“Gutsy . . . challenging boundaries is what brave fiction does.”--The New York Times
“So much fun . . . Like the best of John le Carré, it’s extremely tough to put down.”—NPR
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2019 (SO FAR) BY Esquire • Vogue • Real Simple
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
What’s it about?
On page one of this novel Marie Mitchell is awakened by a sound in her house. By the second page the intruder is dead. It is 1992 and we quickly learn that Marie is black, smart, a former FBI agent, and a mother. The story is being told in letter form to her two sons. She wants her sons to understand what has happened in her life to bring them all to this point in 1992. To tell the whole story Marie must swing back and forth in time. She tells of her upbringing in the 1960's, an unexpected assignment in 1986, and then back to present day 1992. This book will keep you thinking...
What did it make me think about?
Lauren Wilkinson not only writes an espionage thriller with a good plot and interesting characters, but she also asks really thoughtful questions- all without preaching at you (I think that is hard to do). She asks global questions- What were the repercussions of moving the cold war into Africa? Did we do more harm than good? What about these private security companies that are now being hired in the third world? She also asks more personal questions- What does it mean to be a "true American". What was it like to be a black woman in an all-white male profession in the 1980's? "Very few of those men understood having no choice about whether they were political or not: Unlike me, they weren't people who'd had their existence politicized on their behalf." She even brings up the fact that African-Americans have been practicing subterfuge for an awfully long time in this country. Interesting things to think about...
Should I read it?
I was impressed by this book. First and foremost- American Spy is an espionage-thriller. It is just a smarter thriller than most. I love reading books that broaden my mind and make me think about the world in a different way. This book shines a light on so many issues I never think about- and of course the plot kept me turning the pages. Lauren Wilkinson is a first time author and I can't wait for her next book!
"I loved Robbie, which meant he could truly make me furious. In too much of what he said, I heard an overconfidence about his limited life experience and in his aggressively average intelligence.. He was the type of guy that, had he been born white, would probably have wound up at an excellent business school."
If you like this try-
The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
The Caretaker by AX Ahmad
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen