I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Netgalley but all opinions provided are my own.
In American Love Story Adriana Herrera takes two lovers and writes them into a world that wrestles with the questions that feel all too-familiar in our IRL life: what does “driving as a black man” mean and necessitate? What is the experience of living in the United States as a black man? And what does that kind of hyper-vigilance, strategizing, and of course, the anger, resentment, frustration, sadness, etc. engendered by both, do to a relationship between a black man and a white man of privilege?
Patrice is a Haitian refugee who’s lived in the US since the age of 6. Now a college professor at Cornell, he’s also known for his activism and is a well-known contributor to Black Twitter.
Easton is an ADA who chose the difficult life of a prosecutor, despite the fact that he comes from a very wealthy background. He cares about the issues that Patrice cares about, but he’s also mindful of his role as an ADA who doesn’t/can’t speak for his whole department and he’s self-conscious of his own uncertainty regarding what to do and say.
One year ago, they set the sheets on fire. Now, after Patrice has moved to Ithaca, he and Easton must face not only their baggage, but also the critical issues within the community that could very well divide them. Key among them is driving while black. Members of the local police department are stopping men of color for slight speeding incidents and then harassing and treating them offensively, and Patrice, Easton, and others don’t doubt that the events are racially motivated.
American Love Story is a romance that we need. It’s a story that really hits me, as I’ve tried to understand my own white privilege more and how my armchair outrage isn’t enough at the best of times, much less the worst. Easton means well, but he’s reminded (as I was) that that doesn’t really mean anything, not when people within a community are (and feel) targeted, threatened, and oppressed based on how others perceive their skin complexion—or on the basis of anything at all. As he learns, action is required.
Herrera offers so much wisdom within this romance, like this line: “A black man had to always think about the space he was in,” which smacked me right in the gut. She also tackles the topic of emotional pain itself in a stunning way, and none of those powerful words and ideas detract from the passionate and exciting relationship between Patrice and Easton, which moves forward with wonderful steam even in the midst of the turbulent events they’re trying to navigate.
4.25 ⭐️ out of 5.
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