cover image On Rotation

On Rotation

Shirlene Obuobi. Avon, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-320914-5

This engrossing debut from ShirlyWhirl cartoonist and cardiology fellow Obuobi captures the life of a third-year Ghanaian American medical student in Chicago. Shortly after Angie Appiah’s first boyfriend, Frederick, leaves her, she meets graphic designer Ricky Gutiérrez. He’s handsome and thoughtful, and they connect over indie music and anime, but she’s not ready to let her guard down, even if he already has a girlfriend and just wants to be friends. Angie tries to shake him off, only to have him pop up again when his friend starts dating a friend of Angie’s. Once Ricky’s single, Angie frets that a relationship might be a distraction from her goals and worries her overbearing parents wouldn’t accept Ricky for not being Ghanaian and for his lower economic status. At work, Angie’s research about the medical industry’s inequitable treatment of Black people is stymied by her adviser, though she remains determined to see it through. She also tries to set some much-needed boundaries with her parents, and is drawn deeper into Ricky’s life during a crisis in his own family. Obuobi is particularly talented at articulating her characters’ difficult feelings (Angie’s take on Frederick’s breakup strategy: “He’d been mean, when all he had to do was be honest”), as Angie tries to make the best decisions for her life. This effervescent story is a treat. (June)