NERUDA ON THE PARK by CLEYVIS NATERA

An exhilarating debut novel following members of a Dominican family in New York City who take radically different paths when faced with encroaching gentrification

A beautiful debut novel. Eusebia and her husband, Vladimir, along with their daughter, Luz, have lived in Nothar Park which is a predominately Dominican part of New York for twenty years. Having come from the Dominican Republic.

Eusebia is considered an elder in the community and she isn’t happy about the gentrification going on around them. Especially when the owner of their building decides to go condo and sell the units. So they must move out or be bought out. They are both proud of their daughter, a lawyer in a fancy firm downtown.

All the while behind Eusebia’s back, Luz is helping her father design the perfect house in the Dominican Republic for him and his wife when they retire. They have worked hard and sacrificed for their dreams and their daughter.

After an accident, Eusebia is even more determined than ever to keep her neighborhood as it is. She enlists her group of women friends and they come up with a plan that may get them all killed.

Meanwhile, Luz has lost her job and fallen hard for the man leading the demo project. This pits mother and daughter against each other and will lead to dangerous results.

It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel. Natera’s writing weaves together themes of family, identity, and community and what we are willing to sacrifice for those we love.

It is a beautifully told story.

NetGalley/May 17th, 2022 by Ballantine Books





THE BLACK AGENDA Edited by ANNA GIFTY OPOKU-AGYEMAN

The Black Agenda: Bold Solutions for a Broken System

The Black Agenda mobilizes top Black experts from across the country to share transformative perspectives on how to deploy anti-racist ideas and policies into everything from climate policy to criminal justice to healthcare. This book will challenge what you think is possible by igniting long-overdue conversations around how to enact lasting and meaningful change rooted in racial justice.” —Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist and Stamped From the Beginning

The Black Agenda is the first book I have seen that uses essays by experts all over to give us a perspective on issues we may not be aware of and if we are aware and just want to know more and what to do to effect change, it’s perfect.

There are so many issues addressed here. From mental health to climate change. This subject of police brutality and a culture of racism in every aspect of society. The inequalities and injustices against people of color. Even the question of infant and mother health issues.

If there is to be any hope for America, it needs to begin with true equality for all people. This is truly one of the best books I have read this year.

NetGalley/February 1st, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Black Cake

In this moving debut novel, two estranged siblings must set aside their differences to deal with their mother’s death and her hidden past–a journey of discovery that takes them from the Caribbean to London to California and ends with her famous black cake.

This story begins in the present with siblings, Byron and Benny dealing with their mother, Eleanor Bennett’s death. Once very close, the siblings have barely spoken since Benny walked out the day she tried to explain who and what she was to her family.

Neither of them wants to be sitting with their mothers’ long-time friend and lawyer listening to what their mother has left for them. Recordings of a story. Of her past and how they all came to be what they are now. A story that starts on an island and goes to London and California. A story of a girl who loved the sea. A girl whose drunken father sold her to a horrible excuse of a man. A girl who runs into the sea in her wedding dress to escape.

It is also about friendships, race, and betrayal. About long-held secrets and even a secret child. And of course, the black cake. Their inheritance. The cake they will share with their sister when they find her. Full of misunderstandings, secrets, and injustices, this is one of the most beautifully written books I have read. What a joy to have read this debut novel!

NetGalley/February 1st, 2022 by Ballantine Books