Agent Molly Jaffa of Folio Literary Management sent me a proof for TABULA RASA, a debut novel by Kristen Lippert-Martin to be released September 23. I read Lippert Martin’s book and totally loved it, so I logged onto Goodreads to write a review and could not believe what I found. Some reviewers wrote glowing, positive recommendations for the book – like mine. Others, however, who totally missed the point of several scenes, in my opinion, wrote things about TABULA RASA that were ridiculous. One went as far as to say the author was racist.
Seriously? Come on!
The story is a nail-biting page-turner with lots of surprising twists about a sixteen-year-old Latina named Angel who has been undergoing experimental surgeries on her brain to erase her memories in a hospital located in the mountains somewhere. She’s been told by the doctors and nurses she should be grateful for the opportunity to be rid of the torment of her delinquent past, so she can start a new life. As she gets set for the final operation to become a true blank slate, or tabula rasa, the lights go out. Someone whispers a cryptic message and puts a handful of pills in Angel’s hand, moments before a bunch of commando guys rush into the secluded hospital spraying bullets, killing staff and other patients.
The premise is what nightmares are made of: memory loss and disorientation in the midst of gunfire and the discovery that
you’re the target. Angel is a kick ass heroine who takes the pills she’s been given and begins to remember bits and pieces of her life as she survives against incredible odds.
Kristin Lippert-Martin wrote draft after draft to create an excellent story, went through the arduous task of finding an awesome agent from a reputable literary firm to get behind her, and with the help of that agent, found an editor at Egmont USA to believe in her and her story.
Then before TABULA RASA even comes out, a reviewer publishes smack about how the computer-hacker-geek that Angel runs into, the love interest who helps her to survive this insane situation, says something silly about her being Mexican. The thing Thomas says isn’t mean, just clueless. The dialogue is congruent with his socially-challenged character, not at all racist. The reviewer grouses that of course the hero/sidekick who helps Angel with his amazing hacking skills is a white guy, however, she fails to mention that the evil character who has done her best to ruin Angel’s life, and ultimately tries to end it, is also white. Further, Angel’s memories of her deceased Latina mother are the sweetest, most endearing scenes. Her mother was probably my favorite secondary character. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that the reviewer didn’t discuss Angel’s mother.
Race is a hot button for some people, though, even me sometimes. Late last year, I attended a seminar educating young Latinas about the political process and how they should get involved in their communities. The keynote speaker quipped that Barbara Boxer, our California senator, was “okay for a white woman,” which was insulting. I’ll never forget the experience of being one of the two white people in that audience. Maybe that grumpy book reviewer had a similar experience as a Latina, so she was particularly sensitive to the lame comment the character makes in TABULA RASA. His comment doesn’t bother Angel, and it’s surprising that it bothered the reviewer. The truth is, Kirsten Lippert-Martin’s book is an incredibly intense, fun read.