Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson
This was an absolutely riveting book, one whose writing was truly incredible. I cannot recall the last time an author’s distinct voice was so compelling–important, since it is told from three separate perspectives–coupled with a really fun, eerie premise. The total effect is just mesmerizing.
One of the most intriguing aspects to the book is the fantastical element of “saint’s hands,” a unique genetic ability that the first main character possesses. The explanation of saint’s hands is slow in coming out, yet somehow, the way the author throws in mentions and tiny yet sufficient descriptions, the reader feels like they’ve known about this phenomenon all along.
Of course, the idealized setting is perfect for this three-part story. The Harlem Renaissance has reached its contemporary peak and the US is on the brink of entering World War II. The racial injustice that serves as a skeleton holding up the meat of the book is an understated fact of life for the characters, cropping up from time to time as if it’s a character all on its own (as in, the argument in the hospital lobby over permitting one of the characters to receive emergency treatment there). The events of the world are a great backdrop for the more important events on the page.
The book is an unputdownable read with a flowing, distinctive style that was simply magic.
Trouble The Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson