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5-STAR REVIEW: NOW LILA KNOWS by Elizabeth Nunez

Now Lila Knows by Elizabeth Nunez, a gripping novel set in a small Vermont town, tackles issues of racism and prejudice through the eyes of Lila Bonnard, a visiting professor from the Caribbean. When Lila witnesses the fatal shooting of an unarmed Black man by the police, she is faced with the difficult decision of whether to speak out against the injustice. As she navigates a community filled with racial tension and mistrust, Now Lila Knows explores themes of love, empathy, and the power of standing up for what is right. This thought-provoking story offers a fresh perspective on racial inequity and challenges readers to confront their own biases.

5-STAR REVIEW: NOW LILA KNOWS by Elizabeth Nunez

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Publication Date: June 7, 2022


For Lila Bonnard, the opportunity to take a position as a visiting professor in the US has come at precisely the right time. Still nursing the wounds of one failed relationship and facing uncertainty over her current boyfriend’s marriage proposal, spending a year at a small liberal arts college in a picturesque Vermont town offers her sanity a well-deserved rest.

Within moments of her arrival, Lila is forced to face anti-immigrant mentalities and becomes a witness to the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Black man—a fellow professor at Mayfield who was giving CPR to a white woman.

The three Black faculty members in the otherwise all-white, tight-lipped college expect Lila to testify in the case—but at what cost? Mistrust of outsiders, racial tensions, even outright condemnation of others who “don’t know their place” . . . all of it comes crashing down around her as she confronts the dangers of speaking out against the police.

Now Lila Knows is a gripping story that explores our obligation to act when confronted with hatred and prejudice. A page-turner with universal resonance, this novel will leave readers rethinking the meaning of love, empathy, and even humanity.

Themes Explored

The novel Now Lila Knows tackles several important themes. One of the major themes explored in the book is the issue of racial prejudice and discrimination. Lila, as an immigrant and person of color, is faced with anti-immigrant mentalities and witnesses a fatal police shooting of an unarmed Black man. This prompts her to confront the dangers of speaking out against the police and navigate the complex dynamics of race and power within a predominantly white community. The novel also explores the themes of love, empathy, and the moral responsibility to take action in the face of hatred and injustice.

5-STAR REVIEW: NOW LILA KNOWS by Elizabeth Nunez

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Plot Summary

Now Lila Knows follows the story of Lila Bonnard, a visiting professor from the Caribbean who arrives in a small Vermont town to teach English at a liberal arts college. However, Lila’s expectations of a peaceful year are shattered when she becomes a witness to the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Black professor who was trying to save a white woman’s life. As one of the few Black faculty members in the college, Lila is expected to testify in the case, but she must navigate the challenges of racial tensions, mistrust, and the potential backlash from speaking out against the police. Throughout the novel, Lila grapples with her own uncertainties, relationship troubles, and the moral dilemmas she faces as she decides whether to stay silent or take a stand against injustice.

Main Characters

  1. Lila Bonnard: The protagonist of the novel, Lila is a Caribbean immigrant and a visiting English professor in the US.
  2. Unnamed Black Professor: A fellow faculty member at Mayfield College who is fatally shot by the police while performing CPR on a white woman.
  3. Lila’s Boyfriend: A character mentioned in the synopsis who proposes to Lila, adding to the uncertainty in her life.
  4. Other faculty members and community members: They contribute to the racial tensions and dynamics within the small Vermont town.

Author Background

Elizabeth Nunez, the author of Now Lila Knows, immigrated to the US from Trinidad after high school. She is a renowned author who has written eight novels and co-edited an anthology titled Blue Latitudes: Caribbean Women Writers at Home and Abroad. Nunez holds a Ph.D. in English from New York University and currently serves as a Distinguished Professor at Hunter College, teaching creative writing. She was also one of the co-founders of the National Black Writers Conference and has received numerous awards for her literary achievements.

Critical Acclaim

Now Lila Knows has received critical acclaim for its thought-provoking storyline and exploration of important themes. The novel has been nominated for various awards, including the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award and the 2012 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Fiction. It has also received starred reviews from notable publications such as Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. Nunez’s writing has been praised for its ability to address racial inequity through a multicultural lens and for offering a fresh perspective on the struggles surrounding skin color and empathy.

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In Now Lila Knows, Elizabeth Nunez crafts a gripping, thought-provoking novel that delves into the complexities of racial tensions, prejudice, and speaking out against injustice. As readers follow Lila Bonnard’s journey as a visiting professor in a predominantly white community, they are confronted with the challenges she faces in a hostile environment. Nunez’s writing shines a spotlight on the importance of empathy, love, and the moral obligation to take action when confronted with hatred and prejudice. Don’t miss the opportunity to dive into this captivating novel and join Lila on her quest for justice and understanding.