My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have very mixed feelings about this novel. At first, I wasn't drawn in as quickly or deeply as I would've liked, but after a few chapters it started to grow on me. There are a LOT of short chapters which made it a speedy read but also at times made it feel a bit erratic. Almost like I was watching a movie rather than reading a novel.
I appreciated the dark humor; there were definitely moments that made me laugh. But the moments of laughter didn't make up for how much I disliked the characters. Later on in the novel, the motivations behind their actions are revealed as we delve deeper into their past, but there was nothing redeeming enough to make me feel sympathetic towards them.
Ayoola was a cold-blooded killer without a conscience, no matter what caused her to be that way. Kerede was an enabler caught between a rock and a hard place and while that's understandable, I couldn't get behind her decisions. Her personality also left much to be desired. She was way too judgemental for my taste, not to mention the hypocrisy of resenting everyone for not seeing Ayoola for who she is while also enabling her.
I wanted to enjoy it fully, in all of its moments of levity and darkness, but maybe my tolerance for the characters and their behaviors was much too low for it to capture me the way it could have. It was no doubt an entertaining read, but I just found it difficult to connect to emotionally.
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The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Well done, Brit Bennett, well done! I'll confess, I wasn't too excited when I first read the premise. At the time I was feeling quite fatigued by just about anything dealing with racism and/or colorism, and I feared that I'd find myself feeling some type of way. For the sake of wanting to participate in book club, however, I gave it a shot.
I am SO glad that I didn't judge the book by its synopsis. Don't get me wrong - I felt tons of emotions while reading this book, and not all of them were pleasant. But Bennett's writing is so beautiful and captivating and honest that I was immediately and continuously enthralled.
I found myself emotionally invested in each character, all of whom were presented with breathtaking levels of depth and complexity. This book is a beautiful and painful portrait of humanity. Bennett handles issues of identity so boldly and candidly, evoking sympathy for the characters even in their most frustrating moments.
I loved the arrangement of the plot, which seamlessly carried us across generations, illustrating just how far and wide the reverberations of trauma can travel. Every moment had a purpose. Never once did I find myself bored or wondering where the plot was going, and by the end, I felt that familiar twinge of longing that characterizes a really amazing novel. Wow. Just, wow.
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Harbor by Rebekah Weatherspoon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'd give it a 3.5
Keep in mind that I read this as a stand-alone novel, so I have no clue what transpired in the first two. This is also my first Rebekah Weatherspoon novel so this was also my introduction to her writing style - and I like it. There were moments of humor that I really appreciate in books like these. I was intrigued by the characters, though some more than others. I did feel like they all would've benefited from a bit more depth. I sympathized with them in various moments, but I didn't feel them the way I wanted to. Plot-wise, I could've used a little more. It didn't feel like much really happened.
All that being said, let's be real, that's not why I picked up the book. It was chock full of sexy. Some moments left me wide-eyed and gasping. I mean downright filthy - and I'm here for it, lmao. It's definitely not for the faint of heart or narrow-minded. I appreciate an author who's willing to go there. An author who is unafraid to present characters with sexual complexities and love lives that are unorthodox. This book was an experience, and I'm glad I had it. I'm eager to read more of what Rebekah Weatherspoon has to offer.
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