This is an excellent and inclusive story that crosses genres and target audiences to be a universal observation of love and the challenges it can face:
A timeless love story steeped in the classic legend of Tristan & Iseult/Isolde, brought to the modern streets of Brooklyn, sort of what West Side Story did for Romeo & Juliet though this time without the song & dance.
Bringing in aspects of high school politics, New York street culture, gentrification and Black Lives Matter juxtaposed with issues of class, hormonal errors and often with Machiavellian machinations akin to the chess games played throughout makes it gritty stuff. Shannon Dunlap was inspired by the original tale and a documentary about inner city chess teams and it is certainly a powerful read.
The language is expressive and flowery in places aspiring to the intellectual nature of our two leads, though a third voice of a local girl outside but entangled in the affair punctuates the three first person narratives. To be honest though it is merely the perspective that changes rarely the language and syntax to reflect the rhythm, syntax and nuances of the character which is a slight weakness. If I were to open the book randomly I would need to orientate who is speaking using the referred names and context rather than the narration itself. However this doesn’t detract from what is a powerful and thoughtful story.
The story is inclusive, two of the protagonists are of colour, Brianna is Latinx with Wiccan leanings and Tristan is mixed Black (Trinidadian and Cajun) which has its own issues in a predominantly Caribbean immigrant area and then Iseult is the former Upper East Side White girl brought by her hipster parents to Brooklyn as part of the recent gentrification wave. Issues of race, privilege and money are omnipresent throughout and important discussions as perceptions and perspectives are equally championed and challenged which is pretty much must read both sides of the Atlantic and not just by the young.
It’s a brilliant book I ploughed through in a day, there are some minor twinges for me but no deal breakers. I look forward to what Shannon Dunlap produces next.
#Nospoilers but if you are familiar with the legend or the James Franco & Sophia Myles film adaptation (yes!) you may be pretty sure of how this is headed.
- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Orion Children's Books; 1 edition (12 March 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1510104356
- ISBN-13: 978-1510104358
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 222 g
- Customer Reviews: 11 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 474,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)