Lovers of Ta-Nehisi Coates will not be surprised to learn that his debut novel is just as illuminating and nuanced as his non-fiction. The Water Dancer joins the large echelon of American slave escape narratives but Coates makes it personal, makes it universal, connects the threads to the arc of existence. Coates does not use magical realism but the novel sits right on the cusp, the power of faith and love is written with such reverence you feel the magic and despair in existence. Coates manages to write a spiritual feeling that sweeps you up and reminds you how small you are and how we are all one and the same. My favorite portions feature Harriet Tubman in all her enchanting glory. I loved this book. I am sure this will not be an original opinion for long.
Readers will be gripped by Katherine’s pursuits, her triumphs and her flaws. She is the ultimate heroine, ahead of her time and brilliant with all obstacles in her way. The Tenth Muse checks many boxes while still drawing us in to its every facet; it is a heroic tale, a family mystery, a historical fiction, a feminist example.
The most unnerving aspect of Mackintosh's debut dystopian novel is that the dangerous, outside world that the three protagonist sisters try desperately to isolate themselves from is not explicitly different from the world we live in today. Fiercely feminist, simultaneously ethereal and incarnate, this novel makes its way under your skin, leaving you both enchanted and disturbed.
Tommy Orange's There There examines a community wrenched from history, fighting a dissassociation from their pride, their past, their souls. Twelve deeply flawed and sympathetic characters work to overcome states of dissonance all arising from a severing of their sense of individuality from their cultural heritage. An unparalleled look into modern day Native American life.
Anna Burns' Man Booker-winning Milkman has divided readers. It's a dense read and requires constant attention and interest, but I think the dedicated reader will be rewarded with a unique experience. In her account of the struggles in Northern Ireland, Burns' emphasis on identifiers sends a powerful message about the lines we draw in the sand between us and them. The close first person novel follows the evolution of a young woman coming of age in a peaceless nation. She comes to learn how, sometimes, what is intangible can still be so very real.
" The Ghost Wall is about the history that haunts us, both personal and cultural. Sarah Moss writes with a descriptive starkness that wraps you up and then leaves you as an observer. The plot is sparse it's from the perspective of a girl pulled back into the past's arcane practices by her abusive father and a group of students hoping to understand Iron age Briton. It is a quiet and thoughtful book, a mere 130 pages long it won't disappoint and you will be thinking about it days after you have finished the last page."
"This book made me strangely exhilerated. It is written with reflection and humor and follows the relationship of two sisters devoted to one another. One of them happens to be a serial killer. It is a story that allows women to be all the conflicted things they are: loving and violent, used to pain, ruled by both emotion and reason. I read it in a day and desperately wanted more."
The Friend is a sad, funny, thoughful book on friendship, creativity, and a few other small things like life and death. It's a book for dog lovers that isn't dripping with sentimentality. It's a book you'll want to revisit again and again.
"If you love archaic folklore, dark thrillers and the under-explored mystery of mother and child this is the book for you. It goes down very smooth while asking you to question how we understand reality, myth and emotion (being the irrational species that we are.) If you want a book to completely engross you, this is a great pick."
Lisa Halliday's gorgeous debut novel will have you mentally picking apart its many layers for weeks, even months. In three distinct sections that seem at first unrelated, Halliday intelligently comments on ideas such as our desire to be remembered, the limits of our own perspective, and the space that art can or cannot occupy in our lives. Open this book and find yourself falling down the rabbit hole that is Lisa Halliday's mind.