Friday, September 25, 2015

New Books Coming Your Way, October 2015

My Life on a Plate: Recipes From Around the World by Kelis
Publication date: Oct. 5, 2015
176 p.

My Life on a Plate tells Kelis’ personal story through the food she creates. Her style has been molded by her culture, her travels, and all the people she met along the way. This book is a collection of her favorite recipes. It features a mix of foods from her Puerto Rican heritage, such as Pork Pernil and Arroz con Gandules, along with dishes she created after discovering them on her travels around the world.

Kelis’ love affair with food started as a child. A native New Yorker, her mother worked as a chef in her own catering business, run out of their home in Harlem. Driven by the speed and the intensity in the kitchen, Kelis’ passion behind watching her mother cook inspired her to roll up her sleeves, willing to do whatever anyone asked of her. Every detail was clear and defined: Red lips, red nails, perfume, earrings and a military demeanor; Kelis felt in the presence of a master while watching her mother work. At age 17, Kelis signed her first recording contract and began to travel the world. She discovered local outdoor markets and tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurants and considered them the hidden treasures of her journeys.

After 10 years in the music business, Kelis decided to attend Le Cordon Bleu. Attending the famous cooking school gave Kelis the confidence to call herself a chef and to write her first cookbook. My Life on a Plate tells Kelis’ personal story through the food she creates. Her style has been molded by her culture, her travels, and all the people she met along the way. This book is a collection of her favorite recipes. It features a mix of foods from her Puerto Rican heritage, such as Pernil (Puerto Rican Pork Shoulder), Arroz con Gandules, and Shrimp Alcapurias along with dishes she created after discovering them on her travels around the world such as Malay Curry Chicken and Swedish Meatballs.

A House of My Own: Stories from My Life by Sandra Cisneros
Publication date: Oct. 6, 2015
400 p.

From the Chicago neighborhoods where she grew up and set her groundbreaking The House on Mango Street to her abode in Mexico in a region where “my ancestors lived for centuries,” the places Sandra Cisneros has lived have provided inspiration for her now-classic works of fiction and poetry. But a house of her own, where she could truly take root, has eluded her. With this collection—spanning three decades, and including never-before-published work—Cisneros has come home at last.

Ranging from the private (her parents’ loving and tempestuous marriage) to the political (a rallying cry for one woman’s liberty in Sarajevo) to the literary (a tribute to Marguerite Duras), and written with her trademark lyricism, these signature pieces recall transformative memories as well as reveal her defining artistic and intellectual influences. Poignant, honest, deeply moving, this is an exuberant celebration of a life in writing lived to the fullest.

Prince of Darkness: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street’s First Black Millionaire by Shane White
Publication date: Oct. 13, 2015
368 p.

In the middle decades of the nineteenth century Jeremiah G. Hamilton was a well-known figure on Wall Street. Cornelius Vanderbilt, America's first tycoon, came to respect, grudgingly, his one-time opponent. The day after Vanderbilt's death on January 4, 1877, an almost full-page obituary on the front of the National Republican acknowledged that, in the context of his Wall Street share transactions, "There was only one man who ever fought the Commodore to the end, and that was Jeremiah Hamilton."

What Vanderbilt's obituary failed to mention, perhaps as contemporaries already knew it well, was that Hamilton was African American. Hamilton, although his origins were lowly, possibly slave, was reportedly the richest black man in the United States, possessing a fortune of $2 million, or in excess of two hundred and $50 million in today's currency.

In this groundbreaking and vivid account, eminent historian Shane White reveals the larger than life story of a man who defied every convention of his time. He wheeled and dealed in the lily white business world, he married a white woman, he bought a mansion in rural New Jersey, he owned railroad stock on trains he was not legally allowed to ride, and generally set his white contemporaries teeth on edge when he wasn't just plain outsmarting them. An important contribution to American history, the Hamilton's life offers a way into considering, from the unusual perspective of a black man.

Finding Amos by J.D. Mason, ReShonda Tate Billingsley & Bernice L. McFadden
Publication date: Oct. 13, 2015
288 p.

After a lifetime of womanizing, making babies, and then disappearing and taking no responsibility for his actions, Amos Davis has finally reached an impasse—literally crashing his car down a one-way street. It may be the only road to redemption for the aging musician, now afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, for it has brought together the three daughters he abandoned. But when it comes to their deadbeat dad, their hearts may already be sealed…

Cass, the child of Amos’s mistress, has had enough heartache, from losing her mother to the tragic end of her marriage. Amos was never there for her—why should this talented cake maker be sweet to him now?

