This is My America by Kim Johnson
Seven years ago, Tracy Beaumont’s father was sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit. Each week, Tracy writes a letter to Innocence X pleading to their appeals department to review her father’s case. With only about 200 days left until her father’s scheduled execution, Tracy, her mother, her younger sister, and her older brother are losing hope that they can save their patriarch. Then, another person in their town is murdered, and Tracy’s brother, Jamal, is accused. Jamal did not kill Angela, but he has run away from home to escape arrest and attempt to find her actual killer. With two accused murderers in the family, the entire south Texas town begins to turn away from Tracy’s family to avoid being targeted by the local white nationalist groups. With the clock ticking on both her father and brother, Tracy is determined to prove their innocence and bring justice to her family and the families of the murder victims.
This is My America depicts the effects of police brutality and corrupt prosecution practices in America. Although there are similar Young Adult books tackling racism and police brutality, This is My America distinguishes itself by focusing on the emotional, physical, and financial impact of mass incarceration on the Black family. Johnson shows how the KKK is not a piece of history long-gone, but is an organization continuing to hunt down and torture Americans of color. Johnson explores generational trauma and the danger of being complicit mainly from the perspective of Tracy’s Black family, but also touches on the generational trauma of being a raised to be a racist and the danger of being complicit in that role. These parallel stories of the white and Black family are thought provoking, without centering the white narrative. Along with the personal struggles explored throughout the book, the plot includes a mystery element as Tracy investigates who the real murderers are.
I was able to listen to this book on Libro.fm, and it is narrated by Bahni Turpin, one of my favorite narrators! Turpin brings such life to each of the characters in her narrations, and this book was no different. I would recommend this book (especially the audiobook!) to young adults and adults that can handle content including police encounters, off the page murder, off the page lynching, racism, Black trauma, hate crimes, and police shooting.
Follow Endya on Instagram and GoodReads to see more of what she is reading. If you'd like to read This is My America and support Beausoleil Books, use the buttons below to purchase through the Bookshop.org and Libro.fm affiliate programs:
November’s Book du Mois was such a success! We are so happy with the response for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. For December, we’re bringing you a holiday romance that will sweep you right off your feet! Released in October 2020, In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren is a mistletoe kiss on a wintry night.
The elevator pitch: “Mae is stuck in a time loop, repeating the same holiday week with the same wonderful people, and the same two brothers she’s known all her life. One she’s been in love with for thirteen years and one … she accidentally drunkenly made out with the night before she was stuck in the never-ending Groundhog Day loop. So, why? Why is Mae stuck? And how does she get out so she can spend forever with her true love?”
Our Book du Mois Club to discuss In a Holidaze will be on Friday, December 18, 2020 at 5:30-6:30 p.m. via Zoom. But that’s not all!!! The most exciting news of all: Authors, Christina and Lauren, will be joining via Zoom to discuss their novel with us! Our meeting begins and 5:30 and they will hop on at 6:00! Please, email us questions you have for the authors before the meeting to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are so excited!
Click the button below to register for the event (the event is FREE, but requires registration), and get your copy of In a Holidaze in store, online, via Bookshop, or via Libro.fm.
Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
First Son of the United States Alex Claremont-Diaz is the perfect everything: hard-working student, gorgeous young bachelor, and the future youngest-person-ever-to-be-voted-to-Congress. His seemingly only flaw? He can’t stand Prince Henry of Wales, basically his equally-perfect counterpart of British royalty. When Alex and Prince Henry come to blows in a news-worthy embarrassing photo-op, the White House and the royal family take quick steps to fix things. What begins as an international PR plan to cover up the bad blood between these rival golden boys quickly becomes something more real than either Alex or Henry could have imagined.
Red, White, & Royal Blue is the queer relationship comedy novel I never knew I wanted as a teenager. Heck, it’s the novel I didn’t even know I wanted as an adult! The enemies-to-friends plot induces a giddiness and a warmth that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. And, the narrative style and the plot itself is reminiscent of the young-adult books I read and loved so much when I was a kid; like The Princess Diaries or well...I mean anything Meg Cabot wrote, really. But, what is exceptionally stunning about McQuiston’s book is the characters. Alex and Henry are (on the shiny, media-friendly surface) the kinds of policy-making, world-changing twenty-somethings we all hope to be. But, as they get to know each other better, we learn that they’re actually just as anxious and self-conscious as we all are.
