RaveThe Washington Post\"
Jocelyn Nicole Johnson uses history to spectacular effect in her debut fiction collection ... What makes My Monticello particularly resonant is that it does not stray far from life as we know it today. In the near future conjured by Johnson, there are the heat waves and wildfires that bring climate change into view. There is fallout from a fraught election. There is the vile replacement theory rhetoric of the right wing. But the lives of Johnson’s richly drawn characters—their personal stories—are always in focus. And, because of it, the storytelling is propulsive, as we follow these refugees along a harrowing journey, with danger ever at their heels. My Monticello is, quite simply, an extraordinary debut from a gifted writer with an unflinching view of history and what may come of it.\
PositiveThe Washington Post... a layered, complex exploration of race and class ... Johnson is particularly adept at drawing the dividing lines between African Americans and working-class Whites, while at the same time illuminating the things they share, including a struggle to survive amid layoffs and a dearth of opportunity in the economically devastated industrial Midwest ... The intersecting lives of Blacks and Whites — and their divergent understanding of each other — are rendered with care ... While Johnson notes his dismay and the strain on their marriage in the early part of the narrative, Ruth’s relationship with her husband is not examined in sufficient depth as the novel unfolds. The reader is left to wonder what truly binds the couple together. Additionally, there is a sort of no-questions-asked oddness during Ruth’s reappearance at home in Indiana after so many years away. One would expect the writer to take a bit more time to deal with the emotions surrounding that surprise return ... But these quibbles do not take away from the overall narrative. It is a tale of how lies and omissions can shape and warp us. It is a story about reconciliation, set against a backdrop of racism and resentments. But more than anything, it is a meditation on family and forgiveness.