This clever and compelling memoir is a radical work of unravelling childhood trauma and its long repercussions that can stretch out into adulthood. Debora is kidnapped and held at knifepoint age 14 but over time realises that there was another, more constant kind of violence that punctured her childhood. Presented in short chapters this is a clear-eyed, shrewdly funny and psychologically astute examination of the ripple effect of violence across generations and communities, how victims become victimizers and the hard reckoning to acknowledge its lasting emotional impact on individuals. This book is also testament to the author’s resilience, her belief in love and the incredible power of therapeutic work. Thank you to Lemn Sissay for this amazing recommendation 🙏
If you like your feminist existentialism quiet, odd and darkly funny then look no further. This slim novel takes place in an undetermined time and is narrated by Vitória, a cleaner in an art gallery who stares at the paintings and dreams of a creative life. When her circumstances do eventually change, it becomes apparent that financial freedom does not equate with personal freedom and that there are many other types of labour. Precise in prose and strong in atmosphere, this book will stay with you long after you’ve put it down.
Published by Daunt Books on 4 September 2020
A skilful debut with a lot of heart, Rainbow Milk is a novel adapted from autobiography. It spans the narrator Jesse’s trajectory from a stifling childhood in a Jehovah’s Witness community, coming out as gay and his subsequent estrangement from his family, through to his experiences as a sex worker and waiter as he carves out his path in London searching through sex and drugs, eventually finding his people and the belonging that was lacking in his family. The story begins 50 years earlier with his grandparent’s arrival on the Windrush, clearly showing the traumatic repercussions across generations where hopes for a better life are met with a hostile reception; this doesn’t change for Jesse decades later as a gay black man in white spaces. Mendez brilliantly writes Jamaican patois and Black Country dialect into the dialogue and peppers the narrative with pop culture and music references which make the reading experience truly immersive. This is a stunning rollercoaster of a story about self-discovery through faith, race, sexuality and ultimately love. Highly recommended 🌈 🥛 🖤