17 Books to Kick-Start Fall
A debut novel reveals the agony and ecstasy of Midwestern youth...Jacqueline Woodson on the power of diversity in kid lit...a new volume collects the letters Nelson Mandela wrote from behind bars...and more.
7 of 17
How to Love a Jamaican
Images of mermaids swim throughout How to Love a Jamaican (Ballantine), Alexia Arthurs's shimmering story collection. A pair surfaces in "Slack," the tragic tale of a mother whose starry-eyed daughters drown while pretending to be sirens of the deep. In "Shirley from a Small Place," a Rihanna-like pop star poses as a finned beauty for a video shoot before returning to her native island to recover from an abusive relationship and a friend's death. Mermaids are a fitting metaphor for the women here, still pining for turquoise waters even as they put down roots in Brooklyn or Iowa. Arthurs captures the ambivalence of belonging and displacement. With its singular mix of psychological precision and sun-kissed lyricism, this dazzling debut marks the emergence of a knockout new voice.
— Michelle Hart