17-year-old Farrah Turner is determined to maintain the tight control she has over her life, following her parents’ recent financial trouble. Farrah is convinced that she can keep the life and control that she is accustomed to by maneuvering her way into the home and hearts of her best friend Cherish, the only other Black girl in their upscale community, and Cherish’s white adoptive parents Brianne and Jerry Whitman. Just as Farrah becomes convinced that she’s close to achieving her goal, unsettling occurrences start to take place in the Whitman household causing Farrah to question if she’s truly in control of the situation or if someone else is pulling the strings.
Genre: Young Adult Suspense/Horror
Publication Date: February 8, 2022
-Kept me guessing
The story definitely sets up an intriguing narrative from the beginning. I found myself intrigued and engaged with the conflict, mystery, and unraveling events throughout the novel.
-Disturbed me (in a good way)
In true horror fashion, there are multiple scenes within this book that made me shudder and that disrupted my peace of mind thanks to the author’s ability to effectively set up a scene with anxiety-inducing tension and unnerving descriptions.
-Liked the themes being explored
I appreciated the novel touching on some themes and topics that aren’t often explored in media such as Black girls and women feeling the need to grasp whatever control they can over their lives and image due to the world’s tendency to project negative and unfair ideas onto them. The novel also explores some of the perceived advantages and difficulties that come with being in close proximity to whiteness pretty well. I also like the discussion of the cultural and community disconnect that may take place in Black children that are adopted and raised by white parents as shown through Cherish.
-Wasn't a fan of the protagonist
Besides being unlikeable, one could argue that Farrah is an unreliable narrator who displays signs of being a sociopath, though I don’t believe this is explicitly stated. While I expected to enjoy reading from the perspective of a character who possessed these traits, Farrah’s voice and perspective were hard to connect with or see reason in. Despite how intrigued I was with the plot and getting answers to the mystery surrounding Farrah, Cherish, and the Whitmans I don’t think that the story was best told from Farrah’s point of view.
What particularly bothered me about reading from Farrah’s perspective was her opinion of her own parents, who are both black. Farrah spends a significant amount of time villainizing her mother and trying to one-up her. Farrah is convinced that her mother is “just like her” in terms of needing control in every situation and putting on a mask to hide her true nature.
For much of the book, I was confused as to whether or not I should have been seeing what Farrah was seeing in her mother because I didn’t. In fact, Farrah’s almost resentful attitude towards her parents compared to the praise that she showed the white and wealthy Whitmans through most of the novel had me convinced that she was struggling with deep internal hatred for herself, her blackness, and her parents' lack of wealth.
Luckily, her unfounded perception of her mother was addressed in a later chapter which strongly suggested that Farrah’s view of those around her could not be trusted. This was further proven by the conclusion of the novel. While I did appreciate the story acknowledging and confirming this I still found my enjoyment of the novel, overall, being impacted by my inability to fully understand Farrah and her impression of the people and events taking place around her.
-Pacing was a bit slow (in the beginning)
This was in part due to Farrah’s voice and my confusion around her way of thinking in the first act of the book. However, things do start picking up quite quickly towards the mid-point as more questions start to pile onto the growing mystery of events taking place within the Whitmans’ home and social circle.
-Ending left me uncomfortable, conflicted, and a little underwhelmed
The conclusion of this novel left me unsatisfied for multiple reasons. For one,
I wasn’t expecting the revelation of the mystery to be as shallow as it felt. The motive and reasoning as to why these baffling events took place did touch on some disturbing, but honest, realities regarding how black communities can be viewed by non-black people. However, the narrative didn’t add much depth to what could have been an interesting discussion, in my opinion.
Also, the actions of the main characters following these revelations were pretty bewildering considering the relationships, conflicts, and dynamics that had been set up throughout the novel. Finally, the conjecture made by Farrah of what would take place as a result of these actions felt unrealistic and far-fetched considering the circumstances.
My Rating: 2.75/5
Would recommend to fans of My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, and Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé.