They are three sisters. They banter, fight and tease each other. They also have superpowers that could potentially endanger their lives. They’re the Parker sisters and you will definitely want to get to know them.
Thelonious Legend’s latest novel ‘Childish Things’ further delves into the lives of Eve, Gwen and Ana. Three teenagers who are trying to figure out how to deal with their newfound abilities isn’t anything new. Already at an awkward stage they now have to contend with abnormal growth spurts, sporadic itching, and worse yet not being able to play sports. They’re too smart, too athletic. Essentially they have to dumb themselves down. But even doing that, they still would be considered by the outside world the smartest people in the room. What makes this novel interesting is Legend’s ability to have these powers be a part of their lives. There isn’t the obsession of why me. Instead these girls want to improve their skillset so that they could defeat whatever’s after them. They want to protect themselves and each other. More importantly there is a self-awareness that the world isn’t ready for them. Most of the narrative is seen through the eyes of middle daughter Gwen. It is her insecurities, school pranks and the need to understand her new reality where the reader is anchored. This helps you navigate this world and like a true bibliophile make you complicit in the ongoing adventure. Which will lead you to finding that other than other origin stories the mystery doesn’t rely on how they got their powers, but who is behind it. Apparently their father’s childhood friend is used to playing with lives without asking permission. David’s narcissistic behavior hurts anyone who comes into contact with him. However, his destructiveness creates drama and tension.
And while a well-crafted story will draw you in, it’s the small moments that will keep you there. You will feel the gravitas of the moment as 15-year old Kang (a friend of Eve’s) goes to pay his respects to the eldest matriarch of the Parker girls. As he kneels before this woman who’s seen a world which has not always welcomed her, you will stop reading and start experiencing this book. His paying homage to this elderly, Black woman says more about righting the wrongs of the history of sexism and racism in the U.S. than any self-righteous, sanctimonious speech maker. In essence, just when you think you’re reading about burgeoning superheroes, a bit of humanity is slipped in.
Legend has taken a list of characters with multiple backgrounds and different cultures to show that the problems of the world all stem from junior high. Everything is magnified. Emotions, relationships, they all become super-important. Still within that microcosm you will find allies and perhaps a family. For the Parker sisters, these talented, young Black ladies are growing into a life where they have the potential to be heroes. As a reader you want to continue to see the journey. What type of heroes will they become? Will they grow apart and lose the most important power of all – patience in being around your family? Whatever happens you will want to participate in the lives of the Parkers.