The latest GDST Book Club Live celebrated and explored diverse narratives in literature, with a surprise visit from one of the featured authors
As the GDST prepares for the launch of its Undivided initiative, the latest GDST Book Club Live event celebrated and discussed diverse narratives in literature.
The event featured special guests, Cecile Halliday, Deputy Head of Sutton High Prep School and Trust Consultant for Diversity and Inclusion, who spoke about the GDST’s Undivided Initiative as well as presenting on her chosen book, Taking UP Space: The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change by Chelsea Kwakye and Wimbledon High alumna, Ore Ogunbiyi. She was joined by Claire Bale, Director of Marketing at Nottingham Girls’ High School, who shared her thoughts on the psychological thriller Darling by Rachel Edwards.
“Both books discussed were grounded in real-life experiences”
In a last-minute addition to the speaking panel, Rachel Edwards, who heard about the event via Twitter, accepted an invitation to join in. It was a thrill to have her at the event and gave Claire a chance to ask Rachel some questions about Darling and for Rachel to talk about the genesis of Darling. She also took questions from students in the audience and generously offered her time to any budding writers who wanted advice in the future, too.
The event was open to Sixth Form students from across the GDST family of schools, with all Year 12 and 13 pupils at Nottingham Girls’ High School coming off timetable and staff and students from across the network dialling in to the online event.
Cecile Halliday, who gave an inspiring talk about representation and inclusion, said:
“We are now all starting to open our eyes, ears and perspectives to viewpoints that we may not have considered previously. Exploring a variety of narratives whilst encouraging and sharing platforms that are amplifying underrepresented viewpoints created a great angle for the latest Book Club Live event. Through Taking up Space, our attending Sixth Formers heard a voice grounded in 16 other black British female experiences which takes them beyond the point of getting the grades, getting a great personal statement and getting into a great university. The honesty and the reality is presented in a way that gives girls the armour to survive and thrive in lives beyond our GDST family of schools.
“The books discussed offered a great balance between reality and fiction, but both are grounded by real life experiences. I am now eager to read Darling by Rachel Edwards; it was captivating to hear how elements in the plot and characters developed and how in this instance the seed in the mind of the author was initially planted after the result of Brexit referendum had been declared.”
Claire Bale reflected on the positivity of the event:
“Sharing these books with the Sixth Formers across the GDST family was an important opportunity to open up further conversations about race, equality and diversity. To have Rachel Edwards share her personal story and perspective on her successful novel, Darling, was a privilege. She is a true role model for our GDST students – sharing her knowledge, time and commitment to driving change.”
Cecile Halliday concluded:
“Most of all, I hope that everyone can open themselves to hearing, sharing, discussing and exploring new conversations which can only serve to knit and mesh us all so that the thought of being undivided becomes yet another reality and not just an imagined notion.”