‘The Atlas of Reds and Blues’ by Devi S. Laskar – A Mixed Family in the Well-To-Do Atlanta Suburbs

 

‘The Atlas of Reds and Blues’ by Devi S. Laskar (2019) – 258 pages

‘The Atlas of Reds and Blues’ opens with a woman lying bleeding on her concrete driveway, shot by a policeman who is a member of a tactical police force unit raiding her family’s suburban house. The woman’s entire life flashes before her eyes as she searches desperately for that one inciting incident that led to this brutality.

The unnamed narrator (called only Mother) lives with her family in a rich suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. She and her blonde-haired blue-eyed globe-trotting husband have three young daughters of school age. Mother’s parents came to the United States from India before she was born. Neither Mother nor any of the daughters is considered white by their suburban neighbors.

Today, the Middle Daughter gets in Mother’s car after school – in tears, sobbing that her new classmate won’t invite her home. “Annette said her mother won’t let her play with black people outside of school.“ Middle Daughter’s shoulders slump forward in her seat. Everyone in the first grade is invited to the special premiere of The Bee Movie at the Buckhead Mansion of Annette’s famous athlete uncle – everyone but her.”

I could have told Mother that some of the cruelest and most racist white people in the United States live in the rich suburbs. This is Atlanta and thus “Southern white-sheeted suburbia”.

It is not an economic thing as Mother and her family are very well off financially. Her blonde-haired husband has a professional job where he travels around the world on business nearly all the time. The prejudice against Mother and her three daughters is strictly a race thing.

The family would have been much better off in a university community where these types of mixed marriages are quite common and there is a much higher degree of tolerance and acceptance of diversity. I at least hope that these type of humane communities still exist within the United States.

The story of ‘The Atlas of Reds and Blues’ is told in many short chapters as Mother’s entire life flashes through her mind. Her happy time at the University, her years working as a reporter, her marriage and then her family.

The novel is a quick read as most of the chapters are very short. ‘The Atlas of Reds and Blues’ gets high points for originality as I have not encountered this unusual situation in a novel before.

I brought a lot of resistance to appreciating this novel at first because of certain cutenesses in the narration, but by now all resistance has dissipated.

 

Grade : A-

 

3 responses to this post.

  1. Your intro to this book makes me wonder… has anyone ever done research into what kind of triggers there are for gun deaths?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Hi Lisa,
      The kind of triggers for gun deaths? I would say gun triggers. But all kidding aside, race is probably the biggest trigger in the US. It still seemed strange to me that a suburban mom with little kids would be shot by police even if she was brown. However according to reviews the author Devi Laskar had a close call of this sort herself before she wrote this novel, so I believe her.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      • Well, commenting from afar of course, that’s what the #B;ackLivesMatter movement was about: that police tend to shoot first and ask questions afterwards if it’s a black person. Though obviously they are trigger-happy anyway: there’s that famous (to us) case of an Australian woman who was shot dead after she rang police because there was an intruder at her home.

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