Blue Hour

Highbridge Audio. Sept. 2023. 3:46 hrs. ISBN 9781696612807. $12.99. F
Harrison’s impressionistic debut traces the thoughts, memories, and worries of a 34-year-old Black Japanese woman as she contemplates grief, guilt, and motherhood. The unnamed narrator, a photographer and teacher, is untethered, recovering (or not, depending on the day) from the tragic death of her parents and sibling while being estranged from her remaining family. Then police shoot a young, unarmed teen from the narrator’s photography class, and he clings to life as protests rage. The narrator and her husband have been hoping for a child, and she has just discovered she’s pregnant. Now, even though she is buoyed by her husband’s love and faith in the world around them, as she visits her student in the hospital, she feels that this world is not a safe place for a Black child. Narrator Julienne Irons keeps the listener moving in, out, and through the narrator’s story. Her soft-spoken, clear, concise voice might be the only thing listeners can cling to, as the story is delivered nonlinearly, in a poetic stream of consciousness.
VERDICT A haunting, lyrical tale for listeners who appreciate the sometimes disorienting, intimate works of Jacqueline Woodson, Toni Morrison, and Raven Leilani.
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