The Big One Oh Book Report

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Her Dad, sister and the rest of her immortal half-siblings all have the ability to change their appearance at will, including their race. Helen is very conscious of the racial and cultural differences between her and her family.

In one chapter, she remembers when she tried to hug her half-brother Apollo who fist-bumped her instead.

The 1989 earthquake in Loma Prieta, California, which killed sixty-three people and caused six billion dollars’ worth of damage, lasted about fifteen seconds and had a magnitude of 6.9.

A thirty-second earthquake generally has a magnitude in the mid-sevens.

Although the novel is light in subject matter, Sheppard does not shy away from highlighting Helen’s blackness and addressing important issues about identity and belonging.

One of the main challenges that Helen faces, is her feelings of loneliness and not belonging within her new family dynamic.

When Helen visits Grandma Thomas in Derby for Christmas, it is clear that she misses Jamaican food.

I could not help but smile when Helen became really excited about being able to eat hard dough bread and cornmeal porridge again.

This is something that might not hold meaning to the average (white) reader but to black readers, the scenario is all too familiar.

A similar scenario occurs when Apollo visits the family home after his holiday, and Helen hopes that he does not compare his new tan with her natural skin tone.


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