Told primarily from Velvet’s viewpoint with interjections from Lynette’s journal, the nebulously era-ed novel draws readers in with a literary cadence made approachable and vibrant by realistic characters speaking in a timeless voice. Velvet’s struggles with how her father’s absence has formed her identity and how her mother’s alcoholism affects her entire life come to life, particularly in interactions with the women who make their lives difficult—Mrs. Evans for Lynette and her daughter, Janet, for Velvet. Luckily, Velvet has quite a few things on her side: From the lessons left to her by her only father figure, the now-deceased Pops, to her best friend and confidante, Mercy, to her grandmother’s quiet love and wisdom.
Of particular note is the care and normalization of Velvet’s faith. She describes herself as a mix between her grandmother’s strain of religious devotion—“God hears me whether I’m sitting in an old wooden pew or right here at this kitchen table”—and her grandfather’s. Her conversations with God will resonate in a simple, honest manner. Her private, prayerful apologies for her mother’s cursing, plus a budding romance with Bobby Johnson, add perfect notes of humor and sweetness to the achingly poignant plot crafted with a lyrical touch.
Takeaway: A poignant tale of growing up with big questions and a heartbroken, yet not broken, mother.
Comparable Titles: Joan F. Smith’s The Half-Orphan’s Handbook, Alex Richards’s When We Were Strangers.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A