The Residue Years, by Mitchell S. Jackson
I always enjoy reading stories about my hometown or seeing it on film (e.g., Grimm), so that's what drew me to The Residue Years. Our local library system featured it for its "Everybody Reads" program.
But this book represents a different part of Portland than where I grew up (in the predominantly white suburbs). What makes it most interesting is that it's an autobiographical novel, based on the author's own life experiences.
Grace is a drug addict, even though she loves her children. She just can't escape the appeal of losing herself (and her troubles) in a haze. And Champ ends up selling drugs, largely because he sees so many people dealing around him...it's the easiest way to make money.
It took me a few chapters to get into this book, but Jackson's writing is beautiful: “She’s been through fire and got a soft spot for folks that seen the flame.”
The Residue Years raises questions of class and privilege. If I had been born and raised in another part of Portland, perhaps to black parents, would I have faced similar obstacles in my path? Probably.
Jackson opens up our city to bring in different perspectives...some of them not always easy to see.