Jeanne Blasberg is a novelist, travel writer, and adventurer. She is a voracious reader and regularly reviews books on her blog, Goodreads, BookBub, LibraryThing, and Amazon.

Cyclorama by Adam Langer · NYJB Review

Cyclorama by Adam Langer

This review was originally posted on the New York Journal of Books.

Cyclorama is a stunning novel that weaves together past and present while reflecting on and questioning Anne Frank’s timeless assertion, “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

The novel’s opening pages are formatted in the style of a play bill, listing the cast of characters, ten in all, in the production of The Diary of Anne Frank. At first, the author’s choice of play as structural device seems curious. The action begins with Declan Spengler, a senior and accomplished actor at North Shore, a magnet high school, sharing that very concern, “[He tried] to conceal his irritation with the play Mr. Densmore had chosen. The Diary of Anne Frank would be Declan’s last show at North Shore, and it was a grim play. The story of doomed people whose refuge turned out to be their prison.”

However, the novel wastes no time in explaining itself. “For Declan Spengler, everything that wound up happening—to himself, to all of them, to the whole crazy country if you stopped to think about it—started the day he auditioned for the role of Peter Van Daan.” Indeed, Declan and his classmates would be cast in roles whose imprint they would carry into adulthood.

The ten “doomed people” to which Spengler refers turn out to be not only the characters in the play, but to the characters in Langer’s novel. Written from each character’s point of view, the chapters bring to fore the mindset of the theatre kids who made “The Annex” their home as well as theatre director, Ty Densmore, a creepy, controlling man who had a way of fitting the actors who came through his program snugly under his thumb.

The novel is divided in two parts: the weeks in the early 1980s as the cast rehearses and performs the play, and 30 years later in November 2016, the teens now middle aged and living in an era when the inappropriateness of Densmore’s behavior and their high school experiences is re-contextualized against a back-drop of Trump’s election. It is one of those books that sets the reader up early for the before and after, the schadenfreude that comes with a yearbook’s prediction of “most likely to succeed” being extremely off.

Act II begins in November 2016 with a chapter in the perspective of Miep Gies. Eileen Muldoon, a rare fan of Tyrus Densmore who takes it upon herself to organize a celebration of the man’s 50-plus years at North Shore. Her opening paragraph reveals a hardened heart as well as a spirit of resentment taking hold across the United States of America. “[Eileen] was voting for Trump. That’s how it all started, really; that’s how everything came rocketing back: she was voting for Trump. She wasn’t exactly sure why, she wasn’t political, she couldn’t even remember when she last voted, but just saying it to herself felt good, like she was finally going to take control of her life: “I’m voting for Trump.” It was one of those things you said in private, something that made you realize you had more power than people thought you did-like giving someone the finger when they couldn’t see you doing it; like cursing at another driver in traffic when your windows were up. It was like singing swear words during the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’; like pissing in a clogged hotel shower and knowing you wouldn’t be the illegal immigrant who’d have to clean it up. “Fuck you; I’m voting for Trump.”

Franklin Lichtenstein, once groomed by Densmore and now a reporter living nearby, writes a feature inspired by Eileen’s planned celebration; however, instead of lauding the teacher, he raises his alleged transgressions if only for clickbait in an effort to save his job. Once the article drops and is circulated among old friends, it is Calvin Dawes, that grad who was the most unlikely to succeed but against all odds became the biggest star, uses his platform to Tweet about the article and his experience at North Shore. He did it not for himself, but for fellow North Shore alum, Todd Merritt, as he was dying of cancer. Todd and Calvin were both survivors of Densmore’s advances and invitees on the teachers special “New York Trip.”

As Calvin reflects on that era in his life including Todd’s timely appearance and rescue on a booze-filled night in Manhattan, his cynicism is the stark antithesis of Anne Frank’s idealism, “Densmore had done Calvin the favor of making him believe the worst about anybody, even his childhood heroes.” Regardless, Calvin selflessly responds to Todd’s pleas to take action. He writes several posts on his Twitter feed, at the time naïve to the effect they would have: “Little things like this are what actually matter.” Todd agrees, “Because they have bigger implications. I don’t like intermediate endings, you know that-not in theatre, not in real life. I believe in people getting what they deserve. . . . Here’s the thing, I’m gonna be dead soon . . . And I want Tyrus remembered for who he really was. It’s like those Nazi war criminals getting tracked down sixty, seventy years later. You think it’s too late? Bullshit. You’re a Criminal in Act I, you get punished in Act II.”

