Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson tells her young adult audience that "caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance." But Wilkerson adroitly illuminates the whole auditorium by turning three intense spotlights on "the chilling... officially vanquished caste system of Nazi Germany," "the lingering, millennia-long caste system of India" and "the unspoken, race-based" system in the United States. This in-depth exploration pulls ugly secrets out of the shadows and gives name and shape to the "caste pyramid." Wilkerson's adaptation of her bestselling adult book brings this weighty subject to an accessible level for teen readers.
While this edition has been designed for young readers, adults who may have been hesitant to tackle the 500+ pages of the original should also find this version approachable and engrossing, as the adaptation provides a level of accessibility without compromising content. Wilkerson undoubtedly respects her YA readers and provides them a level of authenticity and honesty that reflects this esteem. She explains, "It turns out that everyone benefits when society meets the needs of the disadvantaged," then outlines how they can be a part of the solution: "in a world without caste, we would all be invested in the well-being of others... and recognize that we are in need of one another more than we have been led to believe." --Jen Forbus, freelancer