Elevate Difference

The Way It Is

Donalda Reid is gutsy to take on heavy racial undertones in her first novel They Way It Is. The story is historical fiction; although, aside from the creation of the main characters, this young adult book is more history than fiction.

Ellen Manery is quietly outspoken and smart. Your typical bookworm with big city ideas, Ellen is considered to be a radical in the small, Canadian town her parents forced her to move to. You have to feel sorry for Ellen, who is more comfortable with books than people, and starts her senior year at a new school where students and teachers alike believe she is way too ambitious for a girl.

All of this starts to change when we meet Tony Paul, a schoolmate of Ellen's who is seemingly as subdued as she is. As the friendship grows between this Shuswap Indian and former city girl, the reader starts to see the racial equality struggles of Canadians take shape. They Way It Is isn't just another book about racial discrimination. Donalda Reid makes it relatable; she doesn't just point out facts, she makes the reader live them.

The biggest lesson in The Way It Is is that while race gets in the way of many things, we don't have to let it. People create the dividing lines between people of different races and ethnicities. And if harmony and acceptance are employed, racism will no longer be justified as simply the way it is.

Written by: Nina Lopez-Ortiz, January 19th 2011

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