Despite Eileen’s planned celebration, Densmore retires from North Shore in haste amid the media blitz. One of the ten, an adult Judith Nagorsky, is recruited to direct the 2016 North Shore revival of Anne Frank. She gets creative, using US immigration policy as a backdrop, the play staged as a referendum against hate and a challenge for the Van Daams of today to rise up in protection of others. A daughter of her classmate, Carrie Hollinger (who played Anne herself), is also cast in the starring role. Since graduation, Carrie has dedicated her life to the health care of marginalized people, regardless of their citizenship.

When, on opening night, Eileen, in a fit of resentment, makes a call to Homeland Security claiming Carrie’s clinic is full of illegals, a crisis ensues and the adults who had once been cast as Anne and Peter Van Damn are called to action. They end up shuttling a young woman to Canada and into the care of another former classmate, Fiona. Carrie and Franklin speculate their portrayal of Anne and Peter’s budding romance, “I always think of what would have happened if they got out. I think of them finding an apartment together, finishing school, coming to America, starting a family, becoming grandparents.”

“I don’t know,” Franklin replies. “The point is, none of it happened. There’s no happily ever after when you look close enough at any story. There’s happy for a moment, but only if you freeze it in time. It all keeps moving. Anne and Peter, their tragedy wasn’t that they didn’t get to be together; it’s that they didn’t get the chance to choose to be apart. They didn’t get to fall out of love, to follow their dreams and see them shattered; didn’t get the chance to marry the wrong people, realize they’d made a mistake, then try to fix it while they were still young enough to do something about it, to get back together even when they thought it might be too late.”

Langer has a wonderful talent for not only recontextualizing The Diary of Anne Frank in two different eras in American history, but for allowing the inverse of optimism and idealism to rise to the surface. Whereas Anne was predisposed to seeing the positive and the good in people, Langer’s characters believe they have seen the worst and respond accordingly. They may be “really good at heart,” but so much has occurred to mask the goodness. Either selfishly or selflessly, the ten are examples of people doing their best to fend off all the negative—as if that’s the best they can hope for.

 

Read more of Jeannie’s Reviews on her blog, on Goodreads, or on the New York Journal of Books. For more TBR inspiration, check out Jeannie’s curated book lists at Bookshop.org

 

Finding Freedom by Erin French

Finding Freedom: A Cook’s Story; Remaking a Life from Scratch by Erin French

finding-freedom-erin-french-book-coverI listened to this audio book narrated by the author, Erin French, which was a treat in and of itself. Finding Freedom is a beautiful memoir with highs and lows and with a banquet of tastes and flavors woven through. Raised on good food and a passion for feeding people, French elevates the role nurturers play in this world. She was told there was nothing to aspire to in her small hometown but she would put Freedom, Maine on the map with the Lost Kitchen restaurant. Inspiring.

 

About Finding Freedom :

Long before The Lost Kitchen became a world dining destination with every seating filled the day the reservation book opens each spring, Erin French was a girl roaming barefoot on a 25-acre farm, a teenager falling in love with food while working the line at her dad’s diner and a young woman finding her calling as a professional chef at her tiny restaurant tucked into a 19th century mill. This singular memoir—a classic American story—invites readers to Erin’s corner of her beloved Maine to share the real person behind the “girl from Freedom” fairytale, and the not-so-picture-perfect struggles that have taken every ounce of her strength to overcome, and that make Erin’s life triumphant.

In Finding Freedom, Erin opens up to the challenges, stumbles, and victories that have led her to the exact place she was ever meant to be, telling stories of multiple rock-bottoms, of darkness and anxiety, of survival as a jobless single mother, of pills that promised release but delivered addiction, of a man who seemed to offer salvation but in the end ripped away her very sense of self. And of the beautiful son who was her guiding light as she slowly rebuilt her personal and culinary life around the solace she found in food—as a source of comfort, a sense of place, as a way of bringing goodness into the world. Erin’s experiences with deep loss and abiding hope, told with both honesty and humor, will resonate with women everywhere who are determined to find their voices, create community, grow stronger and discover their best-selves despite seemingly impossible odds. Set against the backdrop of rural Maine and its lushly intense, bountiful seasons, Erin reveals the passion and courage needed to invent oneself anew, and the poignant, timeless connections between food and generosity, renewal and freedom.

