How to Analyze White Characters in Book Reviews

If you take the time to read book reviews it’s hard not to notice some…tendencies toward similar language when it comes to the way characters from ethnically diverse backgrounds are reviewed in comparison to white characters. It’s almost as bad as how men are slighted in book reviews! So here’s a quick guide to reviewing white characters in the same careful manner characters of color are reviewed.


  • Mention how surprised you were to discover the main character was white. Repeatedly. White people doing things? How novel!
  • Compare the white character to another white character you once read about in a completely unrelated story. This way, people will know that you have previous experience reading about white people.
  • If this is your first time reading a story with a white main character, mention that at great length. Good on you for broadening your horizons! You deserve a cookie.
  • Remark on how you’ve always been fascinated with white people since you met some on a trip to Restoration Hardware that one time and share some things you learned about white people through your limited interactions with them. Not relevant to the book, but who cares? You met a white person! They are just so inspiring.
  • If the depiction of a white person is different than your experience in real life or the depictions of white people on your favorite TV show, talk about how unconvincing the white people were. White people with Ivy League degrees and good home lives? I watch Judge Judy. Not likely. White people are a monolith of a single experience, and any good book should uphold that narrative.
  • Were there other issues in the story for the character to deal with besides being white? The book is probably trying to tackle too many issues. Discuss how the character’s white identity was enough issue for the story without the distraction of all of those other annoying subplots.
  • If you discover that a character was white and not black or Latin@ like you’d originally thought, talk about how disappointed you are and how tiring it is to always see white characters shoehorned into stories. Haven’t we had enough white characters? At this point it’s just white characters for whiteness’ sakes.
  • If you enjoyed the book mention that it was “good for a book with a white main character.” That isn’t insulting at all!
  • Mention how difficult it was to get used to all of those complicated white names. Honestly, why can’t white people have names that make sense, like Guadalupe or D’Shaundra?


So, what other advice would you give for making sure that white characters get the same close, critical analysis that characters of color get?



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