To Ellen Manery, a brilliant, introverted, socially isolated fifteen-year-old, there is nothing good about the summer of 1967, especially when her parents decide to move to a small town in the interior of British Columbia. All the big ideas of the 1960s—the civil rights movement, the sexual revolution, women's rights—have not had much of an effect on this small community. Ellen has always been more interested in studying than a social life, but that begins to change when she meets Tony Paul, an eighteen-year-old who belongs to the Shuswap Indians and lives on the nearby reserve. When school starts it is Tony's friendship that gives Ellen the strength to endure the loneliness, racism, discrimination, and antifeminism she must face during her last year in high school. As Tony and Ellen's friendship turns into something deeper, they must decide if they can break free of society's rules and forge their own future.
Based on the summary, this book sounds completely thought-provoking, interesting and engaging, correct? Honestly, I found the aspects of this novel surrounding racism extremely well done. I wanted to like this novel, but something about it was just very “meh” for me.
At the start of the novel, Ellen is a character whose life revolves entirely around getting the best grades possible. She doesn’t have a lot of friends, and doesn’t make an effort to change that fact. Eventually, Ellen had a character arc and was willing to change, but this happened too slowly for me to feel passionate about this plot, because I was getting impatient. I wanted to love Tony, but his character just never clicked for me.
The writing of this story was another thing that never clicked for me. It wasn’t anything particularly special. Sometimes the characters would drop in a “That’s the way it is” sentence which was a bit too obvious for me.
While it had a lot of great content, I found The Way It Is poorly executed. However, I applaud the author for so boldly tackling issues of racism and feminism. I would certainly consider giving other books by this author a chance.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Star Book Tours.