cover image The House of Eve

The House of Eve

Sadeqa Johnson. Simon & Schuster, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-982197-36-0

Johnson’s suspenseful and thought-provoking latest (after The Yellow Wife) follows two young Black women as they separately navigate mid-20th-century America. In the fall of 1948, Ruby is a high school junior in Philadelphia who attends Saturday enrichment classes in hopes of winning a college scholarship and becoming an ophthalmologist. Eleanor, from a Cleveland suburb, is a sophomore at Howard University who is surprised by the campus’s social hierarchy, which is based on wealth and skin color. The lives of both women change when they find love: Ruby with the sweet, bright son of her Jewish landlord; and Eleanor with a medical student who belongs to an upper-class Black family. Unexpected pregnancies threaten the plans and dreams of both women, and heighten the tensions caused by the gulfs between them and their lovers’ families. Johnson methodically develops the women’s worlds and draws subtle hints at the similarities in their experiences, and after their pregnancies, they’re brought together in a bittersweet denouement. This well-crafted work is bound to provoke discussion among readers about the conflicts women face regarding pregnancy. (Feb.)