No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert – book review

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Disclosure:  I received a free copy of the book; opinions shared are mine.

Perspective is a powerful yet vicious thing.  Sometimes perspective can provide insight; other times, it can be blinding.  When I read No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert, I felt like perspective was slamming against my brain and heart from all sides.

You might remember how much I loved one of Ganshert’s other novels in 2017. Life After shocked me in its vulnerability and utterly tangible characters.  In her newest book, Ganshert went beyond my expectations in a similar regard.  She developed fully real characters, but this time it was hard to side with any of them.  As the story progressed, told through third person narrating three women’s lives, a painful picture unfolded.  I related to all of the women and none of the women.  It makes no sense, but that’s how it was!

Normally, I’m not a notetaker when reviewing books.  Instead, my reviews tend to be solely based on my emotions after closing the last page.  This time, though, I actually kept three pages of thoughts as I read.  My notes reflect mostly frustration at the mentality behind various characters’ comments and actions.  Since Ganshert told the story from a different woman’s experience each time, she turned the tables on my reaction to every situation.  While I was frustrated that Camille allowed her daughter to open gifts at the birthday party, I was angry that Jen expected the world to revolve around her daughter Jubilee.  When Anaya thought, “My goodness, white people and their easily ruffled feathers,”  it left me feeling very unfriendly toward her, when just before I’d been holding love in my heart at her beautiful way with children.

Finally, the book made me face differences in my personal life compared to my professional career.  My students are often surprised to hear that I came from a poor, single parent home where my mom spoke broken English and we shared clothes.  Their surprise might be because I’m a teacher in a well-funded school district. My school serves children from all different socio-economic backgrounds, but the kids seem to assume that I came from a wealthy home since I attended college.  School system politics are a real entity, as well as the dynamics between parents and the community.  There are strong cliques, as real as the ones you remember from high school.

This book carries a message that needs to be heard from both sides of the race card.  It also needs to demand more from those from the failing-school side of the fence, in my opinion.  What are the parents and educators doing on their end to make sure their children are getting the best education — beyond the expectation that it will be provided by someone else?  Also, I felt like the author let Anaya off the hook for her shortcomings.  Her idea to introduce her students to African-American figures in history was noteworthy; however, did she consider other cultural backgrounds?   She had students from Indian and Asian heritage, yet nothing was said of those marks on history.   Additionally, Anaya never really came to face her own racial remarks and stereotype-driven  actions.  In a way, No One Ever Asked reflects society’s way of justifying minority mindset and allowing the squeaky wheel to take over.

If you’re not afraid to face the very real drama behind No One Ever Asked, complete with its story that could be on your local news, you won’t regret it.  This book will make you think, feel, and consider real change.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for sending me a copy!

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