In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson | @RandomTTours

About the Book

Alexandra Wilson was a teenager when her dear family friend Ayo was stabbed on his way home from football. Ayo’s death changed Alexandra. She felt compelled to enter the legal profession in search of answers. 

As a junior criminal and family law barrister, Alexandra finds herself navigating a world and a set of rules designed by a privileged few. A world in which fellow barristers sigh with relief when a racist judge retires: ‘I’ve got a black kid today and he would have had no hope’. 

In her debut book, In Black and White, Alexandra re-creates the tense courtroom scenes, the heart-breaking meetings with teenage clients, and the moments of frustration and triumph that make up a young barrister’s life. 

Alexandra shows us how it feels to defend someone who hates the colour of your skin, or someone you suspect is guilty. We see what it is like for children coerced into county line drug deals and the damage that can be caused when we criminalise teenagers. 

Alexandra’s account of what she has witnessed as a young mixed-race barrister is in equal parts shocking, compelling, confounding and powerful. 

My Thoughts

In Black and White is such a brilliant and eye-opening read. Alexandra Wilson is a young mixed race woman from Essex who trained as a barrister. She worked very hard and is incredibly motivated and this book is her story as she navigated the system facing racism and misogyny all along the way.

When Alexandra Wilson was a teenager her cousin Ayo was murdered in an unprovoked attack when he was not far from his home. This had a profound effect on her and it compelled her to get her law degree to try and seek out answers and to make a difference.

This book is part memoir and part an introduction to the law and how it works. We learn about how you train to become a barrister, and how hard it is to not only get on the course but to find a job too. There are examples of the people Alexandra has defended, which give such an eye-opening look at how people end up in court and the wide-ranging cases that barristers work on.

It was sad to read how often people, particularly young people, end up in court and criminalised when perhaps they could have been dealt with before it got to this stage. It’s hard to read of people who have made a relatively minor mistake, or have genuine extenuating circumstances, are then hampered by a conviction from that point on.

Along the way we see the awful ways that Alexandra was judged for being black, at times being assumed to be the defendant rather than the barrister. She’s also in the minority being a woman in the profession so has that battle too. I really appreciated the way that some defendants felt more able to be open with Alexandra as they felt she was more like them. It really highlights Alexandra’s point that the Bar needs to be much more diverse than it is now.

I found In Black and White to be such an engaging, powerful and fascinating read and I’m so glad I picked it up. This is a very timely and must-read book – one I would recommend to everyone. It’s one of my favourite non-fiction books that I’ve read this year and it’s one that will stay with me.

Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours and Octopus Books for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

In Black and White is out now and available here.

WWW Wednesdays (23 Sep 20)! What are you reading this week?

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading!

Current Reads

I’m still struggling to pick up books so I’m sticking to one Kindle book and one audio book and this seems to be working for me at the moment. The Stolen Sisters is really good and I’m intrigued to see where this book is going. I’ve only just started listening to Summer but am enjoying it so far and am looking forward to listening to more.

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

Summer by Ali Smith

Recent Reads

Four of the books I finished this week were audiobooks and this is definitely the way for me to read just now. I enjoyed all five of these books and would recommend them. My review of In Black and White will be posted on my blog on Friday so please look out for it then.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

I Thought I Knew You by Penny Hancock

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

What I Might Read Next

I’m still reading by whim just now but would like to read through some of my NetGalley books this week so these are the three that are jumping out to me the most at the moment. I’ve also Tales from the Cafe on audio so will be able to listen to that one as I read.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

The Split by Sharon Bolton

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

What are you reading at the moment? I’d love to chat about your current read in the comments. If you’ve posted a WWW Wednesdays post please feel free to share your link before and I’ll read your post. 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (16 Sep 20)! What are you reading this week?

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading!

Current Reads

I’m still struggling with my reading so am sticking to one ebook and one audiobook at a time. I’m really enjoying both of these books and am hoping they might break me out of this slump I’m in.

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

Recent Reads

I found Liar to be such an intriguing book and really enjoyed it. It was a book that made me think, I recommend it. Fallen Angel wasn’t a great read, it was predictable and full of stereotypical characters so didn’t really help with my reading slump. Dead to Her was an okay read – I’ve already reviewed it so you can find my full thoughts here.

