cover image They Called Me Wyatt

They Called Me Wyatt

Natasha Tynes. Rare Bird, $16 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-947856-75-2

Tynes’s limp debut begins on Apr. 1, 2001, the 25th birthday of Siwar Sihaila, a Jordan-born writing student at the University of Maryland. She is pushed off a roof and dies from the fall. Three years later, Siwar becomes aware of herself as a consciousness in the body of a three-year-old child born the day that she died. That child, Wyatt, grows up white in American suburbia and eventually develops an interest in the Middle East, a romance with a Jordanian woman, and a compulsion to dig into Siwar’s cold case. As he turns 25, he becomes aware of his connection to Siwar, meets her friends and family, and seeks justice for her murder. Tynes does little to explore privilege, politics, or prejudice, and instead follows the steps of an amateur detective procedural as Wyatt attempts to find out who killed the woman whose consciousness he carries. The two halves of the story sit uneasily next to each other, and the prose is flat. The 2026 setting of Wyatt’s adult life is merely sketched in with mentions of self-driving cars and digital personal assistants. Readers hoping for nuanced explorations of Wyatt and Siwar’s similarities and differences, or even for a solid murder mystery with supernatural and futuristic elements, will be disappointed. (June)