Though the general vibe of this book reminds me of a young-adult story, the slightly older age range of the characters makes this a book for, I think, a slightly older audience, or a young-adult audience that’s ready for some steamy moments. There’s definitely some sexy scenes in this novel, and they’re treated with respect for consent and open communication, so yay! In Red, White, & Royal Blue, McQuiston covers the more personal topics—like intimacy and coming out—in equal measure with the heavy hitters—like politics and international relations—all wrapped up in a page-turner that will have you wanting to re-read it as soon as you’ve finished.
Isabelle Lang has moved from the bayou to the dessert and back again, and holds a BA and MA from Mississippi State University, as well as an MFA in poetry from UNR. Her work has appeared in Beecher’s Magazine, The Meadow, and elsewhere. She currently teaches writing in West Baton Rouge.
If you'd like to read Red, White & Royal Blue and support Beausoleil Books, use the buttons below to purchase through the Bookshop.org and Libro.fm affiliate programs. Also get excited for Casey McQuiston's second book One Last Stop, coming out in June 2021!
As we move into November, the Beausoleil Books family is excited to begin our “Book du Mois” (Book of the Month) series! Each month we will select a book to honor with the “Book du Mois” title. It may be a new release. It may be a classic. It may be horror. It may be romance. There are no rules, and we look forward to hearing everyone’s suggestions for future books!
At the end of each month, Beausoleil Books will host a Book du Mois Club. During Covid-19, these events will be held on Zoom. This format allows us all to stay safe, and still participate in a fun book discussion. Once it is safe to meet in person, we look forward to hosting our book discussions in the Whisper Room (maybe alongside our Vin du Mois). During the Book du Mois Club, owners Blair and Endya will lead a discussion of the month’s book, and look forward to hearing what everyone thinks of the month’s selection.
We will be kicking off with our November Book du Mois pick: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab!! Released in October 2020, this book is a historical fantasy novel spanning Addie’s 300 year life. The Elevator Pitch: “A young woman makes a bargain with the devil to live forever, in exchange, everyone forgets her. Three hundred years later she meets a man in a bookstore who finally remembers her. How far will she go to leave her mark on the world?”
Our Book du Mois Club to discuss The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue will be on Saturday, November 21, 2-3 pm via Zoom. Click the button below to register for the event (the event is FREE, but requires registration), and get your copy of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue in store, online, via Bookshop, or via Libro.fm.
We look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts on one of our most anticipated releases this year! See you all on November 21!
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Intelligent, beautiful, talented Noemi adores her glamorous life in 1950s Mexico City, but misses her cousin, Catalina, who was quickly and scandalously married a few months ago. After Catalina’s marriage, she moved to the countryside to live in her new husband’s family home, High Place, and Noemi hasn’t heard from her since. When Noemi’s father receives a letter from a seemingly psychotic Catalina, he sends Noemi for a visit to check in on Catalina’s health. Although High Place and its residents appear unwelcoming and odd, Noemi is happy to be able to visit Catalina and try to understand why Catalina wanted to marry this mysterious husband. What begins as a simple visit quickly turns into a nightmare for Noemi and all the residents of High Place. Who can Noemi trust? What has made Catalina so ill? And can Noemi and Catalina escape High Place alive?
Although Mexican Gothic begins in an unassuming Gothic way, with a psychotic cousin and a haunted house, the book slowly turns until you are completely snatched from reality and cannot put the book down. Until the end, I couldn’t figure out which of the creepy characters were trustworthy or even which scenes were reality. The atmosphere and setting of this book were remarkably vibrant; I could picture High Place and each of its residents in full disgusting detail. While the book may begin slowly, and some readers may be tempted to put it down after the first 50 pages, this one was worth sticking it out for me and many others.
This is definitely a horror novel, and some readers may need content warnings for sexual assault, suicide, domestic abuse, incest, hallucinations, murder and gore, cannibalism, eugenics, death of a parent and other family members, miscarriages, and racism. It is difficult to provide a full review of this book without delving into spoilers, but it is certainly more than just a haunted house. Readers of fast-paced action-filled horror and readers of beautiful yet devastating prose will find something to enjoy in this story. Despite the plethora of content warnings, I would recommend this book to young adults as well as adults that enjoy horror.
P.S. Mexican Gothic will be adapted into a mini-series by Hulu. Special thanks to our friends at Libro.fm, who provided a copy of Mexican Gothic for me to listen to.
