This was the January book club pick for the Reese Witherspoon book club, and a fun read to get through. I enjoyed the “book club” aspect as well, following along with prompts on Instagram and the loads of other folks tackling this book at the same time. On to the book!
This book is clever. It starts with an embarrassing and racist encounter in a grocery store, Emira who is babysitting for Briar is accused by a security guard of kidnapping her. Emira is black, Briar is white, and the security guard is white. So, initially, you think that this is going to be the main conflict of the book, but it isn’t. The reason that Emira was in a grocery store late at night with Briar is because someone broke a window in Briar’s house, and her parents (main characters Alix and Peter) were dealing with the police. You might think THAT is going to be a main point in the book. But it isn’t either.
Instead, this book cleverly jumps POV from Emira, a 25 year old woman at a crossroads trying to decide who she wants to be, Kelley, a white man that she meets and takes an interest in her, and Alix her employer. Emira is the central character, but we are often in both Alix and Kelley’s shoes. There are twists and turns coming at you from all angles and you root for, and against, each of them throughout the novel. In the end, we are left still wondering who is the victim? Who is the right, who is wrong? Reid has taken the white savior story and flipped it sideways, making you as a reader really look into the motivations of each character. As a white woman, I found this book fascinating and it forced me to understand my own motivations/actions as they relate to people of color, even those in my friend circle. This book did not leave me satisfied in the end, not everything was tied up neatly, but, that’s sort of the point.
Nicole Lewis does a great job with the audiobook and characters. I imagine trying to effectively capture a two year old as difficult, but she does a great job with Briar capturing her fun personality and quirks.
It seems that some folks felt the characters stereotypical and superficial, which I can understand, but I still think Reid was successful in giving each of the main characters their own stories and archs and I’ll be recommending this book a lot this year.