Mini Review: Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

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.

25 comments

  1. I would like to sit here and say that romances are not my jam but I just finished an urban fantasy book that was high on the romance and I loved every second of it. So, I would be a filthy rotten liar. I do not, however, read a whole lot of contemporary literature. Being a mood reader really cramps what I read sometimes.

    Like

    • I liked how smart this book was. It didn’t feel like a romance novel. More like two feral people who knew each other when they were teens with horrible home lives who were separated and then meet again. And that little girl! So sassy and smart and fun.

      What was the book you just finished that you loved??

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the idea of the book, especially centred on a very specific subsection of the literary community. This probably isn’t up my street with the romance being so central, but I did enjoy reading your review!

    Like

    • This book was hard to review because I didn’t want to call it romance. It really doesn’t read like romance novel, the typical one you likely picture. However, the relationship is the focus. I found it polished and smart. Thanks for reading, Lou!

      Like

  3. I saw this book in the store and the description didn’t grab me at all but what you’re describing here sounds really good and a lot more complex and interesting that what I assumed about it.

    Like

    • It was definitely more complex than I thought it would be, and the audio narrator added some great depth to the voices. There’s stuff about chronic indivisible disabilities, single moms, generational difference with children today, addiction, the way different genres are treated in the publishing industry. It’s not smutty (though no judgment!) — I just mean it’s not purely a sexy romance. I’m glad this is a Reese Witherspoon book club pick because the description is hard to pin down, and it may not have gotten as much attention on its own.

      Liked by 1 person

      • For some reason when I saw the title and cover I thought it would be about the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests last June so then the description seemed really disappointing. I don’t generally care much for celebrity book clubs but you’re right that it’s nice when an endorsement like that can draw attention to a worthwhile book that might have been otherwise missed.

        Like

    • Hooray! I think this book would be a hard sell without the Reese Witherspoon book club seal of approval. Basically, it’s hard to capture how complex this novel is in a synopsis without making it sound like your run-of-the-mill romance. Those are fun, too, but this is not the same.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m very proud to have introduced you to Love, Literary Style which it would have been easy to write off as typical romance between two people with nothing in common. And your synopsis of Seven Days in June does sound similarly worth reading for the discussions about writing (I’m a bit iffy about the witches!). Unfortunately it’s not on my Borrowbox.

    Like

  5. I JUST finished this last night and I really liked it! It’s so smart, hot, fun, complex, relevant… and not a typical romance by any means. (But I do enjoy romances, a genre I have gotten into just in the last few years.) Feral is a great word to describe these two souls. I love that much of it is about (seeking) Black joy and not just Black pain. These two characters are a couple for the ages! I would love to see it made into a movie.

    Like

    • While there is some internal parts, Williams isn’t really heavy with characters thinking internally, so I can see it totally being made into a movie. Some books have a lot of internal narration and then get made into a movie, and it’s like all the good stuff was killed.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As a former precocious kid, I do enjoy and even adore precocious characters. I connect to their plight in very emotional ways. This story does sound wonderful. I’ll have to mark it on my TBR. I’m not big into romance but I do like some especially ones that go down a unique path. Wonderful review!

    Like

    • It’s so hard to say this book is about love but not a romance, not in the way we mean when we talk about the genre.

      The little girl was so funny because even her full name suggests she was set up to become someone amazing, and she takes that seriously. I was also interested to see what a woke kid looks like these days. I don’t have any children myself.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well I’m disappointed in myself that I haven’t heard of this book yet, it sounds amazing! I haven’t heard of this ‘black literati’ term, although spending time on twitter now, I can see exactly what it’s referring to. I think we need more sexy fantasy series, especially by more black writers because we just do! Love this love this love this.

    Like

    • The funny thing is the main character doesn’t even want to keep writing her fantasy series because she wants to research her family history in Louisiana. However, she needs that series money to pay for her daughter’s tuition. I think you’d really like this one, Anne, especially as someone who worked in publishing.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This sounds good!
    In regards to romance: I say I don’t read romance but I will read love stories. I consider romances where there’s a trope (enemies to lovers, fake relationships).

    Like

Insert 2 Cents Here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s