Toya, always the “other woman” in her affairs with married men, was deeply scarred by Amos’s public denial of her existence years ago. Will seeing him again send her further down a troubled path?

A gifted writer, Tomiko channels her pain into her stories of the father she never knew. In her imagined world, she is safe—but will she ever risk her heart on real love?

A powerful interplay of memory and reality, this emotionally taut novel weaves the voices of three authors to deliver an unforgettable tale of one man’s struggle to make peace with his failures, his family and the destinies of those who must forgive to move forward with their own lives and dreams.

Grant Park by Leonard Pitts, Jr.
Publication date: Oct. 13, 2015
400 p.

Grant Park begins in 1968, with Martin Luther King's final days in Memphis. The story then moves to the eve of the 2008 election, and cuts between the two eras. Disillusioned columnist Malcolm Toussaint, fueled by yet another report of unarmed black men killed by police, hacks into his newspaper's server to post an incendiary column that had been rejected by his editors. Toussaint then disappears, and his longtime editor, Bob Carson, is summarily fired within hours of the column's publication.

While a furious Carson tries to find Toussaint—while simultaneously dealing with the reappearance of a lost love from his days as a 60s activist—Toussaint is abducted by two white supremacists plotting to explode a bomb at Barack Obama's planned rally in Chicago’s Grant Park. Toussaint and Carson are forced to remember the choices they made as young men, when both their lives were changed profoundly by their work in the civil rights movement.

Memories of Madagascar and Slavery in the Black Atlantic by Wendy Wilson-Fall
Publication date: Oct. 15 2015
234 p.

From the seventeenth century into the nineteenth, thousands of Madagascar’s people were brought to American ports as slaves. In Memories of Madagascar and Slavery in the Black Atlantic, Wendy Wilson-Fall shows that the descendants of these Malagasy slaves in the United States maintained an ethnic identity in ways that those from the areas more commonly feeding the Atlantic slave trade did not. Generations later, hundreds, if not thousands, of African Americans maintain strong identities as Malagasy descendants, yet the histories of Malagasy slaves, sailors, and their descendants have been little explored.

Wilson-Fall examines how and why the stories that underlie this identity have been handed down through families?—?and what this says about broader issues of ethnicity and meaning-making for those whose family origins, if documented at all, have been willfully obscured by history.

By analyzing contemporary oral histories as well as historical records and examining the conflicts between the two, Wilson-Fall carefully probes the tensions between the official and the personal, the written and the lived. She suggests that historically, the black community has been a melting pot to which generations of immigrants—enslaved and free—have been socially assigned, often in spite of their wish to retain far more complex identities. Innovative in its methodology and poetic in its articulation, this book bridges history and ethnography to take studies of diaspora, ethnicity, and identity into new territory.

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (#16) by Alexander McCall Smith
Publication date: Oct. 27, 2015
224 p.

Business is slow at the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, so slow in fact that for the first time in her estimable career Precious Ramotswe has reluctantly agreed to take a holiday. The promise of a week of uninterrupted peace is short-lived, however, when she meets a young boy named Samuel, a troublemaker who is himself in some trouble. Once she learns more about Samuel’s sad story, Mma Ramotswe feels compelled to step in and help him find his way out of a bad situation.

Despite this unexpected diversion, Mma Ramotswe still finds herself concerned about how the agency is faring in her absence. Her worries grow when she hears that Mma Makutsi is handling a new and rather complicated case. A well-respected Botswanan politician is up for a major public honor, and his reputation is now being called into question by his rivals. The man’s daughter has contacted the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency to investigate these troubling claims, but, as in so many cases, all is not as it seems. In the end, the investigation will affect everyone at the agency and will also serve as a reminder that ordinary human failings should be treated with a large helping of charity and compassion.

Becoming Beyoncé: The Untold Story by J. Randy Taraborrelli
Publication date: Oct. 27, 2015
512 p.

Beyoncé Knowles is a woman who began her career at the age of eight performing in pageant shows and talent contests, honing her craft through her teenage years until, at the age of 16, she had her first number one record with Destiny's Child. That hit-making trio launched Beyoncé's successful solo career, catapulting her, as of 2014, to #1 on Forbes annual list of most wealthy celebrities--the same year she made the cover of Time. Becoming Beyoncé  is not only the story of struggle, sacrifice, and what it takes to make it in the cut-throat record industry, it's the story of the great rewards of such success and the devastating toll it often takes on the human spirit.

