The purpose of an alternate-reality novel is not just to point out the differences between our situation and the what-ifs, but more jarringly to show the similarities. And that is what I found to be the value (and the horror) of Underground Airlines, because as I read I found myself asking, “But how is this REALLY any different from what black Americans are dealing with in our reality?”
Here’s what I love about Fifteen Lanes: Grace and Noor aren’t pitted against each other. At no point are Grace’s issues made to seem petty compared to Noor’s. At no point is Grace made out to be a savior; and at no point is Noor the girl who “gives Grace perspective.” Because there is nothing as annoying as someone who says, “Wow, look at her struggles, I’m so lucky to have my life” – and then they carry on with their privileged life, thinking that a day spent playing pat-a-cake with some impoverished children absolves them.