Blackstone. Oct. 2020. 200p. ISBN 9781538556771. $25.99. F
Twenty-year-old Bianca Vogelsang’s troubled life includes a tough childhood in a large Latinx family in southern California, an abusive boyfriend, two abortions, and estrangement from her mother. She has been rescued numerous times by her half brother Matty, a comic book illustrator, and his partner, Handro. Bianca’s chaotic past, revealed in flashbacks, intrude on her current life with stable boyfriend Josh, who is guardian to his nephew and is working on a college degree in social work. Though understanding, Josh is puzzled by her fixation on a lifelike doll named Jubilee, which Bianca cares for like a real baby, lovingly feeding her and bringing her to family gatherings. Everyone accepts her bizarre behavior, blaming her past trauma. Eventually, Bianca moves forward, quitting her medications, earning a place in a writer’s workshop, and marrying Josh and becoming pregnant. Life couldn’t be better, but then an innocent question unleashes everything Josh has kept bottled up about his wife’s still clinging to Jubilee, and Bianca must discover whether she has the inner strength to overcome her dark history.
VERDICT From its heart-pounding opening, poet Givhan’s second novel (after Trinity Sight) leads readers into the dark recesses of Bianca’s traumatic experiences and subsequent healing.

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