Raising the Race: Black Career Women Redefine Marriage, Motherhood, and Community by Riché J. Daniel Barnes
Publication date: Oct. 30, 2015
272 p.

Raising the Race is the first study to examine how black, married career women juggle their relationships with their extended and nuclear families, the expectations of the black community, and their desires to raise healthy, independent children. Including extensive interviews from women whose voices have been underrepresented in debates about work-family balance, Riché J. Daniel Barnes draws upon their diverse perspectives to propose policy initiatives that would improve the work and family lives of all Americans.

Popular discussions of professional women often dwell on the conflicts faced by the woman who attempts to “have it all,” raising children while climbing up the corporate ladder. Yet for all the articles and books written on this subject, there has been little work that focuses on the experience of African American professional women or asks how their perspectives on work-family balance might be unique.

Giving a voice to women whose perspectives have been underrepresented in debates about work-family balance, Barnes’s profiles enable us to perceive these women as fully fledged individuals, each with her own concerns and priorities. Yet Barnes is also able to locate many common themes from these black women’s experiences, and uses them to propose policy initiatives that would improve the work and family lives of all Americans.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

#BookReview: ONLY THE STRONG by Jabari Asim

Set in the early 1970s in the fictional Gateway City he created in A Taste of Honey, Only the Strong reads like Jabari Asim’s love letter to his hometown of St. Louis. Gateway City is changing. The decay of the north side of town has already begun. Mill Creek Valley had been demolished and the promises of new housing and business developments in that area have been broken. The revolutionaries that once fought for civil rights have moved within the establishment and are now politicians. The segregated businesses of previous years have gone by the wayside and there’s even a black woman working at the lingerie counter at the local department store.

Only the Strong is centered around Guts Tolliver, former enforcer for local kingpin, Ananias Goode. Following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Guts finds that he no longer has the heart for breaking legs and killing his fellow man at the bequest of his boss. With Goode’s blessing, Guts instead spends his time running a taxi service and thinking about Pearl Jordan and banana pudding. Still, he keeps his ear to the ground, always aware of what’s going on around him, and always on the lookout for things or people that might bring harm to Goode.

Tolliver’s days start with feeding the ducks at Fairgrounds Park and catching up with the locals, like the two women that tend a memorial garden daily, and observing the quiet fisherwoman that never seems to move from her spot. Guts has just been hired to babysit Rip Crenshaw, a star player for the local baseball team, which would be easier if Rip wasn’t such a wild card. A missing ring causes more trouble than Guts is sure Rip is worth, but he promises him that it will turn up eventually and he’s a man of his word.

Guts’ interactions are often entertaining but never more so than when he’s visited by Playfair, a local booster. Playfair is a lighthearted hustle man who peddles his wares out of his car. He immediately brings to mind a charismatic Huggy Bear-like character. In addition to Playfair, there’s the cast of characters that always seems to hang around local businesses: the three gentlemen that hold court in front daily, including a man that works across the street but always seems to be at the cab stand; Nifty, a petty thief whose life Guts once spared and now uses an informant; and others in the neighborhood that stop by to chew the fat.

Dr. Artinces Noel is a model citizen. Once a quiet girl from Honey Springs, Kentucky, she’s now a respected pediatrician in Gateway City. During her tenure in the city, she’s worked her way up to the head of pediatrics at Abram Higgins Hospital. While no one bats an eye at the doctor taking in Charlotte Divine, a sullen teenage, the city would be scandalized to learn of who’s company the good doctor is keeping behind closed doors.

Most of the main characters are struggling with insecurities. As strong as he is physically, Guts can’t seem to find the wherewithal to meet the demands Pearl has placed on him. Charlotte’s abandonment as a baby has left her doubting whether or not anyone can truly care for her and she protects herself by rejecting people before they can reject her. Even Rip has problems believing that people like him and not his money or fame. Their insecurities don’t serve to make them weak characters; they’re more humanized because of them.