The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre

Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough

What I Might Read Next

I’m still reading by whim and hoping to find a way through this reading slump. These three books are the one that most appeal to me at the moment so I hope I can read them in the coming days.

Summer by Ali Smith

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

Life in Pieces by Dawn O’Porter

What are you reading at the moment? I’d love to chat about your current read in the comments. If you’ve posted a WWW Wednesdays post please feel free to share your link before and I’ll read your post. 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (2 Sep 20)! What are you reading this week?

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading!

Current Reads

These are the four books that I’m currently reading. All of them are excellent but I’m really intrigued by The Upstairs Room at the moment so that is my main read.

Spring by Ali Smith

The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne

Here Is The Beehive by Sarah Crossan

Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink

Recent Reads

I really enjoyed all four of these books this week. I think Three was my favourite as it just went in a direction that I wasn’t expecting and completely shocked me. I also loved Long Bright River, I’m so pleased I finally got to read it.

Three by D. A. Mishani

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar

My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams

What I Might Read Next

I’m still not reading as much as I normally do, I just don’t feel motivated to pick a book up. Once I’m reading I do enjoy it though so I’m hoping this feeling passes soon. The books that most appeal to me at the moment are these four so hopefully I’ll get to read them this week. 🙂

The Storm by Amanda Jennings

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

Stacking the Shelves with a brand new Book Haul (15 Aug 20)

new sts.png
Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

Review Books

Life in Pieces by Dawn O’Porter

Dawn O’Porter has been thinking about life. In lockdown. Mostly from a cupboard. From reflections on grief and identity, bad hair and parenting, sleep and spirituality, to the things we can control and the things we cannot, Dawn’s daily diaries track the journey – for a hilarious, heartbreaking and highly entertaining glimpse into the new normal. LIFE IN PIECES is a book for anyone who’s been thrown into a life they didn’t plan, or who just wants to stick it to 2020. When it looks like everything’s falling apart, we’ll piece it back together.

Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink

‘Reading has saved my life, again and again, and has held my hand through every difficult time’ For as long as she can remember, Cathy Rentzenbrink has lost and found herself in stories. Growing up she was rarely seen without her nose in a book and read in secret long after lights out. When tragedy struck, books kept her afloat. Eventually they lit the way to a new path, first as a bookseller and then as a writer. No matter what the future holds, reading will always help. Dear Reader is a moving, funny and joyous exploration of how books can change the course of your life, packed with recommendations from one reader to another.

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

Alexandra is 25, mixed-race and from Essex. As a trainee criminal barrister, she finds herself navigating a world and a set of rules designed by a privileged few. This is her story. We follow Alexandra through a criminal justice system still divided by race and class. We hear about the life-changing events that motivated her to practice criminal law, beginning with the murder of a close family friend and her own experiences of knife crime. She shows us how it feels to defend someone who hates the colour of your skin or someone you suspect is guilty, and the heart-breaking cases of youth justice she has worked on. We see what it’s like for the teenagers coerced into county line drug deals and the damage that can be caused when we criminalise teenagers. Her story is unique in a profession still dominated by a privileged section of society with little first-hand experience of the devastating impact of violent crime.

Library Books (BorrowBox App)

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

“Jarvious Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.” As the United States celebrates the nation’s “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status–much like their grandparents before them. In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community–and all of us–to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams

The year is 1871. In Ashwell, Massachusetts, at the farm of Samuel Hood and his daughter Caroline, a mysterious flock of red birds descends. Samuel, whose fame as a philosopher has waned in recent years, takes the birds’ appearance as an omen that the time is ripe for his newest venture. He will start a school for young women, guiding their intellectual development as he has so carefully guided his daughter’s. Despite Caroline’s misgivings, Samuel’s vision–revolutionary, as always; noble, as always; full of holes, as always–takes shape. It’s not long before the students begin to manifest bizarre symptoms. Rashes, fits, headaches, verbal tics, night wanderings. In desperation, the school turns to the ministering of a sinister physician–based on a real historic treatment–just as Caroline’s body, too, begins its betrayal. As the girls’ conditions worsens, long-buried secrets emerge, and Caroline must confront the all-male, all-knowing authorities around her, the ones who insist the voices of the sufferers are unreliable. In order to save herself, Caroline may have to destroy everything she’s ever known.

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