Size Doesn’t Matter (125): Out of Darkness; The Careful Undressing of Love

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (125): Out of Darkness; The Careful Undressing of LoveOut of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez
Published by Carolrhoda Lab on September 1, 2015
Genres: Historical
Pages: 402
Format: Hardcover
Source: ALA
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four-stars

“This is East Texas, and there’s lines. Lines you cross, lines you don’t cross. That clear?”

New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them.

“No Negroes, Mexicans, or dogs.”

They know the people who enforce them.

“They all decided they’d ride out in their sheets and pay Blue a visit.”

But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive.

“More than grief, more than anger, there is a need. Someone to blame. Someone to make pay.”

Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion—the worst school disaster in American history—as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people.

I grabbed Out of Darkness at this past ALA Annual in Orlando. Or, perhaps I should say that Out of Darkness grabbed me. The author had a signing, and I was walking past when one of the publicists pitched the book to me. I generally avoid getting pulled into signing lines that are too short, but historical fiction with a diverse cast and an interracial romance sounded way too good to pass up. I never would have found this book otherwise, and I’m grateful I read it, even though it’s super fucking sad.

A lot of the historical fiction I read falls more into the realm of historical fantasy, not in the sense of magic or anything, but in that it’s not necessarily trying to accurately portray the mores and awfulness of the time. Out of Darkness is the legit kind of historical fiction, racism and all. It’s painful and uncomfortable and really good.

Pérez uses the 1937 New London school explosion, to date the largest school disaster in history, as the backdrop of her story. I’d never heard of this incident, and it made for an intense and compelling frame story. The book starts with the explosion and then sets back in time to build back up to that point.

Pérez uses multiple third person limited POVs to tell this story. Wash, Naomi, Beto, Henry, and even the white kids of New London collectively called The Gang do the bulk of the narration. This style of narration did end up distancing me a bit, something I’m a bit grateful for tbh or I would have wept hardcore reading this book. Despite the distance, I really liked Pérez’s storytelling, because it allows for a wider view of the world of late 1930s Texas.

Pérez doesn’t shy away from anything. This book hurts a lot. I knew it wasn’t going to be sunshine and puppies (though there is a kitten, and the kitten lives), but I still wasn’t expecting things to be quite so consistently dark. View Spoiler » It’s very much true to the attitudes of the time without any softening or romanticism.

If you can handle darker reads and enjoy historical fiction, you will love Out of Darkness. This one was a Printz nominee, and it very much deserved that.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (125): Out of Darkness; The Careful Undressing of LoveThe Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu
Published by Dutton Juvenile on January 31, 2017
Genres: Magical Realism
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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three-half-stars

Everyone who really knows Brooklyn knows Devonairre Street girls are different. They’re the ones you shouldn’t fall in love with. The ones with the curse. The ones who can get you killed.

Lorna Ryder is a Devonairre Street girl, and for years, paying lip service to the curse has been the small price of living in a neighborhood full of memories of her father, one of the thousands killed five years earlier in the 2001 Times Square Bombing. Then her best friend’s boyfriend is killed, and suddenly a city paralyzed by dread of another terrorist attack is obsessed with Devonairre Street and the price of falling in love.

Set in an America where recent history has followed a different path.

Corey Ann Haydu has consistently delivered quality books. None of them are specifically books that sound like Christina books, but they’ve all worked for me. Haydu has impressed me across the board, and The Careful Undressing of Love is no exception.

The Careful Undressing of Love falls somewhere on the magical realism/fantasy border. It reads like magical realism, but it’s also set in an alternate universe. Instead of 9/11, there was a terrorist attack on Times Square. America, having no idea who committed this act, has changed the way that they view history; instead of giving attention to the perpetrators of violence, they honor and remember the “Affected,” those who died and lost people. The book doesn’t really focus on this, but it’s a fascinating backdrop and interesting to imagine.

The plot follows the Devonnaire Street girls, and this is where the magical realism kicks in. Devonnaire Street girls have something special. They’re beautiful with their long hair and the keys they wear around their necks. They’re also dangerous. Any man one falls in love with will die within five years, whether he loves her back or not. Devonnaire Street is a street of widows and strange traditions. The vibe reminded me a lot of Practical Magic, especially since that one also was built around a curse that would kill a loved man.

Beautifully written with a diverse cast, The Careful Undressing of Love drew me in, and I read it in just a couple of sittings. It was a solid four star read for me until the end, which I don’t really understand. View Spoiler »

If you enjoy fanciful reads and magical realism, Haydu’s The Careful Undressing of Love weaves a magic spell that you will want to experience.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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2 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (125): Out of Darkness; The Careful Undressing of Love”

  1. I’ve never heard of that event either, or that book. And I couldn’t help looking at the spoiler which I think is good because Holy. Shit. You weren’t kidding and I’m impressed you didn’t sob despite the distancing POV. Wow.

    Magical realism and I don’t always mix but I might check out Undressing; love that you chose a Practical Magic gif 🙂
    Morgan @ The Bookish Beagle recently posted…End of Year Survey 2016My Profile

  2. I’ve been on the fence about The Careful Undressing of Love but I’m such a sucker for anything magical realism. The alternate reality aspect makes it sound especially interesting.

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