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MONSTER IN THE MIDDLE by Tiphanie Yanique


by Tiphanie Yanique

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-59463-360-7
Publisher: Riverhead

A young couple falls in love in 21st-century New York City: Is it fate, or was their connection foretold by their ancestors?

We are the sum of the people who made us, Caribbean American writer Yanique tells us in her new novel. Their hopes and dreams may bear no resemblance to our own, may in fact be directly opposed to what we want and need, but their stories are the foundations from which we blossom. The idea isn’t new, but the gifted Yanique, author of Land of Love and Drowning (2014), shapes it into something unique and memorable as she considers the effects of cultural disconnection on desire and love. At the heart of her story are Fly and Stela, who will meet in New York City on the cusp of a pandemic. He’s a Black American, raised on religion and weed, with a mentally ill father and an ear for music; she’s half an orphan from the Virgin Islands with an artist’s eye who loves the colors of the sea and dreams of landing in the belly of a whale. A long and compelling road leads to their love story, one lined with mistakes, regrets, and other emotional flotsam. Potential menace lies everywhere, in a preacher who peddles a peculiar brand of salvation from a parking lot; a predator who slyly hides bad intentions; police officers whose racism and careless sense of justice are tangible dangers. What, then, is Yanique’s “monster in the middle”? She scatters clues with allusions to myth and magic, but interpretation lies with the reader. This author understands how we come to be who we are. “We all know it takes a village to raise a child. But I can tell you honestly that it takes an ancestry to make a man or woman,” says Stela’s stepfather. Look to your roots, Yanique urges us, and maybe you’ll see the outline of your future.

A rich and honest examination of family histories, cultural disconnection, and the way people fall in love.