cover image Blue Hour

Blue Hour

Tiffany Clarke Harrison. Soft Skull, $16.95 trade paper (180p) ISBN 978-1-59376-749-5

Harrison’s debut chronicles a mixed race woman’s harrowing journey through contemporary American motherhood. The unnamed narrator, who is Black and Japanese, deals with a litany of tragedies. When she’s 22, most of her family is killed in a car accident. She pursues a career in photography, and at 28 she marries Asher, a Jewish man who runs a clothing boutique. Though Asher wants to start a family, two miscarriages sour the narrator on the idea of having children. Her grief is exacerbated when Noah, a student in her photography class, is shot by the police, and she feels responsible because the shooting happened while her class was meant to be in session—she’d canceled it for a fertility appointment. As she surreptitiously visits Noah in the hospital, she discovers she’s pregnant, and her fear of having another miscarriage blends with a dueling worry of bringing a child into a world rife with police violence. In lyrical language, Harrison skillfully explores the complex tensions that gnaw at the expectant mother (“We hold our breath. All the way to the first, second, and third sonograms; all the way through sixteen weeks, we hold our breath”) and offers an intimate view of the couple’s pain. This signals the arrival of a brave new writer. (Apr.)