American Spy

by Lauren Wilkinson, 2018

This was the last book selection for the Old Town Library Book Club 2021-2022 year. It was Jennifer’s selection. She is the one who so disliked Deacon King Kong, which was a most enjoyable, excellent book. She is the one who selected the book, Pachinko, a few years back, which I hated. I’ve learned that Jennifer’s taste is completely different than mine. This book was monotonous; I was asleep after every other page, practically. There was no richness of character or plot. It touched the surface only. It was set in 1980’s and 1990’s in New York City, Martinique, and Burkina Faso. A young black girl works for the FBI, goes undercover in Burkina Faso, discovers she’s being used by two supposed CIA agents, who are undermining a good leader in Burkina Faso in order to get contracts in Africa to build military bases. The young Black woman is writing her story to her two young boys, twins, that are age 4. That was weird. She writes to them in case she dies so they will know their mom when they are older. But it makes the telling of the story weird because they are only 4 years old and the subject manner would not be appropriate until they are way, way old. I found two things that were thought-provoking: “But I do feel sometimes like I’ve been trapped in an absurdist’s fever dream, and that if I couldn’t find a way to see humor in our lives, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed.” (There was no humor in this book, but I would like to look at the situations in my own life with more humor.) And, “Throughout my life, the most consistent way I’ve revealed who I really am is through whom I’ve chosen to love.”

This description of a place she stayed in Ghana (I think) was good:

“I arrived at Mole National Park in the late afternoon. My room had already been paid for, and the clerk gave me a key from one of the cubbyholes at his elbow. I crossed a grassy expanse in the direction of a row of two-story white bungalows, passing a dining room beneath a white roof with a series of peaks, like a child’s drawing of a wave. There was a pool deck beside it, the savanna and the sky beyond, and through the tall windows I could see tourists at the tables.”

I think she has potential. Every criticism that Jennifer said about Deacon King Kong, could be directed at this book. “I tried to like it.” “What was the point?” “There are so many characters!”