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Book Review: Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau is a coming of age novel taking place in Baltimore, Maryland. During the 1970's, fourteen year old Mary Jane is caught in the middle of her family's conservative ideals and the progressive ideals of the Cone family where she is a summer nanny. Mary Jane is a sheltered teen who enjoys cooking with her mother, listening to Broadway Show Tunes, and singing in the church choir. On the first day of work, she is shocked at the mess in the Cone's home and introduces them to home cooked meals and keeping the house clean. In return, Mary Jane gets a front row seat to sex, drugs, and rock & roll. This novel was the selected for the book club I belong to. Again, this is a novel that I likely wouldn't have chosen to read on my own, but I was glad I did. Mary Jane is the first novel I've read by Jessica Anya Blau, and I was impressed with her storytelling.  Touching on race, class, and stereotypes, along with drugs and infidelity, it reminded

Book Review: Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow

Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow was published on April 5, 2022 by The Dial Press and is the debut novel of the author. As the story unfolds, we learn the narrative of a Southern, Black family told from three different generations and how the legacy is finally changed with the most recent generation.

This book was selected as the monthly read for one of the book clubs I belong to. I typically read books in the genres of horror, thriller, suspense, and mystery, so Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow isn't likely a book I would have chosen to read on my own. However, I am so glad that it was selected because it was an interesting read, and I couldn't wait to see how the story of the North women progressed.

Although this is a work of fiction, it felt like it was real life as it touched on very palpable subjects like racism, domestic violence, rape, gangs, life and death, and many more topics that plagues society today. There were times that my heart ached and hurt for the characters and other situations that gave me hope that the characters would have happy times. 

Although Memphis is extremely well written and engaging, there were times I had trouble keeping up with the characters because the story was told from several different perspectives. It also went back and forth between time periods which contributed to the occasional mix up. With that being said, that's my only complaint.

Such a beautiful, poignant story, I wholeheartedly recommend Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow and give it four out of five stars. I look forward to reading more novels from this author.
 

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