Clovis’ (The Future Is My Past, 2017, etc.) memoir, filled with personal tales and accounts of different social justice issues, considers Princeton University and its city.
Though the author seemed to conclude her Princeton-centric books with what she dubbed the Princeton Trilogy, her fourth book continues to expand on the topic. Short chapters cover a variety of events in the city, many of which Clovis has experienced personally. In the latter half of 2017, for example, residents held a solar eclipse viewing party; a remembrance for victims of the Vegas shooting; and a vigil for Xiyue Wang, a Princeton University graduate detained in Iran on a conviction of espionage. The author likewise shares her views on incidents of racism and discrimination. These include Princeton barbers in the 1960s who refused to cut black people’s “wiry hair” to, more recently, racist language and imagery appearing on a Princeton middle school website. Clovis also addresses anti-Semitism and sexual assault, namely the #MeToo Movement. But personal moments prevail; she recalls shopping at a Princeton store that carried old-school vinyl records and spending teatime with her grandmother. The anecdotes that stand out, however, are stories of Ms. Ida B., an elderly Princeton woman whom the author interviewed for her first book and later befriended. It’s clear Ms. Ida B. is not merely an interview subject, but part of Clovis’ life. The two women attended theatrical performances on slavery. It’s a moment of welcome candor; Clovis is clearly part of the city she documents. Descriptions throughout are concise and colorful: “The white snow illuminates the landscape bright as the black ice recalls the burns of snow plow scraping across its face.” Though Clovis thoroughly examines intolerance in her city and beyond, the book’s ending is more personal than political.
An inspiring, lyrical fusion of pertinent social issues and the writer’s own experiences.