PositiveNew York Times Book ReviewThe Mermaid of Black Conch is told from three distinct narrative voices ... For a book with this much story, the changes of perspective allow for a nimbleness that does much with a relatively small space ... Aycayia can come to stand in for many ideas and reactions to womanhood, especially Indigenous womanhood. That’s a lot of symbol to place on her shoulders, and the book falters when it tries too explicitly to make meaning of what has been delicately left unsaid. And with a cast of characters so large, some of the minor but crucial ones...can feel a little one-dimensional, especially since we have direct access to their consciousness. Still, one can’t help admiring the boldness of Roffey’s vision, and allowing some flaws to a book this bighearted. Sentence by sensuous sentence, Roffey builds a verdant, complicated world that is a pleasure to live inside.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... best when its touch is the lightest ... The novel affords a nuanced and painful look at adolescence as KB starts to experience the tricky power — and terrifying vulnerability — of inhabiting a sexualized body; as well as the first stirrings of romantic desire ... At times Harris effectively captures a child’s way of naming intense and contradictory feelings ... At other points, though, KB’s voice feels a little too simple, too innocent, for her intelligence, and for the complicated reality she’s up against. Neither do the family secrets driving the story ever feel quite as vivid as the present moment: two sisters and their grandfather trying to understand their obligations to one another, and a girl engaged in the difficult task of growing up.
Destiny O. Birdsong
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewRather than overlap, the novellas resonate with one another, allowing Birdsong, a poet, to display an impressive range of perspectives. The book also illuminates the lived-in corners of a multifaceted city, where headlines like gentrification, economic precarity and crime take on a human scale ... One striking source of resonance is Birdsong’s depiction of her characters’ sexuality: frank, unembarrassed and often delightful ... Birdsong risks unlikability with her characters, allowing them selfishness, rage, violence, helplessness and mistakes large and small. As a result, they feel as idiosyncratic, unpredictable and real as people from life, speaking in voices that are melodic and utterly specific. The magic here is not the supernatural kind, but rather an attention to the grace of the ordinary. It is the magic of watching these women come into their power.