There had been an accident on the green line.
I read the last line of this book, looked up and stared at the blank wall in front of me. What did I just read? How? What? The amount of loss I felt sank deep in my chest. My eyes became heavy. I placed my head in my hands to stop my eyes from tearing up, “Oh, Oh Muna..”.
This is what happens when you become invested in the characters in a book.
“In Every Mirror She’s Black”, explores the lives of three women, Kemi, Brittany-Rae, and Muna, as they are connected to one influential man, Jonny, in Stockholm, Sweden. It is a beautiful, complex read that tackles racism, immigration and so much more. There are so many layers to peel back. Some of the characters speak in swedish in the book as well. I found myself using google translate at certain points while reading it. I found this touch to be genius. I found myself holding the page open and typing in one letter at a time, “what the hell does this mean?” and that ‘oh’ moment when it finally translated, hit me. I assume the language is hard to learn, like Brittany and Kemi stated throughout the book. By incorporating the language, it really pulls us into their world. I’ve never been to Sweden, but the book sure did a great job of striking my imagination. I envisioned myself standing on the streets with Kemi and waiting for a taxi. I imagined myself in the office of Von Lundin Marketing standing in between Ragnar and Kemi trying to figure out what was going on between them. I wanted some of those cinnabon buns that Kemi indulged in.
Let’s take a look at the characters themselves because they all had a story of their own:
Kemi is a corporate “baddie” recruited by Jonny to be the director of marketing and inclusion of diversity at his firm. She is a powerful woman. Though she is a powerful woman, I didn’t find the character to be likable. Yes I did see a bit of myself in her. A Black woman navigating Corporate America and being the only Black person in the workplace. I’ve been there, hell, I’m still in that position. Sometimes I felt like Kemi spoke without thinking of what she was saying or she just didn’t care. She came off very harsh at times. Just as I wanted her and Brittany to find a bit of comfort in each other, two Black women in a foreign country, Kemi made backhanded comments towards Brittany. It just didn’t happen. I honestly do not think Kemi would have wanted to be friends with her. I didn’t even like how she was acting while having dinner with Tobias’ family. Something about her personality rubbed me the wrong way. Perhaps, she had this defense mechanism up because she was not comfortable in any of her environments.
A once model, once flight attendant that ends up as Jonny’s wife. I connected with Brittany the most throughout the entirety of this book. Something about her story reminded me of my own.
Jonny was absolutely obsessed with her. What stuck out to me was Brittany’s father stating,
“Privilege comes in levels, Brit,” he continued. “You have the privilege he has given you. But you will never have the privilege he has just because he breathes”Lola Akinmade Akerstrom, “In Every Mirror She’s Black”
He was absolutely right.
Brittany was constantly reminded of her being lesser than Jonny because of her blackness. Though Johnny fills her life with au pairs, chefs, all of these lavish things, deep down inside she was still uncomfortable. She wasn’t happy. She was trying to fit into this mold. The relationship she shares with Jonny was one out of complete fetish to be honest. Jonny loved Black women and Lola did a great job with emphasizing his desires throughout the book. I honestly didn’t think Brittany would have Jonny’s baby so that was a twist. When he found out that she was pregnant, I felt like he would convince her not to have the baby because of his status.
One of the key moments that made me see Brittany begin to use the privilege she had was the moment in which she gave the Au pair her baby to hold instead of her mother.
“I’m coming right behind you, Mom.” Brittany motioned over to the au pair to come get Maya. “I need a quick word with Jonny.” Beatrice nodded and then trailed the au pair, who was now carrying and burping the baby as she went.Lola Akinmade Akerstrom, “In Every Mirror She’s Black”
Why didn’t Brittany automatically give her mom the baby to hold instead of the au pair? I felt a disconnect here. This gesture felt as if Brittany was stating that her mother was lesser than her. She was letting “being” Jonny wife get to her head there, and her Dad quickly reminded her of who she really was later that evening. As he should.
If Brittany could not fully be herself, this marriage with Jonny wasn’t going to work. She was losing her identity and I wanted so much more for her than being Jonny’s wife.
Oh sweet, sweet Muna, a Somali refugee that ends up as a custodian at Jonny’s firm. I wanted to hug her, to help her. She experiences so much loss. She feels as if she doesn’t belong. She yearns for that belonging, somewhere but never gets it. I wish that the author had Muna and Kemi do more together. I wish that Kemi helped Muna in some way and build a relationship with her. I wanted more to happen with Muna and Kemi. There was so much potential with that relationship if only Kemi really took the time to sit with Muna and really see her. I felt that there could have been a beautiful relationship there. A friendship that both women desperately needed. I was so disappointed and devastated with how her story ended. I can’t stop thinking about it. It really has me in my feelings tonight.
Although I enjoyed the book and recommend adding this to your TBR list, I wanted a bit more connection with Muna and Jonny. I just felt like Muna didn’t really have that moment I yearned for with Jonny. He saw her, but didn’t really see her.
I honestly could not put this book down and I am still recovering from the ending as I type this. I also feel as if this book has the potential to be a series. There’s so much more I’d like to see.