This is a tough one to review. I think the premise is interesting and important... Basically it's the story of a young Black woman, Emira, working as a babysitter for a wealthy white family, and the white people around her who informally dub themselves her "white saviors." The mom of the couple, Alix, and Emira's new boyfriend Kelley both take on this role, deciding "what is best" for Emira while being just generally clueless and antagonistic.
Emira is confronted, and recorded, while in a grocery store with Briar, the little girl she babysits. The "mall cop" approaches to ask why Emira is with this young white girl, and refuses to allow them to leave until Briar's dad shows up. From then on everyone white in Emira's life has something to say about what Emira should be doing... release the video and hold the cop accountable, get a better job, date this person not that one... The micro-aggressions and condescending racism are meant to make the reader think, and they do serve that purpose. The social commentary in the message is important. Sadly, the actual execution of the story was just lacking, for me.
I think the hype around this book is more about it's potential than it is about the actual writing. While I very much enjoyed the sweet relationships between Emira and 3 year old Briar, overall the characters felt one-dimensional, and the dialogue forced. And the ending?! Oof. I know it must be really tough to figure out how to end a novel, because so many authors get it wrong. I literally thought my book was missing a page, it all ended so abruptly. I flipped back and forth three times between the last page and the acknowledgment page.
I'm still giving it 2 stars because I think the subject matter is timely and significant enough for this to still be a good read. Just don't expect too much by way of authorial flair.
I mean, this is a debut novel, so... maybe the next one will be better? *insert shrug emoji*
UP NEXT: The Ladies of Grace Adieu, and Other Stories, by Susanna Clark