done right. This book does it right. Forget gimmicky titles with Out in them and read this instead. Great book. Important, timely and just well done all around. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
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  • Jypsy
    January 1, 1970
    Well, I really disliked this book. The premise is so ridiculous that I couldn't even take it seriously. There is enough racial tension in the world. Why write a book that will make this situation worse? I don't respect the author in this context. It's an unnecessary plague of ideas.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    This outstanding debut novel is one of the best, most morally challenging books I've ever read. For the same reason I love Jodi Picoult's works (SMALL GREAT THINGS is a favorite), this book forced me to think beyond myself and put myself in other's shoes. Really, what higher compliment can I give a book?Extremely well-written, WE CAST A SHADOW by Maurice Carlos Ruffin is a fictional satire about future race relations in America. In this post-racial society taking place in an unnamed Southern cit This outstanding debut novel is one of the best, most morally challenging books I've ever read. For the same reason I love Jodi Picoult's works (SMALL GREAT THINGS is a favorite), this book forced me to think beyond myself and put myself in other's shoes. Really, what higher compliment can I give a book?Extremely well-written, WE CAST A SHADOW by Maurice Carlos Ruffin is a fictional satire about future race relations in America. In this post-racial society taking place in an unnamed Southern city, most black people are confined to fenced-in ghettos and treated like criminals. Essentially their job is to serve, entertain and make white people feel better about themselves.The author introduces us to a black man facing a crippling moral decision. This father is desperate for his son to thrive, despite this vile social climate, so he decides that his son's only hope is to undergo a procedure that will lighten his skin and ultimately make the boy passable as a white person.While reading the book, I kept thinking: would I do this? If this world became our reality, would I consider changing the essence of my child, an essential part of his identity, his heritage, to make his life better, safer, easier and more fruitful? It's a moral dilemma that really hits home given our current racial environment and I'll be honest, a question that kept me up long after I finished the book.Buy this book, read it, discuss it and then give it to a friend. It's the kind of book that shouldn't sit on a beautifully color coded bookshelf (though the stunning silver cover would be a rare find for cover collectors). It's uncomfortable, relevant and absolutely necessary. And after reading this, I have a feeling you will be just as fascinated with this author as I am.
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  • Lou
    January 1, 1970
    The tale starts at a work function with the main protagonist in costume, he decides to settle for Centurion instead of Nat Turner, all in the pursuit of happiness as a black man trying make a step up in a white law firm. The main characters pursuit of happiness is one where his son will eventually become white with no trace of black or that of his kids of the future, and getting ahead as white, he tells us of this with this tragic satire in a terrible world no one wants. Readjust your comfort zo The tale starts at a work function with the main protagonist in costume, he decides to settle for Centurion instead of Nat Turner, all in the pursuit of happiness as a black man trying make a step up in a white law firm. The main characters pursuit of happiness is one where his son will eventually become white with no trace of black or that of his kids of the future, and getting ahead as white, he tells us of this with this tragic satire in a terrible world no one wants. Readjust your comfort zones and have fiction make that brain working and cajole one to think on words, utterances of them, and the ramifications it may have had on our main protagonist, with the evil that men and women do along with the hate, on this journey of life.There is tragedy in the narrative, there is satire, and there is some extremes of one mans endeavour in a pursuit of happiness of an envisioned promised land of his, with the complexities and extremities at saving his son from as he says, “dedicated my life to protecting him from the myriad dangers of black boyhood,” but the world scheme of things does not seem to be conspiring to help him, in a tale that one would hope to be an American myth and not history.Review with excerpts @ https://more2read.com/review/we-cast-a-shadow-by-maurice-carlos-ruffin/
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  • Kaylie (shihtzus.and.book.reviews)
    January 1, 1970
    Honestly I should have 2 separate reviews for my feelings. Part of me can’t get over how timely this novel is. While it’s supposed to be satire, I could see it happening in real life. This is a warning shot, a sign of what could be if we don’t check our ways. The concept, the characters I adored.Unfortunately, I struggled to connect to the book. Perhaps it’s just me, maybe I’m just not connecting to books like I should. The current review trajectory is 4+, which is phenomenal for Goodreads. I wa Honestly I should have 2 separate reviews for my feelings. Part of me can’t get over how timely this novel is. While it’s supposed to be satire, I could see it happening in real life. This is a warning shot, a sign of what could be if we don’t check our ways. The concept, the characters I adored.Unfortunately, I struggled to connect to the book. Perhaps it’s just me, maybe I’m just not connecting to books like I should. The current review trajectory is 4+, which is phenomenal for Goodreads. I wanted to love it, I know I should’ve loved it. Unfortunately, I struggled with focusing.
