STAKES IS HIGH by Mychal Denzel Smith
In a post-Trump era and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, Mychal Denzel Smith succinctly and brilliantly weighs in on the ideals of what it is to be American, more specifically, Black in America. From the delusion of patriotism and equality, to the need of accountability by the likes of Bret Kavanaugh, Harvey Weinstein, and everybody’s favorite funny father, Bill Cosby, he is sounding an alarm.
For white viewers, there was absolution. You thought he was funny, maybe you even found her attractive, and the children relatable, so here was proof, definitively, that you had room for acceptance of black people after all. It had nothing to do with race- they rarely even mentioned it, so you never thought about it. For thirty minutes, a colorblind reality, wherein white people had no responsibility for black success or failure, was possible … So much so that it seemed impossible to imagine Bill committing heinous acts of violence on so many women, across so many years.
This isn’t the first time Smith has taken on iconic real-life social characters. In his nonfiction debut, “Invisible Man Got the Whole World Watching,” he examined his world as a young black man navigating life in the era of President Obama juxtaposed against the murder of Trayvon Martin’s. A superb and accessible social commentary, especially for millennials and Gen Zs. Likewise, “Stakes is High” is immediate and relevant. Both books solidifying Smith as a necessary voice of a generation.
Publishing Release Date: Sep. 15, 2020
MIGRATIONS by Charlotte McConnaghy
Taking place in the not so distant future when animals, fish and birds are all nearly gone, “Migrations” by Australian writer Charlotte McConagy, is quiet, stark, haunting and true as it follows the journey of Franny Stone across oceans and continents. She is running from her demons and her past as she convinces the captain of a private shipping boat and his crew to follow the migration patterns of a near extinct bird that she is tracking. This against the backdrop of a fast-changing landscape and the strictly enforced new laws and environmental activists guarding it all.
Franny, a perpetual wanderer, has even seemingly left her husband, Niall, at the cost of this new adventure. However things were between them before her departure, he is constantly on her mind and she writes to him often. Through each letter, the reader insight into their relationship and his influence on her. With each port stop and avoided catastrophe at sea, there is an illumination into the fisherman and women on what is now Franny’s excursion.
Soon, the reader is swept up in learning about Franny's life through flashbacks, and each of her shipmates. With such interesting, fully-drawn characters, coupled with the backdrop of a depleted earth and environmental catastrophes, you will be completely absorbed. There is something quietly appealing about “Migrations.” The earth Franny inhabits is somewhat still and contemplative, making it a tender and beguiling read that will haunt you well beyond the final chapter.
Publishing Release Date: August 4, 2020
TRUE STORY by Kate Reed Petty
This is a trippy, page-turning thriller with a feminist theme that lives up to its buzz. I don’t care if that’s too many adjectives or descriptors because that’s what comes to mind while reading the book and in its completion. Navigating between time periods of 1999 and 2015, the reader comes to know the the characters, first as teen agers, through young adulthood. While still in high school when a group of soccer stars recount a story of alleged rape they committed against a classmate, the story takes on various shapes and forms throughout the school year through over the next decade among the possible perpetrators and the young woman allegedly victimized.
Alice Lovette who was wasted at the time of the said crime, has never really known what happened to her. Is it the actual crime or the not knowing that has informed her reclusive life all these years? As a ghost writer she tells other people’s stories, but her former classmate and friend, who is a documentary filmmaker, insists she tell her story regarding that fateful night. Author Kate Reed Petty drives the plot through different points of view, varied location and formats, including as a screenplay in some chapters. The result is not really knowing what is true, what is a lie, who’s right and who’s wrong. An unreliable narrator has never been so frustrating, yet delectable.
Publishing Release Date: August 4, 2020