Kemi is ready to change her life. She’s sick of being second-guessed in the boardroom; tired of smiling politely while men gaze at her body; bored of dating surveys that tell her Black African women are the least desired in America. Moving across the world, for a new job, certainly things will be different?
Brittany-Rae is tired of serving others. She’s determined not to struggle like her parents did. As a flight attendant, she’s seen the way the super-wealthy float, untouchable and easy, and she envies it. As a model in her twenties, she had a taste of that privilege. Now pushing forty, she knows that to have one kind of freedom, she must sacrifice another.
Muna began her treacherous journey two years ago. Then, she was a family of three. Now her mother and younger brother are buried somewhere at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. She’s been granted asylum, but she can’t shake the feeling that she will never belong. When your only family is a stack of passport photos, it’s hard to grow new roots.
In search of escape, these three women find themselves in Stockholm, a city that prides itself on being egalitarian and open. Instead of a fresh new start, they find the same problems just wear a different name.
*This ARC/Finished Copy was sent to me by Head of Zeus Books, please read our disclaimer policy for more information. Thank you for letting me be apart of this Bookstagram Tour!*
Gosh, where do I start with this one.
Through three different women, Akinmade Åkerström weaves together a story depicting Black womanhood in a variety of different forms. Through Kemi, a narrative depicting ‘the independent strong’ black woman, career-focused but lonely for love. Brittany-Rae, the beautiful Black woman, fetishised and tired of sacrificing herself for others. Muna, the young Black woman, alone and heartbroken from the cruelties of life. All of them united by the misogynoir they face in the predominantly white country, Sweden and brought together by an influential rich white man.
I went into this novel blind. I knew it was about three black women.
But I had no idea what the plot would be like.
Or that it was set in a Nordic country.
I didn’t expect to love it. I didn’t expect to be completely and utterly hooked by each narrative. The novel is beautifully written with picturesque descriptions of Stolkholm that will leave you wanting to visit. Nevertheless, Akinmade Åkerström is masterful in the way she underlines the beauty with something dark and sinister. It in turn feeds into the discussion of racism and misogynoir. The plot was incredibly strong and each character’s voice unique and moulded to fit their individual story.
At times, some characters’ narratives were stronger than others. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how this book wasn’t about Black women forming a united front against racism. I say, pleasantly, as each character dealt with what they were experiencing in various different ways. They were all linked to this one man and their paths crossed occasionally. However, their lives remained separate. It was intriguing to read about.
Although, their actions left me shocked.
The number of times I would let out a little gasp and then catch myself. There were moments where I couldn’t believe what I was reading.
A theme that was prominent throughout all three narrative was ‘fetishisation’. All three characters experienced it at some point. Kemi and Brittany-Rae more than others. It was an interesting insight into how dating as a Black woman can be, even more so in a predominantly white country. I studied ‘Black female stereotypes’ as part of my dissertation at university and I thought it was incredibly interesting how Akerstrom shows that society will try to fit you into boxes. In particular, the white males in this book seem to think they have some sort of autonomy/ownership over Black female bodies. It’s disturbing.
But yet, very unsurprising.
Muna was an brutal but honest insight into becoming a refugee. From the dangerous passages to the racism and alienation experienced in the country you escape to. Gosh, Muna made me want to cry. Often. Her pain, grief, loneliess and naivety was even more heartbreaking to read about. There’s much I can say about Muna’s narrative but I refuse to give anything away.
Kemi and Brittany-Rae really frustrated me. Their actions seemed so impulsive but yet incredibly human. Both were linked to this white man intricately. Brittany-Rae, in particular, for various reasons irritrated me. But yet, I understood her desire for financial security.
In a world driven by money, she was a prime example of what happens when financial security becomes a prominent reason as to why you stay with someone.
I wouldn’t be able to pick my favourite narrative.
What I will say is that this book will keep you hooked the entire time.
And that ending will leave you speechless….
‘In Every Mirror She’s Black’ has undoubtedly made my top ten of the year.
Liz Dexter says
I’m saving this review – I requested this on NetGalley but was turned down (not sure why as I read a lot of books about different cultures from there) but I think a friend is sending me her review copy. It does look very intriguing and I’ll be back to discuss further!
Ah I’m just seeing this! Yes I would love to discuss further once you’ve read it!!