cover image Don’t Let It Get You Down: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Body

Don’t Let It Get You Down: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Body

Savala Nolan. Simon & Schuster, $26 (208p) ISBN 978-1-982137-26-7

Lawyer Nolan ponders her “perpetual, prismatic, in-betweenness around race and class” in her deeply personal debut collection. The child of a Black and Mexican father and a white mother, Nolan recounts her parents’ separation when she was two and her mother’s “own internalized racism that she never totally cleaned up.” “The Body Endures” sees Nolan examining her own privileges compared with those granted to her white husband (“Even with my money and education and light skin, I am still three times more likely to die in childbirth than a white woman”), and “Fat in Ways White Girls Don’t Understand” tackles the “Mammy” stereotype. Particularly insightful are Nolan’s “lonely” experiences nannying for the über-rich, captured in “Nearly, Not Quite,” and her pressing need to learn about her family’s past in “To Wit, and Also.” At times, the episodic nature can lack immediacy: “On Dating White Guys While Me” boils down to a sort of list of men. Still, the mix of cultural criticism and thoughtful personal writing will be just right for fans of Roxane Gay. Agent: Farley Chase, Chase Literary Agency. (July)