I could go into comparisons between Guts and other male protagonists like Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins or Brawley Brown or Attica Locke’s Jay Porter, but I won’t. Guts is a great character in his own right and there are really no comparisons to be made. As I read about him cruising down Natural Bridge or Delmar, crossing over Vandeventer or venturing across the bridge, while listening to the Man in the Red Vest, I couldn’t stop thinking about his next adventure in the Gateway City streets. Asim has created all of these great characters that have stories to tell and stories I want to hear.  Yes, I have a deep affection for stories set in St. Louis, but I would venture to say that Only the Strong is one of those books that resonates with you regardless of whether or not you have a connection to the area.

288 p.
Published: May 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015


Earlier this year I published a post about the need for diverse books for adults as well as kids. Dewey's 24-hour readathon is coming up in October and even if you're not planning to participate, wouldn't it be great if we could share books we love with each other to help others build their reading lists?

How do I do that, you ask. It's simple.
  1. I've created a Google spreadsheet listing all of my five and four star reads broken down by genre and the race and/or nationality of the main character(s). Enter your recommendations here; or
  2. Enter your recommendations in the form below; or 
  3. Tweet about them using the hash tag #ReadInColour
Once a week, I'll go through the submissions and hash tag and add those recommendations to the spreadsheet. By the time October 17th rolls around, you should have plenty of books from a lot of great authors to choose from.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

#BookReview: THE BLUE BETWEEN SKY AND WATER by Susan Abulhawa

Grounded in reality and a bit of mysticism, The Blue Between Sky and Water is the story of four generations of women in Gaza and America, connected by family ties. The story opens with the voice of Khaled. At first he appears to be as a friend to the young Mariam. Meeting her at the river each day, Khaled teaches Mariam to read and write when she isn’t allowed to attend school. For years the family believes that Khaled is a figment of her imagination, but eventually it’s revealed that he actually exists.

Khaled tells the story of the women of his family, beginning with his great grandmother, Um Mamdouh. Known by most in their village as a crazy woman, she is by no means crazy. As children of Um Mamdouh, Nazmiyeh, Mariam and Mamdouh are keepers of the family secret – Um Mamdouh is visited frequently by Sulaymen. If I understand it correctly, Sulaymen is an angelic presence. When it’s revealed that Um Mamdouh is not crazy, but is instead favored by Sulaymen, the family’s status is elevated.

Restricted by opportunities to earn a living in Palestine, Mamdouh leaves the country. Through Khaled, we’re allowed to see the path Mamdouh takes, eventually settling in the U.S. Khaled is also the reason Nur comes to Palestine, an ancestral home she's never visited before. As Mamdouh’s granddaughter, Nur follows a different path than the family of women back in Palestine and it re-emphasizes the importance of not only family, but knowing your culture. She’s disconnected in a way that the others are not and it affects every aspect of her life without her realizing it. As Nur gets to know Rhet Shel, granddaughter of Nazmiyeh, she understands how family and culture play a role in the person that you become. It gives Rhet Shel a grounding and foundation that Nur didn’t have as a child.

My favorite character in the book is Nazmiyeh. Sister to Mariam and Mamdouh, she’s confident and assertive in a time and place when women are expected to be quiet and submissive. Her brash ways and suggestive language make the other women around her blush, yet delight to be in her presence. Even as her family is pushed back by the displacement Israel forces upon them, even when her son is imprisoned for speaking out against injustice, she remains passionate about her family and her people. In a place where mothers are addressed by a title that references their child(ren), Nazmiyeh is always addressed by her name. This is not a sign of disrespect. On the contrary, it’s to show that though she is the mother to many and wife to one, she is still her own person and is respected as such.

I can’t recommend this book enough. Without going into detail about the conflict between Israel and Palestine, I’ll just say that it’s refreshing to hear the stories of women and families living in Gaza. Their perspective is one that’s not heard often enough.

304 p.
Published: September 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

#BookReview: DELTA JEWELS: In Search of My Grandmother's Wisdom by Alysia Burton Steele

Synopsis: Inspired by memories of her beloved grandmother, photographer and author Alysia Burton Steele--picture editor on a Pulitzer Prize-winning team--combines heart-wrenching narrative with poignant photographs of more than 50 female church elders in the Mississippi Delta.

These ordinary women lived extraordinary lives under the harshest conditions of the Jim Crow era and during the courageous changes of the Civil Rights Movement. With the help of local pastors, Steele recorded these living witnesses to history and folk ways, and shares the significance of being a Black woman--child, daughter, sister, wife, mother, and grandmother in Mississippi--a Jewel of the Delta. From the stand Mrs. Tennie Self took for her marriage to be acknowledged in the phone book, to the life-threatening sacrifice required to vote for the first time, these 50 inspiring portraits are the faces of love and triumph that will teach readers faith and courage in difficult times.

