Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

This was a strange book that was well written that was not for me.

I first discovered Rivers Solomon with Rivers’s first novel, The Unkindness of Ghosts, set on a generation ship that has instituted a version of 19th century southern slavery (for undisclosed reasons).  It was excellent - raw and interesting and beautiful.  So I eagerly bought and dove into the Deep, Rivers’s novella based on a song about mermaids who evolved from enslaved pregnant people tossed overboard during the Atlantic crossing.  I did not love it - the plot was too non linear for me, the language too poetic for my tastes.  I couldn’t follow it. 

So I went into Sorrowland with lowered expectations.  It was a good book - an albino black woman escapes her black power cult after being experimented on, after which she has twins and lives off the land while on the run. And she sees ghosts.  The story was interesting, the writing excellent, but I couldn’t find a way to like the protagonist. I know she was supposed to be a flawed character, and I can appreciate her, but fairly early in the book she leaves her twin infants asleep alone in the woods in the middle of the night while she seeks out a sexual encounter. I was never able to move past that act of child endangerment and I could never like her or trust her again after that. I know she didn’t always make the best choices and that she was only 15 years old at the time, but I just could not get over that and it made it impossible for me to ever like her. This book is good.  It is just not for me. 

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