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  • Casey
    January 1, 1970
    Probably the most literary work to date that without pretenses attacks racial issues of today, but puts it in a not to distant future. The narrator, who never states his name; tries to balance what he thinks is good for his son and what is right no matter the personal cost. (hint: it's a lot) The prose reminds me of a cross between Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go and 1984. Without a doubt this book flirts with a toleration state. With every turn it has its narrator see a world that he both kno Probably the most literary work to date that without pretenses attacks racial issues of today, but puts it in a not to distant future. The narrator, who never states his name; tries to balance what he thinks is good for his son and what is right no matter the personal cost. (hint: it's a lot) The prose reminds me of a cross between Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go and 1984. Without a doubt this book flirts with a toleration state. With every turn it has its narrator see a world that he both knows quite well is at odds with him, but at the same time uses those very ideals to try and rid his son of an "imperfection" that he believes will hurt him in the long run. Even when it's hurting them both in the present.I made so many notes as I was reading this. Though it seemed every time I thought "how could he do that" or "what is he thinking" the narrator would break the fourth wall and say "hey don't judge." (view spoiler)[Though he would change his mind later when Nigel finally tells him that he doesn't want the face whitening procedure. (hide spoiler)] His wit carries a lot through the story and makes some cringe worthy moments seem bearable. Especially for me in the first chapter when his boss Octavia not only lets loose some casual racism, but some clear sexual harassment. He (the narrator that is) isn't a perfect person, he is a hypocrite a lot. He judges other people who get the "demelanination" on their bodies yet is doing so with his son Nigel. He doesn't associate with his cousin "Supercargo" because he doesn't have as good an education and doesn't hold down any one job. He says his colleague Dinah should embrace her Vietnamese culture, but doesn't completely embrace his own (especially in regards to his father Sir.) This however culminates with his son Nigel towards the end where he shows tremendous growth of character, making himself the unintentional metaphor of the novel as a whole.
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  • Audrey
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 StarsThis comes off as a satire but I think it goes deeper then that. At times, the book goes into brilliance with its descriptions and depictions of what African Americans deal with in society. The casual mentions of subtle or not subtle racist observations or assumptions made as well as over arching government policies. Other times, the book tried too hard to be clever that I ended up confusing myself. Regardless, the book pulled off the ending, which is difficult in a social commentary. I 3.5 StarsThis comes off as a satire but I think it goes deeper then that. At times, the book goes into brilliance with its descriptions and depictions of what African Americans deal with in society. The casual mentions of subtle or not subtle racist observations or assumptions made as well as over arching government policies. Other times, the book tried too hard to be clever that I ended up confusing myself. Regardless, the book pulled off the ending, which is difficult in a social commentary. I received this arc from the publisher but all opinions are my own.
