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Promise the Night: 12/16/18
Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl is a fictionalization of the tweenage years of Beryl Markham, best known for her career as a pilot. She raised in what's now Kenya, the daughter of a man who raised horses. She wrote about her time growing up along side the boys of the nearby village.
This book chronicles the arrival of the mistress of Beryl's father. She sets out to civilize Beryl, who would rather hang out with the village boys and learn how to be a warrior.
The story didn't gel for me. To show young Beryl and the headstrong, adventurer that she grew up to be, every scene is crafted to show her going against authority or being as masculine as possible. Instead, we're given a handbook of white privilege and colonialism.
The local boys and the man who train to be warriors are written in that annoying exotic styled English to show how different they are, even though at their first meeting with Beryl, it's stated plainly that she is bilingual. Somehow though, her sentences come across as proper English, while theirs do not. There is no reason beyond racism to write it this way.
The best parts of the book are the interstitial snippets of articles and interviews with adult Beryl regarding her aviation. While they are probably meant to parallel her childhood adventures, they instead serve to frustrate the reader by giving glimpses of a much more compelling story, and one that doesn't rely on cultural appropriation.