Sexuality, race, and best friends: Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala
Speak No Evil is a powerful and gripping novel about speaking the truth and escaping being confined by others’ words. Niru is a top student and runner at his private school in Washington DC with a place at Harvard when he leaves. His Nigerian parents are attentive and protective, but Niru must keep a secret from them: he is gay. Only his best friend Meredith knows. But when his father founds out the truth, Niru faces brutal fallout and his friendship with Meredith suffers too. The aftereffects build things towards a terrible event that will be misunderstood by most people.
This is a novel about how sexuality and race intersect in a multitude of ways. Niru is a brilliant central character, trying to fight and appease his parents at once and to reconcile various aspects of his identity and personality. His friendship with Meredith forms an important part of the narrative and also a way of showing how even friends can not understand the problems caused by having conflicting elements of life and identity.
The narrative propels you forward and the book shows the violence surrounding people, particularly non-white LGBT people, and how it can erode a sense of self. This is a hard-hitting and relevant novel with a vividly depicted protagonist.