Review: I first heard of Delta Jewels through social media.  I think there was an article retweeted or the author's tweets were retweeted into my timeline.  At the time, the author was seeking a publisher and there was no certainty that the book would even be published.  Regardless, I was excited about the book and made a note to myself to be on the lookout for it.  Eventually, the book found a home and I squealed when it showed up in the spring catalogs and immediately requested a copy from the library. (Side note: Can you "pre-order" stuff from your library before it's released too? It's great because if it's an e-book and you're "first in line," items show up on your Kindle at 11 p.m. the night before release!)  Now back to the review.

When the book finally came in, I couldn't wait to get it home and start reading.  I already knew the premise of the book and that the author had spent a significant amount of time interviewing mothers of the Mississippi Delta churches. Immediately I was swept up in the lives of these remarkable women. Just reading their stories and watching them posed for their portraits, most in their Sunday's finest, was more than enough to satisfy my soul.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the elder's stories, but the author kept interjecting herself into the overall story instead of just letting their stories speak for themselves. I was interested in their stories, not necessarily how she came to find the elders and who introduced them to her or the literal roads she traveled to get to these women.  It just seemed like unnecessary filler and I had to keep reminding myself that the author is a photographer by trade, not a writer. I would have happily given the book a higher rating had she not been such a distraction.  Don't let that sway you from picking up Delta Jewels.  These mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers are worthy of having their stories read.

192 p.
Published: April 2015

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

#BookReview: IN THE LANGUAGE OF MIRACLES by Rajia Hassib

Early on in reading it, In the Language of Miracles reminded me of last year’s notable read from Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You. In both books, there’s an element of surprise when a secret about one of the children is revealed. While Everything I Never Told You is upfront about the family’s secret, Ng carefully peels back the layers, exploring how and why they find themselves in the situation they’re in and how they are moving on from it. Rajia Hassib’s In the Language of Miracles takes its time in revealing just what the family is so hesitant to speak about and, sadly, by the time readers find out, they’ve almost lost interest.

Initially, though, In the Language draws readers in with its story of the young immigrants from Egypt. When they first arrive, Samir and Nagla Al-Menshawy are a young couple. Samir has brought his family to the metropolitan New York area while he completes his residency. The growing family soon moves to an idyll town in New Jersey, where Samir sets up his medical practice and the family establishes roots. Making fast friends with their neighbors next door, Samir and Nagla are indeed living the American Dream.

We fast forward and the Al-Menshawys are estranged from their neighbors. In fact, they have become pariahs in their town. Eventually we find out why, but readers are still left in the dark about so many things. The author could have, and probably should have, spent more time focusing on the eldest son, Hosaam, since he is the center of how the family is perceived. Instead, that time is devoted to middle son, Khaled and his relationships with his parents, sister and friends.

I’m guessing that Hassib wanted to focus on the aftermath and how a family goes about picking up the pieces after such an incident, but as the reader, there was so much more that I wanted to know and was never told. On the flip side, there was so much I didn’t need or want to know, but was given. Although there were interesting aspects to the overall story, I’m not sure that this is a book or author that I would return to again.

288 p.
Published: August 2015

Friday, September 4, 2015


When Terry McMillan burst on the scene in the early 90s, she gave readers the black girl magic they’d been looking for and didn’t even know it. Her writing gave birth to a whole generation of authors. For so long they had a story to tell and publishers were finally taking note. Fast forward 20 years and a new generation of authors has emerged on the scene. With her Morrow Girls series, D. Bryant Simmons is quickly proving to be a student of McMillan’s early work.

How to Knock a Bravebird from Her Perch is the story of Pecan, a young woman born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi by her father when her mother leaves town, and them, behind. Her father’s death when she’s a teenager leaves an already fragile Pecan susceptible to a smooth talker by the name of Ricky. With his dream of boxing professionally in mind, Ricky convinces Pecan to leave the familiar town and move to Chicago with him as his wife.

