What first struck me about His Work of Art is that the main characters are not your standard romance archetypes. They’re young (probably about 21 or 22), definitely not rich, and at least where he’s concerned–not white. Even better, they’re self-proclaimed nerds. There are not enough nerds in literature. For the number of us there are in the real world, there should be a higher representation in what we read. Of course that is true of anyone who isn’t a Greek Billionaire Tycoon. But it is definitely true for people of color. I don’t think I’ve ever read an interracial romance before and that’s a shame. If our books were at all similar to our reality, there would be a lot of interracial couples between the pages. There’s even a study that says by 2050 most children will be interracial. That’s definitely a step in the right direction, if you ask me.
Reese Carter is working on her senior project–a crowdfunded comic book. She’s got the writing part figured out, but she needs an artist. Enter Adam Hayes. He’s everything she wants in an artist–he’s smart, sexy, and he challenges her to think outside of the box. She’s convinced he’s not into her, but he’s just trying to keep things uncomplicated. Obviously, that’s not going to work.
I’ve seriously been gushing about this book all day. It is everything that I needed to read and then some. It was fun, but also had some serious issues it was dealing with–especially when it came to Adam’s feelings for Reese and what they would go through because of the color of his skin. He, himself, is biracial (his father was black, his mother white) and was exposed to the world of stupid that infected his parents’ relationship, so he is fully aware of just what it would be like if he were to get involved with a white girl and he’s not sure if he’s strong enough not to walk away from her in the end. Those are real and understandable fears. It is a shame that in 2015 that this is still an issue. Anti-miscegenation was declared unconstitutional in 1967, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t bigots still left in the world, clinging to the old ideals that they were raised with–I was talking to my cousin earlier in the week and something ridiculous happened back home last weekend. Instead of focusing on the truly disturbing part of the evening, my grandmother took umbrage over the fact that someone she knows is dating a non-white man. There were other things to worry over with that particular relationship, but the guy’s skin color shouldn’t have anything to do with this. But, then this is coming from the woman who ranted over different cultures mixing, despite the fact that she’s 100% Polish and my grandfather was 100% Italian. Last time I checked, Poland and Italy were two very different countries.
I’m glad that this was something that Adam had to figure out before deciding to pursue a relationship with Reese even though he was half-way in love with her before even spending much time with her because I do not doubt that real interracial couples have to deal with very similar issues. The truth is that no matter how much we claim not to see color, it colors so much of our reality. Most of the white people I know don’t get this and they think that black people need to “get over” centuries of being told that they’re not worthy and being treated like they are less than because their skin is more highly pigmented than those of us who happened to come from Europe at some point in our history. They look at black people at the grocery store and immediately assume that they’re on welfare and are simply buying lobsters and steaks to go and sell them on the black market (is there a black market for sea food?) for profit, so they can go buy the latest iPhone without lifting a finger to find a job. (Sadly, I’ve actually had conversations with people who irately claimed this to be true.) It doesn’t matter that I’ve been on Medicaid or that I’m currently on Unemployment because I’m white. If I was black, I’d have scores of people telling me I’m lazy and don’t deserve the little money I get from the government. It is just sickening.
As I said, His Work of Art is a fun book. I loved the conversations between Adam and Reese. They debated everything–she liked DC and he’s a Marvel guy and they argued over which characters were better. He got her to watch Thor and even write a paper on it for one of her classes (because if she wrote about Batman, she wouldn’t be challenged, since she already knows all about Batman). There’s also a great conversation concerning women in comics and why they all have to look like some guy’s sex kitten fantasies when their male counterparts aren’t depicted similarly. I’m not a comics person–I’ve only ever seen the Spiderman movies and watched Lois and Clark as a kid–but I loved this. This is the type of thing that I want to see more of in books. Not specifically comic books. But characters being passionate about things that most other people would find strange. I love books, obviously, and I could talk about them forever. It seems that the only thing that people are encouraged to be passionate about is sports. Men paint their bodies and sit in the freezing cold to watch a bunch of other men fight each other over an oddly shaped ball. Want to talk about comics or your current fandom and be prepared for side eye. It just isn’t acceptable to be into anything that doesn’t involve a referee. Sorry, but that just doesn’t do it for me. Give me a good book any day. Talk to me about serial killers. I love them. Or Early Modern European history. I’m so there. People find me weird. And I’m okay with that.
His Work of Art is currently available for Pre-Order and will be available on October 27th.