Vivek Oji is dead, you know this from the very beginning of the story. Regardless of that fact, Akwaeke Emezi pulls readers in and completely tears them apart with the power of this story. Set in the middle class towns of Nigeria, Vivek explores the world of the Nigerwives, immigrant women who have married Nigerian men and created their own community(like his own mother), seeking solace in their femininity and finding comfort in their love. As Vivek tries to conform to his families expectations, he begins experiencing strange blackouts and bouts of disorientation from the psychological strain. When he finally begins to allow himself to explore his gender presentation and his own femininity, Vivek starts to get better just in time for his whole world to come crashing down. Told from alternating perspectives, Vivek's tale is that of him discovering his true self, and only when he has finally become the most confident in his true identity does tragedy strike. Heartbreaking in the fact that the majority of his story is told by the people who could never truly see him, Emezi is back and renders a beautiful tale of identity and tragedy, but still manages to leave the reader with at least a glimmer of hope. – Elisa
This was one of those books that I needed to mark up. I flagged pages and highlighted sentences. I put it down multiple times because I needed to let the words fully settle in and absorb what was said. In this incredible debut, Brandon Taylor dives into the fine nuances of microagressions and so much more. Wallace is black, gay, southern, and trying on a daily basis to navigate his daily life as a grad student in the biochem department at a Midwestern University. Wallace's collective inner monologue gives the reader real perspective of what everyday life looks like for him. From the complexities of the relationships with his all-white group of friends to what it's like for him daily as a black student in a white dominated field; Real Life breaks down the bleak truth behind the emotional implications faced by so many like Wallace. It should be read and talked about and shared. It is timely, necessary, and a complete feat of a debut novel.
I found myself completely transfixed from the first page of this book. Carmen Maria Machado cuts herself open and completely pours herself out in this genre defying memoir. Delving deep into the murky waters of domestic abuse, with care and style, Machado brings the reader into the inner most parts of her personal experiences. A necessary and timely work, this book explores a far too unexamined reality of abuse in queer relationships. Breathtaking in both its beauty and its terrifying reality, Machado clearly exemplifies incredible writing.
In an adaptation of the eponymous song, Rivers Solomon delivers an incredible underwater mythos in a dreamlike tale. Memory is always a fickle thing, but it can be even more challenging when it is your job to hold the memories of your entire people. Yetu holds the weight of her peoples' history within herself. From the induction of their species to this moment in time, it is her responsibility to hold their entire generational trauma until The Remembering, the time when she acts as a conduit for an entire community and they all share in the memories. Immersive and heart wrenching, Solomon's adaptation of clippings.'s song has as much depth as it does beauty.
Imagine a world where oppression is a thing of the past. It has been completely irradiated along with racism, sexism, and all of the other monsters in existence. This is the world Jam has grown up in. This is the New Lucille. So when a creature arises from a combination of a drop of Jam’s blood and her mother’s painting claiming to be on the hunt for a monster, Jam isn’t quite sure what to believe. And worse, the monster is supposedly in her best friend Redemption’s house. In their timely young adult debut, Akwaeke Emezi renders an incredible story that deftly takes on the current perils of our world while upending Jam’s. Fighting to save her reality as she has always known it, Jam realizes just how hard it can be to take on a monster in a world where everyone around her refuses to acknowledge that they exist.
When I first read the premise of this book I was immediately drawn in. A zombie apocalypse told from the perspective of a domesticated crow? Count me in. Once I started it, I didn’t want to put it down, but I also realized that this book is so much more than what it initially seemed. With wit and wisdom, humor and heart, Buxton tells the tale of not what happens to humans when their world ends, but what happens to the world around them. Told from alternating animal perspectives, mostly from S.T. (the cursing domesticated crow with a severe addiction to Cheetos and unlikely hero), this book is takes on the affects our actions are having on the world, and what it can mean for the future of more than just our species. In this incredible debut, Buxton creates beautiful rendering of nature’s triumphant resurgence in a post-apocalyptic world. - Elisa