I read some books in August, and many of them were written for grown ups!
THE COLOR PURPLE was a book club pick, the last of our summer fiction picks. It's amazing, of course. There's a lot that can unpacked here about physical/sexual abuse, small southern black communities and race stratification, and how patriarchy hurts men and women. Even just thinking about THE HELP makes me mad, but both TH and TCP are set during a similar time period, so if you are ever like, "Should I read THE HELP?" I would read this instead, or any of the books on this list or this list. (Both of these lists mention THE STREET, as they should, because it is SO GOOD. And sad).
I read the entire book in 14 hours, though to be fair, 100% of those hours were Vicodin fueled after my wisdom tooth removal.
Words cannot even begin to describe how much I fangirl over Roxane Gay. Buying her novel was a duh, a no brainer, but I was not prepared for how it would consume my life. I read it in less than 24 hours, and then when I finally finished, I had to take a long walk, feeling sad and hopeful and insignificant, all at the same time. This is the first book I recommend to people, especially if they are in book clubs.
I tried to see Roxane Gay speak at the Brooklyn Book Festival, but the line was three (!!!) blocks long. That's okay. I'll always have the memory of her reading her review of Battleship (!!!) at Franklin Park.
The premise of YOUR FACE IN MINE is that racial reassignment surgery now exists for people who feel they were born the wrong race/ethnicity, and the protagonist has been selected to chronicle this major breakthrough. I want everyone to read it so we can talk about it, but I also hated the ending and am not extra eager to subject my friends to it.
A lot of the novel felt like reading ruin porn of Baltimore, which I couldn't help but love for how familiar the landmarks were, but it also made me incredibly uncomfortable. Do Baltimore's poorest neighborhoods really need a white dude to wax poetics about dilapidated row homes? The answer is almost always, no. (But that won't stop me from reading it.) In terms of pros: the voice is so well done here--lonely, mournful, desperate for any physical/emotional connection, it reminded me a lot of Nicole Krauss's A HISTORY OF LOVE plus it aggressively raises some interesting questions about identity and choice. Someone please read this so I can talk about it with you!
Tana French is brilliant, and each time I read one of her novels, I'm blown away by how spooky, magical, and beautifully written they are. She is the only author whose book I rush out and buy in hardcover on its release day, without fail. (Except for my bosses and PLL authors, of course!).
THE SECRET PLACE is Tana's take on teens; there's murder, sex, first love, broken hearts, and zealously guarded friendships between girls, with jumping points of views, unreliable narrators, and multiple timelines. I would say this is maybe my third favorite Tana French novel, but to be sure, I'd have to reread all of her books. (A task I would happily take on). If you are new to Tana French, then I would start with THE LIKENESS or IN THE WOODS and then immediately quit your job so you can pound through the other four.