Capital Region Reads: Exploring Van Gogh and modern-day racism

Bond with brother helped with artist's success

Categories: Entertainment

Ashleigh Whitfield, the Young Adult/Youth Services librarian at Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library, recommends two YA titles that are poignant and moving. One takes a look at modern-day racism and the other explores how Vincent Van Gogh’s relationship with his brother contributed to his eventual success.  

‘Vincent and Theo,’ by Deborah Heiligman

This tragic and moving story of two brothers brings new, enlightened meanings to what you think you know about the art and life of Vincent van Gogh. Heavily based on the personal letters Vincent exchanged with his younger brother, Theo, Heiligman recounts how the strong bond they formed during a walk to a windmill proved monumentally influential for the rest of their personal and professional lives. Through the financial support Theo provided, to Heiligman’s devastating look at mental illness in the late 19th century, it quickly becomes clear that without Theo, the world may never have known anything about Vincent.

‘The Hate U Give,’ by Angie Thomas

Starr teeters between two different versions of herself — a girl from a poor black neighborhood vs. a student at a mostly white “bougie” school. When a police officer murders her friend in front of her, Starr struggles to come forward publicly. While the main story focuses on Starr’s developing understanding of the world around her, the major conflicts are centered on modern-day racism, the relationship between police officers and black citizens, media portrayal of black victims and the lack of opportunities in black communities.

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