cover image I Love You So Much It’s Killing Us Both

I Love You So Much It’s Killing Us Both

Mariah Stovall. Soft Skull, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-1-59376-760-0

Literary agent Stovall debuts with the penetrating story of an erstwhile friendship. Khaki Oliver, who is Black, and Fiona Davies, who is white, last spoke to each other a decade ago. In the present day, Khaki receives an invitation to Fiona’s baby shower for her adopted Black daughter. As Khaki waffles on whether to attend, she plans a mixtape of punk songs from her adolescence. While playing the records, she remembers her and Fiona’s frenzied days as high school outcasts in New Jersey and their split after Khaki left for college in Los Angeles. Stovall devotes many pages to the nuances of punk’s many subgenres as Khaki navigates the punk scene in L.A., where she develops an eating disorder and feels a growing resentment over Fiona never visiting her there. As the narration winds back to the present, Stovall elucidates the reasons behind the friends’ break and reveals what they still have in common. The meandering narrative starts off slow, but it’s lifted by Stovall’s irony-spiked odes to an impassioned, punk-tinged youth (one band’s vocalist “flip-flop[s] between shouting diatribes against the military industrial complex and belting broken-hearted love songs with a twang”). Patient readers will find plenty of rewards. (Feb.)