 

Read more of Jeannie’s Reviews on her blog, on Goodreads or StoryGraph, or on the New York Journal of Books. For more TBR inspiration, check out Jeannie’s curated book lists at Bookshop.org

 

Disclosure: If you purchase a book through one of these links, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you, which I will donate to literary organizations in Boston and across the country. Thanks!

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Thank You, Mr. Nixon by Gish Jen

Thank You, Mr. Nixon by Gish Jen

thank-you-mr-nixon-gish-jen-book-review-jeanne-blasbergReally enjoyed this collection of interconnected stories which span 50 years of Chinese / American relations. Characters show up in multiple stories at different stages in life. The writing is humorous, biting and concise and the stories raise interesting issues around identity and migration, the push and pull inherent in the relationship of super-powers but all at the human level. It was an enjoyable, easy read, but one I am very much discussing with others. Gish Jen does a masterful job of distilling political issues to what is inherently human.

 

About Thank You, Mr. Nixon

Beginning with a cheery, kindly letter penned by a Chinese girl in heaven to “poor Mr. Nixon” in hell, Gish Jen embarks on an eleven-story journey through U.S.-Chinese relations, capturing not only the excitement of a world on the brink of tectonic change, but the all-too-human encounters that ensue as East meets West.

Opal Chen reunites with her sisters in China after a hiatus of almost forty years; American Arnie Hsu clashes with his Chinese girlfriend Lulu Koo, who wonders why Americans “like to walk around in the woods with the mosquitoes”; Tina and Johnson Koo take wholly surprising measures to reestablish contact when their “number one daughter,” Bobby, stops answering her phone in New York; and Betty Koo, brought up on “no politics, just make money,” finds she must square her mother’s philosophy with the repression in Hong Kong.

With their profound compassion, equally profound humor, and unexpected connections, these masterful stories reflect history’s shifting shadow over our boldest decisions and most intimate moments. Gradually accruing the power of a novel as it proceeds, Thank You, Mr. Nixon furnishes yet more proof of Gish Jen’s enduring place among the most eminent of American storytellers.

 

Read more of Jeannie’s Reviews on her blog, on Goodreads or StoryGraph, or on the New York Journal of Books. For more TBR inspiration, check out Jeannie’s curated book lists at Bookshop.org

 

Disclosure: If you purchase a book through one of these links, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you, which I will donate to literary organizations in Boston and across the country. Thanks!

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Vladimir by Julia May Jonas

Vladimir by Julia May Jonas

vladimir-julia-may-jonas-book-review-jeanne-blasbergI enjoyed the protagonist’s perspective so much. In Vladimir, a fifty-eight year old female English professor married to the former head of the department in a small college in upstate New York. Her husband has been relieved of his duties after 8 former students write letters accusing him of sexual impropriety. She and her husband have an open marriage seemingly born from her bad body image. Despite her own affairs and permitting her husband’s relations with other women, we catch the unnamed protagonist at a moment when she is coming unhinged, ultimately hatching a plan to kidnap and seduce an attractive new professor. Jonas writes with excellent nuance about all the modern day attitudes around sex and power dynamics. The first two thirds of the book were excellent, if I have any criticism it is the pacing of the last third. I would have preferred a slow but deep conclusion. I have been thinking about this novel for days now and this couple in particular, the detritus they left in their wake, while leading externally admirable lives. Also the cover is not a good portrayal of the literary gem inside – I almost passed because of the cover!!

 

About Vladimir:

A provocative, razor-sharp, and timely debut novel about a beloved English professor facing a slew of accusations against her professor husband by former students—a situation that becomes more complicated when she herself develops an obsession of her own…

“When I was a child, I loved old men, and I could tell that they also loved me.”

And so we are introduced to our deliciously incisive narrator: a popular English professor whose charismatic husband at the same small liberal arts college is under investigation for his inappropriate relationships with his former students. The couple have long had a mutual understanding when it comes to their extra-marital pursuits, but with these new allegations, life has become far less comfortable for them both. And when our narrator becomes increasingly infatuated with Vladimir, a celebrated, married young novelist who’s just arrived on campus, their tinder box world comes dangerously close to exploding.