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  • Candice
    January 1, 1970
    I have pretty complicated feelings on this book that are difficult to state without major spoilers, so I will say as much as I can without giving too much away. The overall premise of the book is that a deliberately nameless black male main character living in a near-future version of the American South wants his bi-racial son to have a better, easier life. The book follows the main character and his family as he jumps through progressively more absurd hoops in a quest to do anything to protect I have pretty complicated feelings on this book that are difficult to state without major spoilers, so I will say as much as I can without giving too much away. The overall premise of the book is that a deliberately nameless black male main character living in a near-future version of the American South wants his bi-racial son to have a better, easier life. The book follows the main character and his family as he jumps through progressively more absurd hoops in a quest to do anything to protect his son from a cruel society. The book starts off very strong, with an absurd rich white party for the law firm where the main character works where the three black men in attendance are made to put on a show in competition for a promotion. The one who does the best will get promoted, and the other two will get fired. This party is very similar to the white parties seen in movies like Get Out and Sorry to Bother You, where the black men deliberately humiliate themselves to ingratiate to the white people. From there, the book continues to be weird and absurd and is a strong satire of race in America.My complicated feelings come in because you quickly realize as a reader that this main character is not just unreliable, but is a classic abuser. He gaslights and manipulates the people around him at every turn in the name of "love," just as all abusers do. He is not presented as sympathetic - in fact, he is deliberately presented as grossly flawed - but as someone who has been through domestic abuse, I found this point of view tired at points. The abuser's POV is one we all know already. I understand why this book had to be written from this POV in order for this particular story to be told, and I think it's done well and does not in any way endorse the abuse - it does the opposite - however, it just wasn't for me personally. I don't think we need more points of view from abusive men.All that being said, this book is very well written, and I do think it is a scathing satire of what it means to be Black in America today, and it presents an important message and character study. I'm glad this book exists, and I think we should have more books like it. I would love to see some more books from women of color's points of view, too. Just note that if you are a survivor of domestic abuse, this book could potentially be triggering.I have a lot more to say about this book, but it all involves major spoilers, so once you read it, please HMU!
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  • Donna Hines
    January 1, 1970
    Surviving racism in America has just taken on a whole new look with this wonderful new satire by Maurice Carlos Ruffin.Just how far would a parent be willing to go to protect their own?Nigel's birthmark is expanding and his father decides to prevent the hatred and seek a new medical treatment in hopes for a better life for his beloved son. The procedure is controversial in changing the color of his skin in becoming more white.The violence we inherited is at the front of this amazing new read.As Surviving racism in America has just taken on a whole new look with this wonderful new satire by Maurice Carlos Ruffin.Just how far would a parent be willing to go to protect their own?Nigel's birthmark is expanding and his father decides to prevent the hatred and seek a new medical treatment in hopes for a better life for his beloved son. The procedure is controversial in changing the color of his skin in becoming more white.The violence we inherited is at the front of this amazing new read.As an aunt of nieces and nephews who are biracial I can tell you that love is blind. In my case it doesn't matter as long as you love one another. However, the world is a different place and we need to find a way to accept one another and stop this racial hatred because that's what it is and we need to stop with the nonsense and learn we belong to one race the human race.In fact my niece Cassie Ann Gatcha was tragically killed in a car accident at just 12yo from a young male who was allegedly drag racing one beautiful Tuesday morning two years ago. Hug your loved ones and let them know you will always be there for them. God has other plans and we aren't always in the drivers seat. The pain a parent has in losing a child is unbearable. My brother is still unable to cope with such tremendous loss. I would give my own life up if he could have just one more day with his precious only daughter up in heaven. Remember to slow down!God bless xoxo.Thank you to Maurice , the publisher, NetGalley, and Aldiko for this ARC in exchange for this honest review.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    Nigel is a bi-racial son in a possible near future. Racism is on the rise, even worse and more blatant than in today's reality. Society, and Nigel's father, have determined that the only real way to succeed are to become white, ala Michael Jackson though he is not mentioned. Demelanization and plastic surgery to change facial features to appear more white are big commodities. Nigel's dad can't afford them despite his position at a well-established law firm. Through the course of the story, he ju Nigel is a bi-racial son in a possible near future. Racism is on the rise, even worse and more blatant than in today's reality. Society, and Nigel's father, have determined that the only real way to succeed are to become white, ala Michael Jackson though he is not mentioned. Demelanization and plastic surgery to change facial features to appear more white are big commodities. Nigel's dad can't afford them despite his position at a well-established law firm. Through the course of the story, he jumps through more and more ridiculous hoops to please his white coworkers who have the power to give him bonuses to pay for the surgeries. Rarely does he acknowledge how demeaning this all is. Instead he swallows it down and continues on his path. Two things for me: at no point does Nigel get a say in what is being proposed for him and at some point in time his dad loses sight of the reason he is doing all this. Instead he becomes solely focused on the actual quest itself. The story is heartbreaking for so many reasons, but all this makes it an even more compelling read. A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley and Random House in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Stella
