I’ll be honest: it really concerned me that this book was written by a white guy. I have hesitations about whether this is entirely his story to tell, and I’d like to hear a POC’s perspective on it. I think it was written and handled well, but I’m saying that will the full awareness that it’s not fully mine to judge. Frankly, this is a story that includes the n-word a lot and presents the first person perspective of a Black man in a world where slavery was never abolished in four states. There are points in the story where he is shackled, beaten, kidnapped, called various racial slurs, and forced to accompany a white woman while pretending to be her servant to gain access to certain places. There is definitely part of me that wonders what exactly made Ben H. Winters sit down at a desk and decide that this was a book he should write.
From my own perspective, though, since it’s the only one I am qualified to speak from – I’m awfully glad he did. I loved every page of it. I thought Victor was one of the most rich, complex, beautifully written characters I’ve read, and I think I fell a little bit in love with him. I felt like the plot dragged a bit around the middle and was unnecessarily convoluted, which should really make it a contender for four stars rather than five, but I just loved the inside of Victor’s mind so much that I can’t stand not to give it five. It was really, really neat that it was set in the city where I live (most of it, anyway), with vividly detailed descriptions of places and streets. I may read this again at some point, which is really saying a lot.