With this bold, edgy, and uncommonly assured debut, author Julia May Jonas takes us into charged territory, where the boundaries of morality bump up against the impulses of the human heart. Propulsive, darkly funny, and wildly entertaining, Vladimir perfectly captures the personal and political minefield of our current moment, exposing the nuances and the grey area between power and desire. 

 

Read more of Jeannie’s Reviews on her blog, on Goodreads or StoryGraph, or on the New York Journal of Books. For more TBR inspiration, check out Jeannie’s curated book lists at Bookshop.org

 

Disclosure: If you purchase a book through one of these links, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you, which I will donate to literary organizations in Boston and across the country. Thanks!

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I Came All This Way to Meet You by Jami Attenberg

I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home by Jami Attenberg

i-came-all-this-way-to-weet-you-jami-attenberg-book-review-jeanne-blasbergThis an especially good read for a writer. It is an inspiring story of perseverance from an author I admire. The opportunity to glimpse into her life and professional ups and downs was a treat. I have participated in Jami’s #1000wordsofsummer so it was no surprise to learn that her writing life is one where she doesn’t make excuses, she just writes. It is a testament that one doesn’t have to have a huge trauma or dramatic event in their life in order to warrant a memoir. This compilation of essays is beautiful with Jami transforming from one who led a nomadic life, crashing on people’s couches and in their guest rooms, to a home owning woman in New Orleans who is able to host friends overnight and feed them. One measure of success.

 

 

About I Came All This Way to Meet You:

From New York Times bestselling author Jami Attenberg comes a dazzling memoir about unlocking and embracing her creativity—and how it saved her life.

In this brilliant, fierce, and funny memoir of transformation, Jami Attenberg—described as a “master of modern fiction” (Entertainment Weekly) and the “poet laureate of difficult families” (Kirkus Reviews)—reveals the defining moments that pushed her to create a life, and voice, she could claim for herself. What does it take to devote oneself to art? What does it mean to own one’s ideas? What does the world look like for a woman moving solo through it?

As the daughter of a traveling salesman in the Midwest, Attenberg was drawn to a life on the road. Frustrated by quotidian jobs and hungry for inspiration and fresh experiences, her wanderlust led her across the country and eventually on travels around the globe. Through it all she grapples with questions of mortality, otherworldliness, and what we leave behind.

It is during these adventures that she begins to reflect on the experiences of her youth—the trauma, the challenges, the risks she has taken. Driving across America on self-funded book tours, sometimes crashing on couches when she was broke, she keeps writing: in researching articles for magazines, jotting down ideas for novels, and refining her craft, she grows as an artist and increasingly learns to trust her gut and, ultimately, herself.

Exploring themes of friendship, independence, class, and drive, I Came All This Way to Meet You is an inspiring story of finding one’s way home—emotionally, artistically, and physically—and an examination of art and individuality that will resonate with anyone determined to listen to their own creative calling.

 

Read more of Jeannie’s Reviews on her blog, on Goodreads or StoryGraph, or on the New York Journal of Books. For more TBR inspiration, check out Jeannie’s curated book lists at Bookshop.org

 

Disclosure: If you purchase a book through one of these links, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you, which I will donate to literary organizations in Boston and across the country. Thanks!

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Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

crossroads-jonathan-franzen-book-review-jeanne-blasbergCrossroads, the first book in the Key to All Mythologies trilogy, is everything I love about Franzen – a big, American, family story. The author commands the luxury of time going deep into the psyches of each member of the Hildebrandt family, all terribly flawed, all trying to do good. The novel tackles themes of morality, religion, and GOD, to name a few of the big topics, while obviously including all we come to expect from domestic drama—misunderstanding, unrequited love, disappointment. The setting is 1971, small town Illinois with the Viet Nam war raging as a back-drop. The themes are set up to continue on in the trilogy, presumably propelling us toward the current day in the future installments of the trilogy. I listened to 25 hours of this audiobook eagerly, the narration offering so much to my enjoyment of it.

