PositiveThe Independent (UK)Marie NDiaye soon establishes herself as a writer who dissects her characters with impressive forensic detail, the subtlest speech inflection or gesture put under the microscope ... The novel is in the fashionable style of the discontinuous narrative, the plot, as such, embedded in a scramble of thoughts, feelings, scenes, memories and time-shifts, sometimes resembling stream-of-consciousness and eschewing the closure of more traditional endings. But if you\'re prepared to abandon the strictures of convention, it\'s a great read. While the \'non-ending-endings\' strategy might risk being dissatisfying, it forces a deeper intellectual engagement. In the absence of answers, we reflect on what we\'ve read, and because we don\'t know what happens to the characters, they linger in the mind – especially Rudy, whose hectic interiority is so compelling.
PositiveThe New StatesmanThis complex book, light on exposition, requires careful reading and some things aren’t always clear ... The novel challenges gender stereotypes while commensurately depicting a traditionally masculine African universe, with an occasional nod to feminist retribution ... uncompromising in its violence ... a psychoanalyst’s dream read ... The vigorous, bathetic prose veers from the heightened style of Greek epics to fabricated African languages to syntactic traces of West African pidgin and Caribbean patois. To call this novel original doesn’t do justice to such a phantasmagoric work of art ... James has thrown African cultures, mythologies, religions, customs, histories, rituals, world-views and topographies into the mighty cauldron of his imagination to create a work of literary magic.
RaveThe GuardianThe girls are fired up by their individual hopes and dreams, but also weighed down by family problems, poverty and expectations. Friendship is their salvation and support. Woodson is particularly good at describing their wonderful, growing camaraderie ... The novel successfully defies any sense of a traditional plot. There is a lot unsaid, a lot implied, which creates suspense and a curiosity, in particular, about what happened to the mother. This is, instead, a novel to be enjoyed for its visual and impressionistic prose style.