It’s not long before Pecan realizes that she’s made a mistake in moving north to the big city, and while she might be able to adjust to life there, it’s difficult to adjust to the blows Ricky’s fists land on her body when the mood strikes him. Saddled first with one baby, then another and another, Pecan begins to believe that she’ll never get out from under the thumb of her jealous, insecure husband. Then salvation arrives in the form of Ricky’s aunt Clara. Aunt Clara doesn’t make everything better, but she does give Pecan the kind of maternal guidance and support that her life has lacked up until that point. With new found confidence, Pecan’s path is altered, as is the path of her daughters.

As I read How to Knock a Bravebird, I kept thinking to myself that I'd read it before. I knew the characters well already.  I read Terry McMillan's first novel in college. I remember being blown away by her portrayal of Mildred, an emotionally stunted mother in a suburb of Detroit. It was just by coincidence that I happened to re-read Mama shortly after reading How to Knock a Bravebird and its sequel Blue Sky.

The parallels between McMillan’s work and Simmons are clear. While Pecan is in Chicago, Mildred is, for a long period of time, in Detroit, cities that drew African Americans during the Great Migration. Both women find themselves with men that look good, but are no good for them. They also mother children that they’re unable to nurture because they’re too busy trying to figure out how to survive themselves. We see them move on from those men and continue to make bad decisions because the lessons they should have learned still haven’t been. And we witness the effects of their bad decisions on their children, the majority of whom are girls, continuing the cycle in future generations.

There’s no doubt that McMillan has heavily influenced Simmons. As much as I enjoyed How to Knock a Bravebird and Blue Sky, it’s my hope that Simmons finds her own voice soon so readers can enjoy her authentic work, not re-hashings of someone else’s voice. After all, there is only one Terry McMillan, and though she tells a hell of a story, there are more stories to be told and Simmons should focus on them.

344 p.
Published: January 2014

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

#BookReview: MR. AND MRS. DOCTOR by Julie Iromuanya

Nineteen years in America and Job Ogbonnaya has little to show for it. Sent to the United States by his parents to attend college and eventually become a doctor, Job has failed. Instead of admitting this to his family, and to himself, he lives a lie. Everyone back home in Nigeria refers to him as Mr. Doctor.

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor opens with Job’s honeymoon with his new bride, Ifi. An orphan raised by her aunt and uncle, Ifi is on the road to spinsterhood until the prospect of marriage to Job arises. With years shaved off of her real age of 30 and a proper family name, Ifi is a suitable wife for a man of Job’s stature. So it is that Job and Ifi enter their marriage under the veil of lies and deceit.

While Job has struggled to carve out a decent living as a nurse’s assistant, his friend Emeka thrived. A civil engineer with a big house, the beautiful Gladys as his wife and a gaggle of children, Emeka is living the American Dream that Job is sure was promised to him. For all of his boastful ways, Emeka strikes me as a genuinely good person that has Job’s best interests at heart. However, Job is so jealous and fearful of his secret being discovered that he’s never able to fully accept Emeka’s kindness and constantly thinks that he’s trying to undermine him. Though Emeka and Gladys do have laughs at Job’s expense, they rarely do so in front of his face, sparing him the humiliation that would come if he knew that they knew what he was hiding.

As Ifi continues to dream of her big house with a white picket fence, you start to feel sorry for her, trapped in a squalid apartment with no one for company except a bigoted old lady that soon turns on her when she realizes that Ifi prefers the company of those that she looks down on. Imagine coming to a foreign country with all of your hopes and dreams pinned on one man, only to find that he’s let you down. Ifi doesn’t readily make friends with Gladys, who seems to look down on her from their first meeting. Is she so condescending because she thinks Ifi knows the truth about Job and is going along with it, does she think she’s desperate, does she think she’s stupid? It’s never really clear, but we know from her shocking actions later in the book that she completely disregards her feelings time and time again. There’s an animosity toward Ifi that’s never really explained.

Job’s lies and foolishness are so overwhelming and so far reaching. Watching Ifi move through life with Job reminded of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It’s difficult to feel sorry for her because her initial deceit is what put her in the situation she’s in. Is her one lie more forgivable? I think so, because it doesn’t hurt anyone. Job’s lies keep his family living near poverty and jeopardize their future, and he never learns from his mistakes, which is most dangerous.

Every character serves a purpose in Mr. and Mrs. Doctor. I appreciate that the author gives us insight into the thoughts of both Ifi and Job, it makes for a more balanced story and there’s no need to guess how one of them feels in reaction to what the other has said or done. This is a solid debut from Julie Iromuanya and I definitely look forward to reading more from her soon.

288 p.
Published: May 2015