    January 1, 1970
    Every review of this book will talk about the brilliance of satire. And, yes, it's is utterly outstanding. I, however, read this book and could easily picture Jordan Peele making this into a movie that wins Oscars and every possible award known to man. In post-post racial South, we meet a man working his way to the top of a law firm, with one major goal - to earn enough money to pay for this son's demelanization. This dystopian future is so familiar - and not too far off from our current politic Every review of this book will talk about the brilliance of satire. And, yes, it's is utterly outstanding. I, however, read this book and could easily picture Jordan Peele making this into a movie that wins Oscars and every possible award known to man. In post-post racial South, we meet a man working his way to the top of a law firm, with one major goal - to earn enough money to pay for this son's demelanization. This dystopian future is so familiar - and not too far off from our current political situation. In this timeline - black Americans often change themselves on a cellular level in order to get ahead. Our unnamed narrator struggles with his own identity issues, constantly feeling like he doesn't measure up and his drive for Nigel to be better.There are VERY uncomfortable scenes - that made me squirm just to read - but it's nothing that isn't shown on television or newspapers of today. This book goes beyond satire - because all good satire has the element of truth and honest opinions. Maurice Carlos Ruffin is making a statement with this book, one that is much needed now more than ever.Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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  • Katy
    January 1, 1970
    4.5* - This incisive, semi-satirical novel is every bit as dark and compelling as any form of literary realism. Ruffin may have written a cutting satire, but his poignant story of a black father who will stop at absolutely nothing to do what he thinks will give his son a better life doesn’t seem at all far-fetched. Set in an America even more racist than the America of today, We Cast a Shadow confronts the horrors of institutional racism. Ruffin’s unnamed black narrator endures constant humiliat 4.5* - This incisive, semi-satirical novel is every bit as dark and compelling as any form of literary realism. Ruffin may have written a cutting satire, but his poignant story of a black father who will stop at absolutely nothing to do what he thinks will give his son a better life doesn’t seem at all far-fetched. Set in an America even more racist than the America of today, We Cast a Shadow confronts the horrors of institutional racism. Ruffin’s unnamed black narrator endures constant humiliation at the hands of his white colleagues and internalizes this racism by forcing his young biracial son to regularly apply skin-lightening cream. This is a bold, painful debut that I would consider a must-read.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    There could not be more of a must read book than this.While the concept seems to be that this is a satirical look in the near future, incidents in the book [no spoilers] but looks and actions of those around the main character could be happening today, here and now. The writing is superb and just wraps you into the story from the first page, while also making you think. I really need to say it again, this is a must read book. Excellent. Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
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  • Ben
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review.Given all the hype for this one (and the way promo text namedropped _Get Out_ and The Sellout, I was hoping for something that was a little sharper, satirically. This got a little flabby in the middle, but started and ended strong. Great commentary on race in America.
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  • Edwin Howard
    January 1, 1970
    Maurice Carol Ruffin's book, WE CAST A SHADOW, is voiced by a father whose lack of self-confidence and yearning for his son's acceptance in the world is using every medical treatment possible in this near future world to make his son as white as possible. This misguided attempt to whiten his son is at odds with his wife and is so expensive that the narrator is doing whatever he can at work to move up, despite his extreme apathy for the job and the people who work there. His past begins to catch Maurice Carol Ruffin's book, WE CAST A SHADOW, is voiced by a father whose lack of self-confidence and yearning for his son's acceptance in the world is using every medical treatment possible in this near future world to make his son as white as possible. This misguided attempt to whiten his son is at odds with his wife and is so expensive that the narrator is doing whatever he can at work to move up, despite his extreme apathy for the job and the people who work there. His past begins to catch up with him and with his addiction to hallucinogens, the narrator views of right and wrong becomes more and more askew. Ruffin's portrayal of a man (the narrator) constantly teetering on the edge of not only a breakdown, but teetering on the edge or right and wrong is compelling. The man carries a core belief system that being black is bad and now matter