 

About Crossroads: 

A tour de force of interwoven perspectives and sustained suspense, its action largely unfolding on a single winter day, Crossroads is the story of a Midwestern family at a pivotal moment of moral crisis. Russ Hildebrandt, the associate pastor of a liberal suburban church, is on the brink of breaking free of a marriage he finds joyless–unless his wife, Marion, who has her own secret life, beats him to it. Their eldest child, Clem, is coming home from college on fire with moral absolutism, having taken an action that will shatter his father. Clem’s sister, Becky, long the social queen of her high-school class, has sharply veered into the counterculture, while their brilliant younger brother Perry, who’s been selling drugs to seventh graders, has resolved to be a better person. Each of the Hildebrandts seeks a freedom that each of the others threatens to complicate.

Jonathan Franzen’s novels are celebrated for their unforgettably vivid characters and for their keen-eyed take on contemporary America. Now, in Crossroads, Franzen ventures back into the past and explores the history of two generations. With characteristic humor and complexity, and with even greater warmth, he conjures a world that resonates powerfully with our own.

 

Read more of Jeannie’s Reviews on her blog, on Goodreads or StoryGraph, or on the New York Journal of Books. For more TBR inspiration, check out Jeannie’s curated book lists at Bookshop.org

 

Disclosure: If you purchase a book through one of these links, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you, which I will donate to literary organizations in Boston. Thanks!

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Weather by Jenny Offill

weather-jenny-offill-book-review-jeanne-blasbergWeather by Jenny Offill
This was a fast read both in length but also because of the writing style. Narrated in the first person, Weather by Jenny Offill is a beautiful portrayal of the modern mind at work, flitting to and from between the personal, professional, familial, and then of course the global situation around climate change. The book is written in shortish snippets of the narrator’s thoughts as she balances life as a wife, mother, and sister. She is under financial pressure, not in a fulfilling job, with a brother who is struggling. On top of all this, she takes on the job of responding to emails received by a popular climate scientist. It is the burden of these emails and the questions they pose that become too much for both our narrator and the climate scientist. The book is a reminder of how with science as well as domestic issues, it is easier for humans to live in a state of denial.

 

About Weather:

Lizzie Benson slid into her job as a librarian without a traditional degree. But this gives her a vantage point from which to practice her other calling: she is a fake shrink. For years, she has tended to her God-haunted mother and her recovering addict brother. They have both stabilized for the moment, but Lizzie has little chance to spend her new free time with husband and son before her old mentor, Sylvia Liller, makes a proposal. She’s become famous for her prescient podcast, Hell and High Water, and wants to hire Lizzie to answer the mail she receives: from left-wingers worried about climate change and right wingers worried about the decline of western civilization.

As Lizzie dives into this polarized world, she begins to wonder what it means to keep tending your own garden once you’ve seen the flames beyond its walls. When her brother becomes a father and Sylvia a recluse, Lizzie is forced to address the limits of her own experience—but still she tries to save everyone, using everything she’s learned about empathy and despair, conscience and collusion, from her years of wandering the library stacks… And all the while the voices of the city keep floating in—funny, disturbing, and increasingly mad.

 

Read more of Jeannie’s Reviews on her blog, on Goodreads, or on the New York Journal of Books. For more TBR inspiration, check out Jeannie’s curated book lists at Bookshop.org

 

Disclosure: If you purchase a book through one of these links, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you, which I will donate to literary organizations in Boston. Thanks!

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Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King

Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King

five-tuesdays-in-winter-lily-king-book-review-jeanne-blasbergSuch a great story collection. The range of characters and situations was striking and highlights King’s gift of insight and observance. It seams like many novelists are publishing story collections recently and so I actually wasn’t anticipating this collection to be as great as it was. My favorite being a story about a young man coached along in love and life by two college students hired to housesit and look after him sort of as an afterthought by his parents. Brava, I am an even bigger fan of King’s now.

 

About Five Tuesdays in Winter:

Lily King, one of the most “brilliant” (New York Times Book Review), “wildly talented” (Chicago Tribune), and treasured authors of contemporary fiction, returns after her recent bestselling novels with Five Tuesdays in Winter, her first book of short fiction.

Told in the intimate voices of complex, endearing characters, Five Tuesdays in Winter intriguingly subverts expectations as it explores desire, loss, jolting violence, and the inexorable tug toward love at all costs. A reclusive bookseller begins to feel the discomfort of love again. Two college roommates have a devastating middle-aged reunion. A proud old man rages powerlessly in his granddaughter’s hospital room. A writer receives a visit from all the men who have tried to suppress her voice.

