BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi [in Booklist]

Both the title and characters Gretel and Hansel might lead readers to make assumptions about Oyeyemi’s latest. Fairy tales fueled her Boy, Snow, Bird and Mr. Fox, and familiarly fantastical places, creatures, and themes abound here, too, although readers will also notice the easy weaving of superliking Tinder candidates, group Skype chats, and the PPA (Parental Power Association rather than the Parent Teacher Association). This initially straightforward narrative is essentially an immigrant, three-generation-family origin story.

In present-day London, teenaged Perdita, whose name means “lost” in Latin, overdoses on her mother Harriet’s irresistible gingerbread, despite her Celiac disease, and falls into a coma. When she wakes, Perdita insists she was attempting to reach Druhástrana – which might or might not exist, but nevertheless is the country from which Harriet and her mother, Margot, escaped. In order to move forward, the past must be exposed.

Making her aural debut, Nigerian-born, British-raised wunderkind (her first book pubbed at 19) Helen Oyeyemi crisply reveals mischievous adventures, mysterious journeys, and mythic revelations with such persuasive efficacy that the impossible quickly becomes plausible.

Review: “Media,” Booklist, October 1, 2019

Readers: Adult

Published: 2019 (United States)


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