A CONSPIRACY OF MOTHERS – Collen van Niekerk

South African. Historical. Magical Realism.  Colleen Van Niekerk’s A Conspiracy of Mothers (Little A 2021) is a novel of mothers and the lengths they will go to protect their children.  It’s a novel of magic and calling on the ancestors. It’s a novel of Black, coloured, and white.  It’s a novel of forbidden love, violentContinue reading “A CONSPIRACY OF MOTHERS – Collen van Niekerk”

THE HIGH HOUSE – Jessie Greengrass

It’s fitting that the sky is pouring buckets as I write this review/reaction to Jessie Greengrass’s The High House (Scribner 2021), a climate fiction (cli fi) novel in which weather becomes unpredictable and the sea takes back the earth.  Much like the other environmental dystopian reads of late, the novel focuses on family dynamics.  (eg.Continue reading “THE HIGH HOUSE – Jessie Greengrass”

THE LOVE SONGS OF W.E.B. Du BOIS – Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’s debut novel, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois (Harper 2021), is a five-star historical saga.  Jeffers’s background in poetry gives this chunky book a cadence and rhythm that carries the voices of the silenced ancestors such they stay with you long after the last page.  The truths and horrors of AmericanContinue reading “THE LOVE SONGS OF W.E.B. Du BOIS – Honorée Fanonne Jeffers”

THAT SUMMER – Jennifer Weiner

The title of Jennifer Weiner’s That Summer (Atria Books 2021) immediately brought a smile to my face as I recalled another That Summer.  When the novel started with “She is fifteen years old that summer,” I was reminded even more of Sarah Dessen’s 1996 novel about fifteen-year-old Haven, a novel set at the beach duringContinue reading “THAT SUMMER – Jennifer Weiner”

SKIN OF THE SEA – Natasha Bowen

“Here is a story.  Story it is…” Billing Natasha Bowen’s Skin of the Sea (Random House 2021) as Children of Blood and Bone meets The Little Mermaid does it a bit of disservice; just because a book centers around Yoruba spirits (Orisa/Orisha) doesn’t mean it has to be compared to every other book that alsoContinue reading “SKIN OF THE SEA – Natasha Bowen”

THE SENTENCE – Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich’s The Sentence (Harper 2021) was my last read of the year, and it was my favorite read of the year.  (I didn’t think anything would edge out Black Sun, but Erdrich’s effortless, timely and amazing storytelling did.  I shouldn’t have been surprised; Erdrich has been weaving some of my favorite stories for decades.)Continue reading “THE SENTENCE – Louise Erdrich”

ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES – Charlotte McConaghy

Charlotte McConaghy’s Once There Were Wolves (Flatiron Books, 2021) is a slow burn of an environmental novel that begins tumbling fast into a whodunnit. McConaghy skillfully masters three classic literary conflicts in this novel that initially appears to be man versus nature before turning to man versus man before showing its true colors as manContinue reading “ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES – Charlotte McConaghy”

WHEN TWO FEATHERS FELL FROM THE SKY – Margaret Verble

Margaret Verble’s When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky (Mariner Books 2021) is one of those disappointing novels that simply does not live up to its potential. It’s a perfectly okay read, but I wanted it to be as great as a historical novel written by Verble about a Cherokee horse diver should have been.Continue reading “WHEN TWO FEATHERS FELL FROM THE SKY – Margaret Verble”

WE ARE NOT LIKE THEM – Christine Pride & Jo Piazza

I’ve read mixed reviews of Christine Pride and Jo Piazza’s joint novel We Are Not Like Them (Atria Books, 2021), but this was to be expected with such a heavy topic.  Some of the criticism was very fair, but much of it revolved around unrealistic expectations and a failure to recognize the delicate balance PrideContinue reading “WE ARE NOT LIKE THEM – Christine Pride & Jo Piazza”

SANKOFA – Chibundu Onuzo

Chibundu Onuzo’s Sankofa (Catapult, 2021) is one of the best books I’ve read in 2021.  It would have been in my top three but for the last quarter of the novel, which I don’t think carries the same power and charm as the rest of the work.  Regardless, it’s a fantastic read about family, belonging,Continue reading “SANKOFA – Chibundu Onuzo”