You know how as a child, one picks up a shiny object. The object looks desirable because it was nice to look at and it captured our attention, no matter how short-lived it was. All that shine and gloss and glitz made us want to pick it up and keep it in our hands or put it in our mouths. Basically, we looked and we took.
Katie Ganshert‘s No One Ever Asked was a book I picked up because I liked the cover. If you rolled your eyes, well I did too as I wrote this. One would think I have outgrown that age. Given what was the deciding factor in picking up this book, No One Ever Asked blindsided me. It was a proper punch to the gut with the story and the writing of it.
No One Ever Asked is about three women. Camille Gray, Jen Covington and Anaya Jones. Camille and Jen are white women. Camille is happily married with three kids, the star of the PTA and single-handedly organised a 5k for Haiti post the earthquake. The 5k run became a tradition and Camille became the go-to for the school PTA and the run. Jen is a nurse who has been trying to adopt. Finally, her wish comes true and she becomes the mother of Jubilee, a seven-year-old from Liberia. Anaya is a young woman, the first to graduate in her family. Her ancestors had gone through hell in the form of slavery and discrimination, to say the least. And Anaya herself has seen the prejudice that the colour of her skin brings about in people. Camille’s kids go to the Crystal Ridge school district. Jen moves there because of her husband’s job. And Anaya gets a job in the same school their children go to, her brother transfers there as well.
The book, No One Ever Asked, starts off with a school district, whose student population is primarily black, facing issues and its subsequent closure. All the students have the option of transferring to other districts and a few of them transfer to the Crystal Ridge district. Parents are shocked to learn that their children may be spending time with students of colour, those who have prior records or use drugs or perhaps something worse. There are those who nonchalantly express their opinions and declare that this ‘trash’ is not welcome. Nonetheless, the transfer happens. A new school year brings with it a new school for some, new faces and new experiences for others.
I am not going into the plot of this story, but I shall tell you that it was rather well done. No One Ever Asked ends at the end of the school year. And in a manner I found ironic. This book was one that will reinforce the concepts of karma and humanity in most people. Where I wanted to smack a few characters at the beginning of the book, I wanted to smirk condescendingly at a few others and rejoice in a group hug with the rest of the characters at the end of the book.
No One Ever Asked is not a light book. It deals heavily with the topic of prejudice and discrimination based on the colour of a person’s skin. There are instances written of how a boy was shot dead by a policeman for playing with a toy gun (this was in the news), but when a white boy actually ends up shooting his friend in a mad tussle he gets off with counselling. Where a white boy can come and go in a neighbourhood, Darius (Anaya’s brother) has the cops called on him by Camille’s neighbours. All because he wanted to visit his friend’s (Camille’s daughter) house. The feeling of fear that these people live with is palpable. It is a living, breathing entity in No One Ever Asked. Camille and her gang fear for their school – if the averages would go down, about the sort of students that would get transferred in and their influences on their own children. Anaya and her family fear if even their everyday actions could rain hell on their lives. Jen doubts her own worth as a mother and fears for the well being of her child. Each of these characters is justified, yet they are all prejudiced in their own stand. Do they get over these fears and prejudices is what No One Ever Asked has managed to ask.
No One Ever Asked will manage to touch a few nerves here and there. It doesn’t matter if you are living in America or Australia or India. Each country comes with own set of prejudices. But today, I can write I know that fear. I can sense it. It is now palpable in everyday life. Where once there was a sense of safety there is now a sense of being preyed upon – because of your religion or your sex or what have you. Recently there was an incident where someone cancelled a cab because it was driven by a Muslim. Of course many justified it while an even more number looked down upon it and made a meme of it. There are distinctions in everyday life that divide us. And those dividing factors are the ones that No One Ever Asked makes us think about. It is a book that will make you feel and then introspect.
If you do think that the society that you live in has a few of these prejudiced views, then something needs to be done. And if you think that you can contribute, in even a small way, to getting over these then Katie Ganshert has done a great job.
PS – No One Ever Asked also relies heavily on prayer, and since all of our main characters are Christians, there’s plenty of the Bible in it. I believe that prayer is prayer, it could be in English, Sanskrit or Urdu. It is the thought and the sentiment behind it that matters the most. I hope you do not let this bit stop you from picking up this book.
You can get a copy of No One Ever Asked here – Amazon, Kobo, Google Books, iBooks.
No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
2 thoughts on “Book Review – No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert”
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I agree with you on the sidenote about prayer being prayer- and honestly this sounds like such a powerful book that it would be shame if something like that put people off. Fantastic review!