Milk Blood Heat

Grove. Feb. 2021. 208p. ISBN 9780802158154. $25. F
DEBUT Moniz has won multiple awards for her individual stories, and this excellent debut collection shows why. Focusing on marginalized communities and limning relationships, longing, and our uneasy passage through a world that often confounds us, she nails aching moments of naked human emotion in direct if luscious language. A woman unable to recover from a miscarriage is plagued by strange visions often featuring the lost child’s body parts. A teenager rebels against her pastor’s veiled aggressions, refusing to attend church while trying to help a troubled sibling. A man whose wife is dying of cancer must face her coolness toward him and his own shortcomings. And a 13-year-old Black girl struggles with a wayward white girlfriend in a story that ends in tragedy. While many story collections suffer from a sameness of theme, character, or plot, that’s not a problem here. The tales are generally set in Florida, but the similarities end there; each entry is distinctive in its premise, and each will surprise the reader in a different way. What gives the collection coherence is Moniz’s distinctive vision.
VERDICT Highly recommended; catch this writer early in her game.
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