We Do What We Do in the Dark by Michelle Hart is one of our school’s considerations for the grade nine de-streamed classroom. These are my thoughts on whether or not we should include this book in our book club selection. To learn more about our Inclusive Classroom Library Project, please click here.
A Brief Plot Outline
Mallory is a quiet, reserved girl who retreats into her own world. This becomes especially true after she has an affair with an older, married woman.
Mallory craves this older woman, admiring her intelligence and success. The woman is everything that Mallory wants to be in the future.
Even years after their breakup, Mallory dwells on what happened. She lives her life in secret and does things that she thinks would impress the woman.
Near the novel’s end, we see that she must decide between immersing herself in a more outward, genuine life or continuing to live it as a series of little secrets.
I’m not usually into stories about relationships, but Michelle Hart’s writing is flawless. It’s literary without being complicated or preachy. There’s a quality to the prose that makes you feel like you’re learning Mallory’s secrets, and it’s something special.
The sex scenes in the novel make it problematic for a grade nine reading choice. I’m not saying it’s automatically out of the running. The book is too good to pass up for that reason. Besides, the sex scenes are very tasteful and not very graphic. There’s just enough detail to keep it sensual.
Who Will Like This?
I think that LGBTQ+ students will generally enjoy the book. Beyond that, I believe anyone who considers themselves alone or lonely, wanting more, will identify with the main character. Mallory is a quiet underdog who is artistic and destined for success. I believe that many young readers will appreciate that aspect of the book.
Also, anyone who enjoys reading will appreciate the book’s easy-access, literary tone. I cannot stress enough how well-written this book is.
The biggest problem will be the sex scenes. Some parents will have a problem with their kids reading this. However, there are so many great things in this book that those complaints seem easy to argue. And I believe having a novel with a lesbian protagonist in the classroom is essential.
I’m only a few novels into the LGBTQ+ pile, but this one is currently at the top of my list. I hope I can convince the others that it should be included on our list because I thought Hart’s writing was powerful.