In the intro to one of the Tess Monaghan books Laura Lippmann talks about 2009 bringing to the world this book, which was getting some of her best journalism reviews, which very well might be true, but boy do readers seem to really hate this one. I think it’s ok, and not my favorite of her books, and not remotely my favorite of her non-Tess books either.
In this book a best-selling memoirist, whose first book told the story of when her white father went out on the weekend of Martin Luther King’s assassination into the “Baltimore riots” he saved a woman from being raped, was beaten by her assailants, and fell in love with her and left his family. This ruined the author’s (like) 8th birthday party as he had gone out to pick up a cake. The author, who grew up in Baltimore, and attended Western High School for a year and was friends with a group of Black girls who she’s since drifted apart from, is returning to this era and subject-matter in the wake of disastrous reviews of her first foray into fiction.
This new book will address a famous court case in the lives of one of these past friends who was accused of killing her child, a case that went unsolved because of the accused woman’s refusal to say anything other than pleading the fifth, for which she sat in jail for seven years.
As she’s investigating the case, she meets back with her friends who inform her that her position as a white woman meant she never really understood almost any of the much more complicated subject matter she had written about for her first memoir.
So this book hinges on whether you think Laura Lippmann is successfully navigating the subject matter or simply recreating those same blindspots and indictments she levies against her writer character.