Thanks to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Dutton for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: June 29th, 2021
Synopsis: In Hell of a Book, an African-American author sets out on a cross-country book tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Hell of a Book and is the scaffolding of something larger and more urgent: since his novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour.
Throughout, these characters’ stories build and build and as they converge, they astonish. For while this heartbreaking and magical book entertains and is at once about family, love of parents and children, art and money, there always is the tragic story of a police shooting playing over and over on the news.
Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? Will the author finish his book tour and what kind of a world will he leave behind? Unforgettably powerful, an electrifying high-wire act, ideal for book clubs, and the book Mott says he has been writing in his head for ten years, Hell of a Book, in its final twists truly becomes its title. (Goodreads)
Hell of a Book definitely lives up to its title! I started this Tuesday night before bed, thinking I’d get a few chapters in and before I knew it, it was 2:30 in the morning! This is metafiction at its best. Mott’s characters: an unnamed African-American author who’s on a book tour to promote his bestselling novel, Hell of a Book, and a young ten-year-old Black boy known only as The Kid, who may or may not be a figment of the author’s imagination, and young Soot, bullied unmercifully because of the darkness of his skin. There’s obviously a connection between them, but it’s quite a journey to get to what that is. To be honest it’s difficult to go further into the story without giving anything away. I will warn you that it explores quite a few themes that certain readers may have trouble with including: bullying, racism, and police shootings. There are some flashes of humor, especially regarding the publishing industry, but for the most part this is a reminder that we live in a country where people are judged by the color of their skin and Black families have to sit down with their children and have The Talk, to explain how to react if they’re stopped by police. It truly is a quirky, at times perplexing, yet always thought-provoking read that is perfect for book groups and upper high school and college literature classes. I guarantee that if you try Hell of a Book, you won’t soon forget it!
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