In 1980's Brooklyn, Key is a doula serving the Black women of her East New York neighborhood. She lives, like her mother, among the departed and learns to speak to and for them. Her untimely death leaves her mother Audrey on the verge of losing the public housing apartment they shared. Colly, Key's grieving son, soon learns that he too has inherited this gift and begins to slip into the liminal space between the living and the dead. In the present, an expulsion from school forces Colly to realize that he must be accountable to the place he is from.
A gorgeous novel about loss, survival and community ... The structure of We Are a Haunting is inventive; the switching of viewpoints makes it feel like an extended conversation between Colly and Key ... White's characters are masterfully drawn, and his use of language is brilliant ... This is a stunningly original and beautiful novel of devotion, a book that gives and gives as it asks us what it means to be part of a family, of a community.
Poignant and poetic ... Each character is acutely aware of the weight of their forebears, which White uses to effectively tell a story that is both intimate and sweeping ... White works wonders with this inspired story of grief and the struggle for hope.
The book covers a lot of ground, and it can seem at times diffuse or indulgent, but for the most part its wide-ranging, multivocal, quick-shifting style—which incorporates frequent allusions to literature and visual art, brand names and the neighborhood prestige attached to them, and a mixtape element—serves admirably to emphasize the book’s ambition.