A country you can leave

by Angel-Ajani, Asale,

Format: Print Book 2023
Availability: Available at 12 Libraries 12 of 17 copies
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Bethel Park Public Library New Books FIC ANGEL-AJANI Asale
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When sixteen-year-old Lara and her fiery mother, Yevgenia, find themselves homeless again, the misnamed Oasis Mobile Estates is all they can afford. In this new community, where residents are down on their luck but rich in humor and escape plans, Lara navigates what it means to be the Black, biracial daughter of a Russian mother and begins to wonder what a life beyond Yevgenia's orbit--insistence on reading only the right kind of books (Russian), drinking the right kind of booze (vodka only), having the right kind of relationships (casual, with lots of sex)--might look like.Lara knows that something else lies beneath her mother's fierce, independent spirit, but Yevgenia doesn't believe in sharing, least of all with her daughter. When a brutal attack exposes the cracks in their relationship, Lara and Yevgenia are forced to confront the family legacy of violence and the strain of inherited trauma on the bonds of their love. A Country You Can Leave is a dazzling, sharp-witted story, suffused with yearning, as Lara and Yevgenia attempt to forge their own identities and thrive in a hostile land. Compelling and empathetic, wry and intimate, Asale Angel-Ajani's unforgettable debut novel examines the beauty and dangers of womanhood in multiracial America.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Lara is nothing like her heavily sequined, chain-smoking mother, Yevgenia, who left Russia in the early eighties and has been nomadic ever since. Brash, always reading, and always complaining about the lack of intellectualism in the U.S., Yevgenia works as a waitress at a rural desert dive bar outside Los Angeles. Lara is Black--half Slavic, half Afro-Cuban--and, thanks to her latent Soviet mentality, Yevgenia sees social class as more pertinent than race, leaving Lara alone to navigate so much. This impressive debut novel follows Lara through her late teenage years as she struggles to make sense of herself, her mother, and her place in the world. Lara is an enchanting protagonist, equal parts skeptic and romantic. She dreams beyond the Oasis, the plot of mobile homes where she and Yevgenia currently reside. Lara's quest morphs into a journey to find friendship, then her father, and then what, exactly, her future might hold. Angel-Ajani's book is breathless and beautiful, and Lara is a gloriously brave American hero."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "In Angel-Ajani's piercing debut novel (after the nonfiction narrative Strange Trade), a mother and daughter are emotionally paralyzed by the fear of failing each other. After a childhood spent on the move, 16-year-old Lara is no stranger to starting over. So when she and her single mother, Yevgenia, a Russian immigrant, land in a dilapidated mobile home park in the California desert, Lara thinks she knows what to expect. Yevgenia, a bartender, leads a promiscuous sex life and pays more attention to her customers and Lara's friends than to Lara. Yevgenia's also full of opinions on Russian literature, love, and sex--all things Lara knows nothing about, despite continually reading the notebooks full of prescriptive pronouncements Yevgenia has compiled for her. Lara is convinced Yevgenia is ashamed of her for being biracial (her father, who disappeared from their lives, was a Black musician) and fears that following her mother's advice will mean following in Yevgenia's meandering footsteps. Meanwhile, a Black classmate jokingly discourages Lara from trying to find her father ("That you don't have a father is the Blackest thing about you.... And your obsession and longing for him is the whitest"). But after a man attacks Lara, she realizes Yevgenia's motivations are far more complicated--and that Lara herself might need to make difficult choices to set them both free. In perceptive prose and wry dialogue, Angel-Ajani brings to life a mother and daughter trapped by their circumstances. This is exemplary. Agent: Julia Eagleton, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Feb.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Racially mixed people -- Fiction.
Mothers and daughters -- Fiction.
California -- Fiction.
Publisher New York :MCD / Farrar, Straus and Giroux,2023
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description 308 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN 9780374604059
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