This novel is first up in my effort at more inclusion. I’m planning to review some different works that might be award-worthy for the next awards cycle. The novel was published in 2017 by Balzer+Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins. Zoboi is Haitian and the novel could probably be classified as dark fantasy. It runs about 300 pages.

Fabiola Toussaint is emigrating from Haiti to America, where she expects to find the good life. Because Fabiola is an American citizen, she clears Immigration, but her mother is detained for the visa violation that made Fabiola a citizen. Lost and alone, Fabiola arrives at the Detroit airport with all their luggage and no idea what to do. She is met by her cousins, Chantel, Donna and Princess, daughters of her Matant Jo. They take her home to their house on the West Side, but there is no celebration, no big welcome. She has to hunt in the refrigerator for something to eat and borrow a uniform to go to their expensive, private school the next day. Fabiola tries to get her footing in the strange culture while praying to the lwas for her mother’s release. Soon she finds she has arrived at Papa Legba’s Crossroads, and that a Sacrifice will be necessary in order for her magic to work.

This book is a solidly written coming-of-age tale with great characters and a strong grasp of the different cultures in both Haiti and Detroit. The truth of what her life has been built on dawns slowly, as Fabiola tries to help Matant Jo with her illness and Donna with her dysfunctional love life. Zoboi also writes asides that give the background on each character, the house and the street, placing them solidly in Detroit’s history. It’s gripping and a quick read; I finished it in one day.

On the negative side, the theme is a little murky here. The story is memorable but unsettling, and I’m not sure if there’s a lesson. Everything has a cost, maybe?

Four and a half stars.

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