I’ve been a Kalisha Buckhanon fan since I read ‘Upstate’, many years after it was first released. It was such an emotional book that it took me many months after reading it to even be able to look at the cover without feeling the melancholy. So, by all means, buy that book as well. But the one I want to recommend today is ‘Speaking of Summer’, her latest novel about a young woman searching for her missing twin sister without whom she doesn’t feel quite complete. I could start listing the themes (most of them evergreen themes, I might add) that the book explores, but I won’t. Instead, read my review, below. And then read the book for yourself.

My review on Goodreads:

Speaking of SummerSpeaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This author, who brought us Upstate one of my all-time favorite novels, keeps switching things up. Her voice changes from book to book, but what remains the same is that she brings us fiction rooted in some of the most troubling social issues of our time.

In ‘Speaking of Summer’ she tackles violence against women, mental illness, and the kinds of secrets that make frightened girls grow into fragmented women. There’s even a little subtle commentary on gentrification and the changing face of Harlem thrown in. What I liked most about this novel is that it includes a lot of introspection as Autumn, the main protagonist, tries to figure herself out, and reconstruct the past to understand her present. I like reading characters’ thoughts, and seeing how through those thoughts, they eventually change behavior and relate to other characters differently. This book gave me plenty of that, though I suspect it will perhaps be too much for some readers.

My only minor quarrel is that at times the prose seemed self-conscious in its effort to be literary. Some sentences I had to re-read three times because they were so laden with heavy ideas they failed to convey mood. That also made this a somewhat slower reading experience than it might have been if the language was smoother. Still, there is no doubt that this was a very intriguing plotline, and a book well worth reading. As always, I’m eager to see what Kalisha Buckhanon puts out next. Recommended.

View all my reviews

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Woman-Centered Fiction Writer, commenting on books, culture and the human condition.

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