McMullan, Margaret. 2009. Cashay. Houghton Mifflin. 208 pages.
We walk the same speed. Everything's in time.
I'll be completely honest with you. Cashay was a tough read for me, a painful read for me. Almost like it was too close, too raw. You know how it is when you see news crews interviewing people after traumatic things--crashes, fires, hurricanes, the like. I don't know about you, but I always feel that they should back off, that they should give people privacy. Don't go asking how it feels to lose everything they own five minutes after their home has burned down. Or asking how they feel after their loved one has been murdered. In Cashay we get an insider look. Cashay and Sashay are inseparable. Until the shooting. Until one of them dies.
We are not OK.
Nothing is right at all anymore.
There is no more Sashay. It's like nothing.
And then, then I hear the sirens.
The book is an up, close, and personal look at grief. Cashay's life was never easy (no father, lazy and drug-addicted mother), but with Sashay, her sister and best friend, things were working. Now Cashay is lost and confused and angry. It doesn't help that she knows who shot her sister. That she was there, witness to it all. True, the bullet wasn't meant for Sashay. But she's the one whose life was stolen that day. And it's Cashay who has to live with it. So many angsty things--and rightly angsty in some ways--going on in this one. Like I said, it was a painful read. I didn't want to be a witness to these scenes. I didn't want to put myself in Cashay's shoes. I didn't want to feel her pain and grief. It was a very ugly novel. The way I feel about this one is the same way I feel about the Elvis song "In the Ghetto."
One thing did bother me a tiny bit about the novel. The way the white characters played heroes and all the African-American characters were either victims or criminals. Of course, not every character can fall so clearly into one category or the other. But the African-American characters seemed to be stuck in one place and unable to help themselves out of bad situations.
There was an interesting review of this one at Barnes & Noble. A one star review that raises some interesting (and valid) questions. Cashay is a "problem" novel in a way. An issue-driven book. Anyway, the reviewer suggests that the novel relies on too many stereotypes. (African American family living in the projects in Chicago; sisters with different fathers--neither one of which stuck around; a drug-addicted mother who isn't responsible enough to support her family; a poverty-stricken family relying on food stamps; drive-by shootings, etc.)
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews