About mini reviews:
Maybe you’re not an audio book person, or maybe you are. I provide mini reviews of audio books and give a recommendation on the format. Was this book improved by a voice actor? Would a physical copy have been better? Perhaps they complement each other? Read on. . .
Seven Days in June by Tia Williams was just released. I grabbed the audiobook because the plot sounded similar-ish (in theme, anyway) to another novel I enjoyed, Love Literary Style by Karin Gillespie. Eva Mercy is an erotica writer whose series about a witch in love with a vampire has a hefty fan base. She makes a living off her series and is able to send her twelve-year-old daughter, who has the best name ever — Audre Zora Toni Mercy Moore — to an exclusive prep school. What Eva really wants to write is a book about the Louisiana Creole women in her family, who were like real-life witches, but that wouldn’t sell the same way.
Shane Hall is a capital-L Literary writer with four books. The problem is he’s never written sober. In fact, up until two years ago, he’s never been sober, not even when Eva knew him in high school, back when they spent seven days in June intimately connecting, embracing each other for safety, and separating for fifteen years. Shane shows up at a literary panel that Eva is on, and after they begin discussing what happened back in June fifteen years ago — and if they want to move forward together.
Williams’s book is a gorgeous work that I thought would be straight romance. I was I wrong and in for a treat. The writing is smart, snappy, and relevant. The references and language are so now. Audre especially stands out; she’s twelve, but incredibly woke. Ironically, Eva claims the prep school has taught Audre to dismantle the patriarchy, but she can’t find Brazil on a map. Mela Lee, the audiobook narrator, brings Audre to life with the perfect precocious voice, full of appropriate inflection and tone. When she’s reading Eva, Mela Lee has a rich, velvety voice that you can just eat up, one that makes you feel deeply what Eva is feeling.
As the book heads toward the climax, I was so sure I knew how it would go; I’ve seen and read a lot romance and rom-coms. You know the common tropes that we’re all thinking of right now. Williams avoids those and makes a unique plot that is satisfactory and still feels deeply like a romance novel with heart, grit, and commentary on the writing industry — who has to attend panels and book clubs, who gets awards, who has to churn out more content to be noticed, who gets to be an enigmatic recluse. The focus is black authors, “Black Literati,” Eva notes, and I love this emphasis on a specific writing community that encompasses all the genres. On one book panel, a serious male scholar argues that Eva’s books do not address liberation for “the Black man,” and I couldn’t help but wonder if Williams modeled the arguer after Ibram X. Kendi, whose serious nature and critical theory books make me wonder what he would say about a sexy fantasy series.
Highly recommended, a total “it” novel that has earned the buzz.