Bibliophile Babes Book Club discussion

The Hate Race
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September Book Club Discussion

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Kate (Lillytales) (lillytales) | 122 comments Mod
Pals! How did you find The Hate Race? I'm right at the end and look forward to chatting with you all about it tonight!

Claire (cmoo053) Loved it! Really looking forward to our discussion.

Sarah I loved it too!!

Kate (Lillytales) (lillytales) | 122 comments Mod
Hey girls! I also loved it so much. What a gorgeous book, I'm not even sure where to start... First up, had either of you read other work by Maxine before? I read Foreign Soil last year (a collection of fictional stories) and really liked that but I think I enjoyed The Hate Race more. It gripped me and held my attention but without being overly dramatic for the sake of it.

Sarah I hadn't read anything by Maxine before, but I just found it so engaging right from the start. There were so many eighties and nineties throwbacks that were super nostalgic, and because I grew up in the same time period it was really quite shocking to hear of her experience. Growing up in such a white Anglo-Saxon community and being white myself the idea of children like myself and my friends being so horrible and racist is really unfathomable and Maxine's stories were sickening. However, high school was a different story, Maxine described so well the nasty people that I could remember clearly from my high school experience. But it got me thinking, was I one of the people that observed such bullying and did nothing? It just wasn't on my radar at the time like it is now, and I think that says a lot about teenage hood and maybe the time as well, although I think the attitude still exists. It was very thought provoking.

I also found it interesting that she ended on the note with her father. I wasn't really focused on what he was up to and his affair came as a surprise as a couple her parents seemed close considering all they went through. It was almost like he was a traitor to everything their family had experienced by having an affair with a white woman. I wonder if this caused Maxine more pain than any of the bullying she experienced as a child?

The one small thing that annoyed me at times was the breaks in the story where she would refer back to the West Indian way of telling a story with, 'what else is a story for?' Etc. I appreciated the significance of it and it worked well in some spots to give opportunity to pause and reflect on her pain, but at times it interrupted the pace of the book, I think less could have been more.

Regardless, I think this is necessary reading for all Australians, I've already passed my copy on for friends to read!

Kate (Lillytales) (lillytales) | 122 comments Mod
I wholeheartedly agree with you Sarah!

I was born in the 90s so I didn't get all of the references but I did think Maxine painted a very accurate picture of Australian childhood. It definitely made me self-reflect as well, and really check my privilege for being a Caucasian person who seldomnly has to think about her race. I really felt for Maxine throughout her school years, I wonder if she will write a memoir post-school?

I couldn't believe how outwardly racist so many people are to people of colour in Australia (again, I have privilege guilt about being shocked at this), but it is a really important book to read because it really does challenge your perceptions and assumptions about tolerance and unity in our culture.

I also agree with you about the frequency of 'this is how the story goes' lines... I really liked the idea and I'm sure it has poetic significance, but I also thought they were too frequent and every time I read a similar line, I thought more about how often it was happening than the actual meaning around its placement!

Kate (Lillytales) (lillytales) | 122 comments Mod
The final section about her father really did come out of the blue! I would love to read a version of this book about her adulthood in the years to come. I absolutely adore Maxine's writing style and attitude... although there was a lot of hate and sadness contained within this story, it wasn't a bitter, angry or aggressive telling of her story - which is surprising and would be totally forgivable considering some of her experiences!

Claire (cmoo053) I totally agree with you both. The style was really engaging. I found the writing quite conversational. I could tell it was carefully crafted, but I also felt like I was sitting, listening to someone tell me a story. Clark used language really effectively in that way.

I also found the eighties and nineties references really captured me. Like I said in my review, although I didn't grow up in Australia, there was still so many things I could remember and relate to.

I think in part, that was why I felt so shocked by so many of the instances of casual racism that were described in the book. Granted, I grew up in NZ not Australia, so perhaps our experiences of racism were somewhat diluted. But I was really compelled to check my white, middle class privilege throughout. I grew up in what WAS a fairly multicultural area, and went to school with kids from a bunch of different cultures and I don't remember that mattering to me, or to anyone else at the time. But in reading this novel, I really thought about how much of that memory was my privileged construction, and how much I might have missed.

As a teacher, it's also reminded me to be a bit more aware of the subtle underhand stuff that goes on at school, especially high schools. While we might have come a way from Clark's childhood, she makes a clear point that we have much further to come, and I think that applies to NZ as well.

I was also pretty taken about by the final section about her dad. I thought it's suddenness was effective, in that I felt the suddenness and the shock that Clark seemed to. I got the sense that perhaps she had (rightly so) been so captured by her own struggles, that she hadn't been aware of her parents'. I too would be really interested to read further memoirs, about the next stage of her life. I hope she writes about it.

I haven't read any of her other work but I will definitely be getting my hands on some asap. Such a great writer.

I think this was our best pick so far!

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