cover image The Women Could Fly

The Women Could Fly

Megan Giddings. Amistad, $26.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-311699-3

Giddings (Lakewood) pulls off a dynamite story of a Black woman’s resistance in an oppressive dystopia. Jo Thomas’s mother, Tiana, has been declared dead after having been missing for 14 years. At 28, the age at which all women must marry or register with the Bureau of Witchcraft, Jo works at the Museum of Cursed Art and is in love with her white best friend, Angie. Tiana taught Jo as a girl that magic wasn’t real, but rather a myth to enable oppressions of women and non-cisgender people. Jo is set to inherit a large sum from Tiana on the condition that she agrees to visit an island in Lake Superior, which, according to a story Tiana once told her, only appears once every seven years. The instructions remind her of a story her mother told her as a child, about an island with a treasure. Though Jo doesn’t want to leave her sometimes-boyfriend Preston, or her job and Angie, she complies, and upon returning is promptly imprisoned for suspected witchcraft. When Preston promises to take custody of Jo, as required by law, the two enter a tender phase of their relationship. But after the island’s secrets leak into the real world, Jo is imprisoned again. Giddings ingeniously blends her harrowing parable of an all-powerful patriarchy with insights into racial imbalances, such as a scene in which Jo and Angie are pulled over by the cops (“I wanted the ease of feeling protected and beautiful enough to try to make a joke, to not have my hands on the dashboard, to not text someone pulled over by cops, please call in 15 minutes if you don’t hear from me again”). This is brilliant. Agent: Don Conway, Writers House. (Aug.)