cover image Disgruntled


Asali Solomon. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-14034-2

An air of dissatisfaction pervades this unsentimental portrait of one girl’s rocky journey to adulthood, in an impressive debut novel from Solomon (following her story collection Get Down). Growing up in West Philadelphia in the late ’80s, eight-year-old Kenya Curtis is old enough to notice that her family is different from her classmates’. Her charismatic father gives speeches on philosophy, race, and religion at weekly meetings of a motley group called the Seven Days, but Kenya never falls under his spell as some of the Seven Days do. After a traumatic event, Kenya’s world shifts: she moves from a small house in the city to a big one in the suburbs, and from public to private school. The perpetual outsider, Kenya searches for her place in society as she bounces between schools, friend groups, and family members. Her incisive commentary is both arresting and painful, despite her ongoing dissatisfaction. This is a bildungsroman with a kick. (Feb.)