‘Our blood is laced with modern histories of unbelievable violence. It is a strange and hybrid brew that you will feel in your body across your life, as I have always felt it in mine.’
Narrated from the perspective of Indian-Jewish Julietta Singh to her six-year-old daughter, whom she co-parents with her best friend, The Breaks is a reflective essay on mixed-race identity, Brown womanhood and queer mothering.
This book is set in almost present-day, in the midst of the pandemic, as the author is recovering from a major neurosurgery (one of many breaks hinted at in the text) and reveals her resulting fear of being incapable of caring for her child. Parts of this book reminded me a lot of Brown Baby by Nikesh Shukla, in particular where she ponders on how she can best prepare her daughter for the brutal world issues that await her - climate change, capitalism and colonial legacy to name a few. While Shukla’s perspective on fatherhood was a refreshing take we rarely hear from, I too appreciated Singh’s awareness of the intergenerational ties between Brown female bodies. My favourite passages in the book were about Singh’s strained relationships with her (now divorced) parents which she in turn uses to end the cycle of inherited trauma with her own daughter.
Reading The Breaks, it was clear to see that Singh knows her critical theory. None of this is revolutionary amongst theorists (particularly Black feminist writers whom Singh has clearly drawn inspiration from) but, nevertheless, her application of universal concepts to every day life and events of our contemporary made reading this book both satisfying and enriching. I felt like I was simultaneously reading someone’s personal diary and receiving a lecture.
A worthwhile read for fans of non-fiction essays, literary theory, feminist manifestos and short books. I’d highly recommend this one!