I was working at Borders (moment of silence for my favorite former workplace) twenty years ago when Zadie Smith’s debut novel White Teeth was flying off the shelves.
Theo and Maddie eat so much pizza that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would be jealous. There are so many mentions of ordering pizza when they hang out during their months-long relationship that I, barely a pizza fan, bought a frozen pizza when I went grocery shopping. It was not on the list! Neither were the Klondike bars, but I digress. It’s debatable if my cauliflower crust three cheese pizza can hold a candle to Theo’s preferred roasted garlic, which sounds divine, but it was sufficient in the moment.
Martin Gray is a young Black attorney with a boutique storefront law firm in Queens. After winning a high-profile civil rights case, Martin earns himself an invitation into a secret society made up of elite and affluent Black men from all sorts of industries: media, real estate, finance, and other lawyers.
The men invite Martin on what he believes would be a white-water rafting weekend trip, but in reality is a secret retreat in the middle of nowhere. Wives are barred from joining, as is the use of cell phones on the gorgeous estate known as Forty Acres.
The Vanishing Half is an intriguing novel about identical twin sisters, Stella and Desiree. The two are born and raised in the fictional town of Mallard, Louisiana, which was founded by their great-great-great grandfather after being freed by his master-father. The girls have creamy skin, hazel eyes, wavy hair and dreams of leaving their small hometown. They do so at the age of sixteen and run away to New Orleans. From there, their lives take on drastically different paths.
In Pretty Brown Eyes, a novella, Mescia meets Alex on her way home from celebrating her parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. All of Mescia’s sisters are either married or engaged. Not her. She’s still reeling from the end of her three-year relationship with ex-boyfriend Devon. Thank goodness she lets down her guard and receives the real treatment (and sex) she deserves and craves.
I loved the adorably awkward Norris Kaplan in Ben Philippe’s The Field Guide to the North American Teenager. The Haitian-Canadian teen is a fish out of water when he moves to Austin, Texas, with his mother. The poor boy is “The New Kid” in high school and is having trouble adjusting to the Texas heat and making friends. At least he’s found a hockey team for some semblance of home.
Charming As a Verb was such a cute little gem. This is the second YA novel written by Haitian writer Ben Philippe that I’ve read. As I said in my review for The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, “we’re not dealing with gang/street violence, teen pregnancy, [or] drugs. That’s not the only experience of Black teens.” Once again, Philippe writes about a high school teen boy on a quest to attain #BlackBoyJoy.
I don’t usually gravitate towards psychological thrillers. I’m unsure about the reason. I enjoy them, even if a majority of the time I figure out the plot before it’s revealed. Things unfolded slowly and kept me guessing. The only part that felt rushed to me is the obligatory explanation of the villain’s backstory. It seemed to come out of nowhere, but it explained a lot and allowed for the book to progress as it did.
The Worst Best Man was a fun read. The characters, including Lina’s family, were well developed with their own background stories that tied into how they supported Lina. There are no mixed feelings when it comes to Lina, Max, or Andrew. I like that Sosa sprinkled in plenty of Portuguese, Brazilian customs, and delicious-sounding dish descriptions that made me want to hop onto Seamless and search Brazilian restaurants that deliver to Bed-Stuy. I’ve only had a few Brazilian eating experiences, one being on the company dime at Fogo de Chao. My taste buds were not the least bit disappointed with the savory meats and side dishes. The same can be said for my experience listening to The Worst Best Man.