cover image The Lesson

The Lesson

Cadwell Turnbull. Blackstone, $26.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5385-8464-4

Several residents of St. Thomas weather the storms of life before and after the occupation of the alien species Ynaa in Turnbull’s rich debut novel about family, love, and loyalty in turbulent times. The story centers on Mera, Ynaa ambassador to the human residents of the Virgin Islands, who has hidden among humans for centuries, and Derrick Reed, her human assistant, who persists despite accusations of betraying his kind. Neither is a perfect fit for the worlds they come from, and the closer they grow to each other, the more adversity they face. When a Ynaa kills a young man and his grieving brother responds by assassinating one of the aliens, a terrible cycle of violent retribution begins, and Mera and Derrick must choose sides. Turnbull uses a beautifully drawn cast of black characters to convey the complexity of ordinary hardship in extraordinary times. This is an ideal story for fans of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and other literary science fiction novels. Agent: Martha Millard, Sterling Lord Literistic. (June)