Speaking of SummerSpeaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon
My rating: 3/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne Star

i’m not sure i would categorize this as a “literary thriller” or even “fast-paced” as the synopsis claims—to read this one quickly does a disservice to its subject matter, which is more important and necessary than most books classified as “thrillers” typically contain.

it is, technically, a missing person novel, but it is also a missing self novel, about family and mental illness and the aftereffects of childhood trauma, about the everyday burdens of being a woman in a culture still hostile to women and a social climate where white victims get more news coverage than black victims, where there is so much violence against individuals that the incidents begin to blur together, their victims falling between the cracks as the next sensationalized crime takes its place on the news cycle; a situation autumn addresses while scouring online crime blotters while searching for her missing twin sister, summer:

There seemed to be no boilerplate habit or way of being that could shield women from the unthinkable. It was possible I had heard of all of these lives and endings, from the news and online, but I blocked them out for fear of compressing my own vulnerability with too much possibility. And, compassion fatigue set in often.

she experiences compassion fatigue from the other side, as well, while waiting hopelessly for responses to the posters she puts up across the neighborhood; made conscious of how she herself has become inured to the ubiquitous visual white noise of comparable fliers in an urban environment where people just—vanish.

It was karma. I’d had a choice to zoom in on similar flyers rolled around streetlight and station posts. Instead I chose to stare down choked streets for a bus header, or into dark passages for a train light. I now needed people to stop, notice, care, and recall. But I saw we people were all just alike.

there’s a lot of pain in this novel, and it is often beautifully written. i’m not sure why i didn’t love it, but it gets a solid 3 1/2 stars cats from me. some of it is simply down to flow or pacing—it’s fairly languid and meandering and once i predicted where the story was headed, i became impatient for the book to deliver on that prediction so i could see how the revelation changed the character and the dramatic tension and it just took. its. sweet. time. doing. so. but there’s a lot to applaud here, and i’ll certainly read more of her work going forward. 3 1/2 stars cats is not an “avoid this book” warning—it’s just a matter of my own subjective storytelling preferences, and none of you are me, thank your lucky stars.

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