In this first issue produced during the early stages of the COVID pandemic, several writers focus on works of fiction that can provide perspective on some of the harsh realities of life; others focus on activism that takes on real world challenges. Corey Flores looks at a novel that depicts how marginalized individuals, namely socioeconomically-disadvantaged women of color with mental illness, are often met with misunderstanding by health care providers and are therefore left unhealed and hopeless. Continuing this focus on racism in health care, Korinne Minton writes on the value of Young Adult Literature to shed light on historical and contemporary medical injustices faced by people of color. Meanwhile, Jay Henley explores Colin Kaepernick’s real world role as a parrhesiastes (fearless speaker) as the former NFL player works to bring awareness and change to the systemic racism that continues to hold back Black Americans from achieving truly equal citizenship. Moving from reality to dystopia, Theresa VanWormer explores Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale
as it reveals how the patriarchal Puritan ideals on which this country was founded still negatively shape our modern culture. Lastly, Elizabeth Wunsch provides a view of another dystopian novel—Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God
—wherein the conflict between religion and science gives way to something more dangerous: extremism.