Follow Endya on Instagram to see more of what she is reading. If you'd like to read Mexican Gothic and you're in Lafayette, please come visit us! If you can't make it into the shop, use the buttons below to purchase through the Bookshop.org and Libro.fm affiliate programs:
As we prepare to open the doors of Beausoleil Books this Fall, we wanted to take a little time to introduce the people behind the shelves. Today’s blog is dedicated to the co-owner who loves to write as much as she loves to read, Blair Boles! Blair is so excited to be fulfilling a lifelong dream of owning an independent bookstore and can think of no better place for it than downtown Lafayette. When she isn’t dancing to the tune of live music from the many festivals and events downtown, you can find Blair with her husband, Jacob, on the patio at their favorite downtown restaurant, Spoonbill.
Born and raised in the small town of Olla, Louisiana, Blair fell in love with Lafayette while attending ULL. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at ULM. Blair then took her talents on the undergraduate moot court circuit to LSU Law School where she competed in several moot court and trial advocacy competitions on her way to earning her J.D.
Blair’s contributions at Beausoleil Books extend far beyond being a co-owner. As our Literary Curator, she had this to say about the Beausoleil Books experience: “The books on our shelves are not just New York Times bestsellers. We chose books that express our personality, ideals, and beliefs. We believe in inclusivity and that’s exactly the culture we are growing.” If you find your next love on the shelves of Beausoleil Books, you can probably thank Blair!
The monumental task of curating a bookstore has not come at the expense of Blair’s other lifelong dream. Blair writes contemporary romance novels, or, as she calls them, “a guaranteed happily ever after and some sexy tension.” In fact, her debut novel, What Comes After, is available today, September 22, 2020! The Beausoleil Books family anticipates many wonderful events with local authors and will be most proud to see our very own Blair Boles on the calendar.
What comes after you read What Comes After? If Blair’s book serves as your introduction to the contemporary romance genre and you want to continue the journey, she recommends reading books by her favorite romance author, Sally Thorne. You can purchase Blair’s book and support her bookstore at the same time by ordering through Bookshop (link below). Be sure to follow Blair’s social media for updates on her debut, future books, and events.
See you soon in downtown!
Follow or contact Blair:
Luster by Raven Leilani
Edie is a 23-year-old artist living in New York and working a day-job at a publishing company. While struggling to figure out her place in this world and how to co-exist with others, she slips into a romantic relationship with a married digital archivist, Eric, from New Jersey. Eric’s wife, a medical examiner named Rebecca, has consented to an open marriage with certain rules, all of which Edie seems to break. After being fired, Edie finds herself unintentionally living with Eric, Rebecca, and their teenaged daughter, Akila. The remainder of the story examines this phase in Edie’s struggle to build and maintain relationships with those around her and develop her artistic talent.
Although Edie makes questionable choices and seems to have difficulty understanding her sexuality, she unapologetically takes ownership of her body (to the extent she can) and attempts to find pleasure in using her body to make others uncomfortable. Edie is messy, intelligent, complicated, beautiful, disruptive, emotional, and real. Knowing that Edie has an affair with an older white man and knowing that Edie becomes a role model to the white couple’s Black daughter, I was concerned about a potential stereotypical representation of a young Black woman. However, Leilani does not put Edie into any of the stereotypical neatly packaged boxes that perpetuate racism and bore readers. At moments that could arguably be stereotypical, Leilani’s choice to utilize a stream-of-consciousness narration style allows for a deeper exploration of these ideas through Edie’s perspective. Leilani portrays each grotesque and beautiful moment that makes up this phase of Edie’s life with authenticity and without judgment. I was also pleasantly surprised to see the focus not only on the relationship between Edie and Eric, but also between Edie and Rebecca, and between Edie and Akila. However, at its heart, this book is about Edie’s relationship with herself.
The tone of the book involves dark humor, sadness, and loneliness with small moments of joyful escape. The writing style follows Edie’s mental associations and emotions through her memories and her ponderings on the meanings of the events in her life. Edie’s thoughts are matter-of-fact yet poetic. This debut novel is a work of art. It isn’t a story you read; it’s a story you experience. I would especially recommend this book to fans of Alice Walker, as it reminded me of You Can’t Keep A Good Woman Down. Although I would recommend this novel to all contemporary fiction fans, readers may want to be aware of trigger warnings for racism, police brutality, gun violence, physical abuse, abortion, miscarriage, and drug addiction.
Special thanks to our friends at Libro.fm, who provided a copy of Luster for me to listen to.
Follow Endya on Instagram to see more of what she is reading. If you'd like to read Luster and support Beausoleil Books, use the buttons below to purchase through the Bookshop.org and Libro.fm affiliate programs:
Jefferson Street Journal is Beausoleil Books's online blog for book reviews, news, and more!