Sea of Tranquility made me an Emily St. John Mandel superfan. I had always meant to read Station Eleven, but never got around to it- now I'mreading that and anything else I can find! The world(s) Mandel creates here are vivid- somehow both unique and familiar at the same time. The narration is sharp and witty, while the story breaks your heart a little before it lovingly resolves.
Alicia Elliot is a Mohwak woman who split her childhood between upstate NY and a reservation in Canada, now living in Brantford, Ontario. How and why she moves between these places is the thread that ties the collection together. The essays she writes are deeply personal and radically anti-colonial; Elliot is as blunt about her struggles with mental health as she is succinct in illustrating how the historic treatment of Indigenous Peoples has created a world that is openly hostile to her and her loved ones.
Her writing style is vivid and affecting– the arguments are structured like concentric circles rather than being strictly linear– moving toward and then away from a core theme. I often find that essay collections about personal topics can struggle to stick their landing, but Elliot makes bold, creative choices in her final essay that still resonate in my brain.
Thin Places is a gorgeous Irish memoir from a woman- half Protestant, half Catholic- who grew up during the Troubles. Now, in adulthood, she looks at the effects of Brexit and tries to reconcile the trauma of this divided island by reclaiming the nature based values, religion and language of her Celtic ancestors.
Kerri ni Dochartaigh is deeply committed to seeking beauty in all kinds nature– from the sweeping vistas camping by the ocean to sighting moths in her backyard in the city. It is in this way she models a path of hope and healing for her readers
I immediately wanted to be best friends with our narrator, Kiki, voice of Brown Sugar, breaking down the dating scene of the African-Caribbean Society at her PWI (predominantly white institution) in England. Kiki, however, does not want to be my bestie- she has her girl Aminah and her studies, and she is all set with most other socializing. She does not want to be involved with any of the “wastemen” at her school whom she routinely drags on her radio show.
The electric chemistry between Kiki and Malakai leaps off the page! But they also learn how to be sweet and supportive of each other in ways neither expect. This is the perfect college romance with unforgettable characters!
Left in the care of their grandmother by their radical mother, Blanca, siblings Olga and Preito strive and struggle to make their way as adults in their native Brooklyn, their mother’s decision reverberating throughout their careers, friendships, and romantic relationships.
There is a sweet romance at the center of this story that grounds the narrative, as well as gossipy family drama – including a competitive cousin and a no-nonsense auntie. It is a fast moving tale, set in the before and after of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
I giggled, sighed, cheered, cried, and barked with (sometimes cynical) laughter as I took in this sweeping story of love and revolution