bOOK REVIEWS

UNspeakable THINGS

By Jess Lourey

Lourey’s taut family drama and murder mystery is a slow burn that raises your hackles from the outset and keeps you on edge until the end. Cassie McDowell is living the American dream with her parents, school teacher mom, artist dad, and teen big sister, in 1980s Minnesota. But from the outset, we see the cracks in her parents’ carefully constructed visage. As an author, what I loved most about this tale of family secrets and small town complicity, was the intimately drawn characters. Anyone struggling to understand character development needs to see how Lourey does it. She holds a clinic, plunging to scalpel depths to reveal the emotions, fears and dramas that lay underneath the skin–the parts of the human soul we hid from the world. Masterful!

IT’S THE TWELVE DAYS OF PARIS

…and this is what I’ve learned:

Trois voitures

Deux pizzas

and I know that orange is feminine.

With twelve days remaining before I set off for Paris, I’ve been hard at work studying French on Duolingo. I am officially in a panic.

Indeed, I’ve learned over two-hundred-fifty words. I can say “I want” (je veux) and “I have” (j’ai). I know how to say phrases, such as, “I have three cars” (J’ai trois voitures).”

But, I’m not certain that will help me check into the hotel. It probably won’t even get me a ride from l’aeroport.

What’s worse is when I get frustrated and my mind starts to search for the correct word or phrase, it defaults to the only foreign language it know–Spanish. And if you knew how poor my Spanish was, you’d know how much trouble I’m in.

I’ve been in love with the idea of Paris since I was a kid. I learned a lot of cool phrases while I was writing Jada Sly, Artist & Spy. The idea of creating an African American girl born in New York, who lived in France for five years, was like putting my own childhood fantasy on paper.

Sherri Winston on writing Jada Sly, Artist & Spy

The spy part, too. I always wanted to be a spy. (My mom said soon as someone tickled my tummy, I’d giggle and give up all the secrets. Mom was a dream killer.)

I’ve got twelve more days. That’s all. I can’t become fluent in the time I have left, but perhaps I can manage not to humiliate myself while asking for le metro.

A bientôt!

(That means “see you soon!)