Romantic, hopeful, brutally raw, and unsparingly honest, this wide-ranging collection of ten selected stories by one of our most accomplished chroniclers of the human heart is an exciting addition to Lily King’s oeuvre of acclaimed fiction.

 

Read more of Jeannie’s Reviews on her blog, on Goodreads, or on the New York Journal of Books. For more TBR inspiration, check out Jeannie’s curated book lists at Bookshop.org

 

Disclosure: If you purchase a book through one of these links, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you, which I will donate to literary organizations in Boston. Thanks!

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The Dangers of an Ordinary Night by Lynne Reeves

The Dangers of an Ordinary Night by Lynne Reeves

dangers-of-an-ordinary-night-lynne-reeves-book-review-jeanne-blasbergBrava to Lynne Reeves for a who-done-it that delivered on so many fronts. Not only was I constantly second-guessing myself on the identity of the true culprit, I was ensconced in Boston’s Back Bay, the world of the theatre, and high-stakes parenting—a subject on which I obsess a lot! This book is the perfect length for a train ride or airplane flight. Time will disappear as you get sucked into the complex lives of its characters. They were really well developed and have continued to stay with me long after reading the (quite satisfying) ending.

 

About The Dangers of an Ordinary Night:

On a chilly fall evening at the prestigious Performing Arts High School of Boston, best friends Tali Carrington and June Danforth go missing after auditioning for a play. They’re last seen in grainy, out-of-focus surveillance footage that shows them walking side-by-side. Two days later in a town south of Boston, Tali is found disoriented and traumatized by the ocean’s edge, while June is pronounced dead at the scene.

Tali’s mother, Nell, is so bent on protecting her daughter from further emotional harm that she enlists the help of Cynthia Rawlins, a renowned therapist for families. Meanwhile, Detective Fitz Jameson is assigned to the investigation and dives into the lives of high-performing students who may be harboring dark secrets.

As Nell, Cynthia, and Fitz confront their own contributions to the tragedies and scandals that beleaguer them, their lives turn out to be more deeply intertwined than they’d ever imagined. And they must decide what lengths they’re willing to go to protect the people they love while also saving themselves.

 

Read more of Jeannie’s Reviews on her blog, on Goodreads, or on the New York Journal of Books. For more TBR inspiration, check out Jeannie’s curated book lists at Bookshop.org

 

Disclosure: If you purchase a book through one of these links, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you, which I will donate to literary organizations in Boston. Thanks!

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Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo

Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo

sankofa-chibundu-onuzo-book-review-jeanne-blasbergI listened to this title and believe the narration added to my enjoyment. Sankofa takes you in to the world of Anna Bain at the moment she discovers her father’s diaries. The thing is, she has never met her father nor had her mother ever told her much about him. The pages she reads in his hand are of a young man from West Africa, a student in London, who experiences racial injustices and inequities while abroad. They paint a romantic picture of her white mother falling in love with her father, a man who returns to Africa, claiming he would return one day. When Anna Bain eventually decides to travel to her father’s homeland to seek him out for herself, he is a much different person. He was the ruler of the country for many decades, ushering the country into independence and in so doing gaining a reputation as harsh and dictatorial. This novel paints many pictures of the man, the most important being the one Anna reconciles in her own mind. It is equally revelatory that discovering who her father is helps profoundly in determining how she will move forward with her own life.

 

About Sankofa:

Anna is at a stage of her life when she’s beginning to wonder who she really is. She has separated from her husband, her daughter is all grown up, and her mother—the only parent who raised her—is dead.

Searching through her mother’s belongings one day, Anna finds clues about the African father she never knew. His student diaries chronicle his involvement in radical politics in 1970s London. Anna discovers that he eventually became the president—some would say dictator—of a small nation in West Africa. And he is still alive…

When Anna decides to track her father down, a journey begins that is disarmingly moving, funny, and fascinating. Like the metaphorical bird that gives the novel its name, Sankofa expresses the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present to address universal questions of race and belonging, the overseas experience for the African diaspora, and the search for a family’s hidden roots.

 

Read more of Jeannie’s Reviews on her blog, on Goodreads, or on the New York Journal of Books. For more TBR inspiration, check out Jeannie’s curated book lists at Bookshop.org

 

Disclosure: If you purchase a book through one of these links, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you, which I will donate to literary organizations in Boston. Thanks!