With this collection, she proves a compelling essayist too, her voice direct, lucid, and fearless. All the pieces are enjoyable and often surprising, even when rather slight. But the most substantial ones are memorable—even unforgettable. They deftly straddle the personal and the political ... Her particular perspective sheds light on the complexity of race in the United States; the essay follows her education in a history that is not straightforwardly her own, and yet is inescapable.
... opens with its exhilarating eponymous piece, encompassing her heady childhood experiences of flying internationally as an unaccompanied minor as well as the giddy experience of executing a loop de loop in a light aircraft. Both perceptive and informative, that essay sets the tone for the rest of this collection, in which Forna delves into a dynamic tapestry of resonant topics: the various elements that she explores in her fiction — migration, war and its aftermath, familial love, friendship, curiosity, resilience — are equally present in her nonfiction ... Forna retains a lightness of touch and depth of insight in her writing, alongside perceptible senses of both self-awareness and humor ... New essays and previously published ones — part of Forna’s work over the past decade — nestle easily and complementarily together here, offering a revealing glimpse into the author’s peripatetic life, commitment to family and community, and deep appreciation for life’s oddities, quirks, and moments of human compassion ... Forna’s perspective covers the salient, often momentous details, as well as a larger picture of the world and of her place in it ... Forna has a clear aptitude for being at home wherever she lands ... Forna’s compassionate streak, her interest in what humanizes us, is apparent throughout ... Forna has a fine command over both language and life — her sense of agency is pleasurably palpable — and her vivid, keenly observed anecdotes make her tendency toward hope all the more reassuring ... evocative, provocative.
The varied essay lengths give readers time to breathe in between, before they embark on another of Forna’s adventures ... These essays are raw, informative, and often entertaining; fans of essayists like Roxane Gay will devour this book quickly and be left wanting more of Forna’s stories.