Hannaham combines both modes — wicked satire and selected allusions to The Odyssey and its progeny — to create a scathing, heartbreaking takedown of the carceral system ... Carlotta’s prison-inflected Black vernacular may draw criticism from those who find it challenging to parse...or who question whether Hannaham, a Black gay man, can authentically channel a Black Colombian trans woman’s experience. But the author has always done the work required to write diverse characters ... Carlotta’s bold voice hooks readers from the beginning, making them willing ride-or-dies ... Hannaham hasn’t merely given the classics an update; he has given readers an unforgettable glimpse into the injustices the carceral system heaps on women like Carlotta — and deftly made space in literature for a distinctive voice that deserves a place in the modern literary pantheon. All hail, and may the gods prosper Carlotta Mercedes!
We may understand its mechanisms, but Hannaham’s bumper-car narrative still astonishes ... Carlotta’s internal dialogue is always breaking into the third-person narrative midsentence, punctuation be damned. But her stream of consciousness keeps pace with the frenetic action of the story; her interjections feel seamless after a few pages ... Hannaham’s mix of humor and horror works because of Carlotta’s interjections in the narration, which have the effect of tempering catastrophe and reimagining the mundane. Notwithstanding her in-your-face tragedies, past and pending, Carlotta’s voice is captivating. Throughout the novel, she rediscovers Brooklyn and doesn’t withhold on the changes she confronts ... In his fiction, Hannaham has demonstrated an abundance of empathy for the sexual minorities he writes about ... we often circle the Same Old Anger, Usual Frustrations and Somebody Oughtas, but her idiosyncratic wit injects freshness and pathos to the issues ... At a time when families with trans and gay children feel persecuted by state governments, Hannaham makes Carlotta heroic ... Don’t let the title of this wondrous novel fool you. Hannaham cares deeply about Carlotta. From a mash-up of perspectives, he writes like a guardian angel. Or — as our narrator says of Carlotta, when she’s feeling elated — 'like a drag queen doing a layup.'
Sharp social commentary intermingles with what is very nearly slapstick humor ... Carlotta is merely human; nevertheless, her narrative voice crackles with energy, shifting between first and third person and suggesting an imagined voice-over for the miniseries she pictures for her story--with her occasional direct interjections. Her struggles to comply with the terms of her parole, avoid being around alcohol during Independence Day celebrations and find employment are at times wonderfully farcical, particularly the plan she comes up with after having been hired as a driver in spite of never having gotten a license ... In the vibrant persona of Carlotta, Hannaham once again presents a thrilling voice. Readers, at least, will prove the title wrong.