Suzette, Maple and Agnes, three Black women with albinism, call Shreveport, Louisiana home. At the bustling crossroads of the American South and Southwest, these three women find themselves at the crossroads of their own lives.
Rather 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.
Every single person in this book has an understandable — though not always laudable — desire ... Even when, like Agnes, the characters mess up, we’re right there with them, understanding their motivation. Birdsong’s prose sings with a poet’s sensibility, so each story is carried along with pitch-perfect rhythm and nuanced understanding of human foibles. In the end, Agnes, Suzette and Maple are true to themselves, stepping into their own power and defying predictable solutions.