cover image I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to My Daughter

I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to My Daughter

David Chariandy. Bloomsbury, $17 (112p) ISBN 978-1-63557-287-2

Novelist Chariandy (Brother) addresses this slim volume to his daughter on the occasion of her 13th birthday, exploring their family’s racial and ethnic makeup and the challenges inherent in growing up as a person of color in a white-dominated culture. He weaves together their often similar experiences growing up, recalling his daughter standing up for her brother after he was called the N word at school, alongside his own memories of being underestimated by teachers and taunted by classmates (with whom he empathizes rather than maligning). Alongside this thread is one of resilience and joy. Chariandy recalls the incredible perseverance of his Trinidadian parents, a black woman and an Indian man, who immigrated to Canada in the 1960s and built a beautiful life. He also traces the history of colonialism and forced labor in Trinidad to explore the plight of his ancestors on his father’s side and considers the strange dissonance of visiting one’s familial country of origin as a tourist. Chariandy hopes for his daughter that she will “demand not only justice, but joy; that you should see... the vulnerability and the creativity and the enduring beauty of others.” This is a beautiful meditation on what it means to be among a racial minority, and a blueprint honoring one’s heritage. (Apr.)