Tainted by Hate by Patrice M. Foster is a harrowing but important book about friendship, racism, drug abuse, self-cutting, and trying to rise above it all. Angela and Jessica are good friends, but Angela’s family comes between them, as Angela’s father is a virulent and abusive racist and forbids their relationship. Angela turns to self-harm in the form of drug abuse and cutting, threatening not just the friendship, but her own life. Jessica must help her friend, and Angela must muster the strength to transcend her family and all the damage it has wrought.
Though this is a book laden with hard-pressing issues, it is not overly message driven – it is couched in a tender work of fiction that covers these important issues without reading like veiled non-fiction. This in effect makes its message more resonant and powerful, especially for young adults who may be struggling with these problems. At its core, this is a novel about overcoming your parents conditioning, which you’re told to respect from a very young age, but may also have deleterious effects. It can be enormously difficult for teenagers to break free from their parents at such a young age, but sometimes those outside the home are much healthier and supportive. The novella drives home the idea that blood isn’t always thicker than water. Friendship can actually be a lot stronger.
These are very serious issues and Foster carries the book with much sensitivity and nuance, making the book at once highly-readable and instructive.