Y’all, I am so excited about this month’s Fantastic Strangelings Book Club pick. Ready? (If you aren’t already a member I am officially inviting you because we have new spots open this month and our Spring books are amazing. Click here to join.)
It’s When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo.
Wait. Let me tempt you even further.
A mythic love story set in Trinidad, Ayanna Lloyd Banwo’s radiant debut introduces two unforgettable outsiders brought together by their connection with the dead.
In the old house on a hill, where the city meets the rainforest, Yejide’s mother is dying. She is leaving behind a legacy that now passes to Yejide: one St Bernard woman in every generation has the power to shepherd the city’s souls into the afterlife. But after years of suffering her mother’s neglect and bitterness, Yejide is looking for a way out.
Raised in the countryside by a devout Rastafarian mother, Darwin has always abided by the religious commandment not to interact with death. He has never been to a funeral, much less seen a dead body. But when the only job he can find is grave digging, he must betray the life his mother built for him in order to provide for them both. Newly shorn of his dreadlocks and his past, and determined to prove himself, Darwin finds himself adrift in a city electric with possibility and danger.
Yejide and Darwin will meet inside the gates of Fidelis, an ancient and sprawling cemetery, where the dead lie uneasy in their graves and a reckoning with fate beckons them both. A masterwork of lush imagination and exuberant storytelling, When We Were Birds is a spellbinding and hopeful novel about inheritance, loss, and love’s seismic power to heal.
And if you, like me, need more than one book to get you through the month here are the books coming out in March that I read and loved:
Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire (Poems of migration, womanhood, trauma and resilience)
Hell’s Half-Acre: The Untold Story of the Benders, America’s First Serial Killer Family by Susan Jonusas (Did you know that in the late 1800s an ENTIRE FAMILY OF SERIAL KILLERS were just hanging out in Kansas? BECAUSE IT WAS NEWS TO ME.)
It Eats What Feeds It by Max Hoven (a quick gothic horror romp – can horror be a romp? I say yes – graphic novel)
The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller (Necromancers and brothels. It’s a weird combo, but it works.)
Chivalry by Neil Gaiman (If you’re a Gaiman fan you’ve probably already stumbled on this warm-hearted short story about a little old lady finding the Holy Grail at a thrift store but story is reimagined in graphic novel form with the most gorgeous illustrations by Colleen Doran.)
And one more fantastic surprise to end with, Elizabeth Macneal, author of our February book is going to join us for a free zoom on March 19th to talk about Circus of Wonders so just check your emails to RSVP. As always, no worries if you haven’t finished the book because there are no rules in book club and the discussions and YouTube videos always stay open if you want to drop in later. But if you have read Circus of Wonders and can’t wait to discuss it I’m going to open up discussion on the facebook page right now and if you don’t do facebook you can leave your thoughts in the comments here.
Sending you love and gratitude for all of your incredible support. We recently were able to get a warehouse so that we have more room to fill orders and to do more community-based work and we could not have done that without you. I wanted to fill it with bubbles and invite everyone to a silent-disco foam party but apparently that’s not good for the books. Who knew.