what obstacles are put in his way and what rational thought is presented to him, he believes the only way his son, who has a noticeable black birthmark on his white skin, will find happiness in the world is if his son's skin is as white as possible. While his views are to the extreme and therefore flawed, the reader can't help but feel sorry for the man. The writing style Ruffin employs in the book is masterful. In order to help the reader embody living like the narrator, in a drug induced haze of agitation and confusion, Ruffin composes the book with that in mind. At times he is very descript, down to very particular details, other moments his skips part of the action and glosses over things character say. All of this is done with careful thought, so that the reader is guided through the story like the narrator lives his life. At no time, though, does the reader feel lost, just sufficiently jostled around. Challenging racial stereotypes and prejudices that people have a hard time shaking, WE CAST A SHADOW does what a good book should, entertains and charges the reader to reconsider their view on life. I highly recommend and look forward to reading more by Ruffin in the future. Thank you to Random House, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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  • Jess
    January 1, 1970
    I had mixed feelings about this book, but came away liking it. The premise was strong, and the author makes his point sharply. It was so thought-provoking, and the scary part was that I could totally see how we could get from our current political and racial issues to this near-future world he describes. I also really enjoyed the way he wove together issues of race at both the broad and personal levels - meaning, how do we fight for equality on a broad scale while also protecting our children pe I had mixed feelings about this book, but came away liking it. The premise was strong, and the author makes his point sharply. It was so thought-provoking, and the scary part was that I could totally see how we could get from our current political and racial issues to this near-future world he describes. I also really enjoyed the way he wove together issues of race at both the broad and personal levels - meaning, how do we fight for equality on a broad scale while also protecting our children personally? Is it fair to give our personal child an extra advantage or to compromise our broader principles to make his life easiest? It was like a racial and parenting commentary mixed together, which makes sense, because truly the two can’t be separated - especially for parents of color, as the book deftly points out. I did have some trouble following what was happening, and found it confusing and frustrating at times. But overall, as an allegory, it wasn’t there for my enjoyment so much as to challenge all of its readers - and it succeeds in that, easily. Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for the ARC.
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  • Andrew Moore
    January 1, 1970
    Netgalley ARCI tend to have a great amount of forgiveness for a film or book that comes through with an excellent ending. The first half of this book contains some necessary happenings to give its back half its heft, but it also fills a great deal of pages with an uneven world that seems to contradict itself in the way it wants to reflect the current racial climate as well as paint a more sinister future. Through a great deal of those first nearly 200 pages I felt these two sides clash, revealin Netgalley ARCI tend to have a great amount of forgiveness for a film or book that comes through with an excellent ending. The first half of this book contains some necessary happenings to give its back half its heft, but it also fills a great deal of pages with an uneven world that seems to contradict itself in the way it wants to reflect the current racial climate as well as paint a more sinister future. Through a great deal of those first nearly 200 pages I felt these two sides clash, revealing a portrait that lost its power by trying too hard to be timely and satirical, losing sight of the story it wanted to tell. That being said, I found the back end to be pretty excellent. Unlike it's earlier pages that seemed to recycle the likes of Sorry to Bother You, Get Out, etc., these segments were wholly original and emotional. This is a strange one because had the first half been more in line with its wonderful second half, I could see this being an early favorite of mine for 2019. As is, I still recommend it. Also, great cover.
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    2.5/5 Stars I had such high hopes for We Cast A Shadow and ultimately it didn't meet the hype I felt for it.The pros:- strong and intriguing concept - well crafted figurative language that enhances thematic points- immensely timely and relevant narrative The cons:- the pacing is really all over the place with unexpected time jumps nestled within paragraphs - the setting...this is obviously in the Southern United States but where exactly is ambiguous. I'm not a big fan of vague settings. It dista 2.5/5 Stars I had such high hopes for We Cast A Shadow and ultimately it didn't meet the hype I felt for it.The pros:- strong and intriguing concept - well crafted figurative language that enhances thematic points- immensely timely and relevant narrative The cons:- the pacing is really all over the place with unexpected time jumps nestled within paragraphs - the setting...this is obviously in the Southern United States but where exactly is ambiguous. I'm not a big fan of vague settings. It distances the story from it's (the story's) reality. Characterization was a mixed bag and I can't say that I really liked many of the characters in the book. Many of the characters also read as pretty one-dimensional. So overall, this was a miss for me but I wanted so badly to love it, especially since it was receiving such high praise early on. Perhaps one day I'll reread We Cast A Shadow and rate it higher. At least, I really hope so.
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