When I first got the book,Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling I wasn’t expecting it to be a graphic novel. After all, it was for a Young Adult Literature class and who considers graphic novels literature anyways? Apparently my professor did. So when I flipped through the pages (still not reading what the book was about yet), the first image to pop out was of President Nixon. I laughed and told my friends I was apparently going to read about Nixon in a comic. Of course, I was wrong on my assumption but don’t regret picturing myself reading about Watergate in a comic.
The book starts out slow and picks up when the novel brings anecdotes of other characters that experience incarceration on a high level. I have to say, this was probably the only good part about the book. It was meant originally as a regular book and just with pictures added, but it read too much like I was reading an academic article with “pretty” pictures scattered around. The images held no depth to them and many were just adding to the confusion of what the text said.
However, this book didn’t hold any secret agenda. It didn’t tell us how we should feel. It didn’t even side with any political party as neither side was getting any held back punches. Instead it just provided the facts as they were, added some true stories that related to the facts, then gave the reader the option to think for themselves.
As a fan of looking at the world as grey rather than black and white, I enjoyed the idea of how grey they explained the entire scenario. It may not be a book I would teach in my class, however, it is a great book to offer students to read if they wanted to. It provides the student a moment to create new thought processes and perhaps change how they looked at the legal system. I would also offer this book to anyone in the Black Lives Matter movement to help their arguments on the legal system against people of color.
Overall, I would give this book a 2/5 stars because of how dry it was and the confusion of photos to text variety. If perhaps they had used the stories as the main focus instead and added the facts within, I would have given the book a 4/5 instead, and if they fixed the artwork probably a higher score than that.