THE ALCHEMY OF NOISE by Lorraine Devon Wilke

THE ALCHEMY OF NOISE

A Novel
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A social novel tells the story of an interracial liaison disrupted by questionable criminal charges.

Sidonie Frame and Chris Hawkins are not the most obvious couple—she’s a white, suburban-raised manager of one of Chicago’s hottest music venues; he’s a black sound engineer from the South Side. But when Sidonie hires Chris sight unseen for a one-night event, they unexpectedly hit it off. The chemistry is real and intense, but is it a good idea? “This is crazy,” thinks Chris. “What am I thinking? This could jeopardize the job. Complicating my life right now is not a smart move. She’s so beautiful.…Is it the best idea to get involved with a white woman…and my boss?” They end up hooking up and then dating, but as they attempt to settle into the rhythms of each other’s lives, they discover that there is a learning curve to interracial dating. Neither of their families is completely accepting, and both partners are forced to reckon with their own pre-conceived notions of the other’s race. Sidonie, in particular, is compelled to recognize for the first time the prejudice that Chris routinely faces and her own white privileges. It isn’t always easy, especially during a series of uncomfortable encounters with the police that threaten to disrupt the balance of their relationship. This culminates in Chris being implicated in a rape case, forcing Sidonie to decide what she truly believes—and whether the relationship is worth all the trouble. Wilke’s (Hysterical Love, 2015, etc.) prose is cautious and empathetic, probing at the edges of politeness, taboo, and uncomfortable truth, as when Sidonie’s mother reacts to the news of Chris’ race: “Well, I guess I had no idea that was something that appealed to you, Sidonie.”  The book portrays only one—fairly conventional—interracial narrative and does so in what some might consider a heavy-handed fashion. But the directness and openness with which the author explores the topic as well as its continuing relevance make this a novel that will still read as daring to many.

An earnest tale that explores the frictions of black-white romantic relationships.

Pub Date: April 9th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-63152-559-9
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: She Writes Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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