Edwidge Danticat has been wowing readers since she broke onto the scene with her first book, Breath, Eyes, Memory in 1994. Now this famous Haitian author’s newest, 16th novel,Untwine, a tragic and captivating book about sisterhood, love and loss, is flying off bookshelves and revealing Danticat at her best.
Danticat is celebrated for her dedication to spreading awareness of Haiti’s history as the first free nation for Black people, her strong, distinct literary voice and her creative background blending non-fiction and film.
She has been hailed as the “quintessential American writer” by the legendary Junot Diaz. Robert Antoni has praised Danticat for “doing for Haiti’s history of violence and vengeance what Toni Morrison did for the US in tackling the horrors of slavery and its aftermath.”
With praise like that, it’s no surprise that Untwine is up for this year’s NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for Youth. Danticat became a MacArthur Fellow in 2009, snagged honorary degrees from Smith and Yale, and she received a nomination for the National Book Award back in 1995 (Philip Roth snubbed her that year).
But when you strip away all the prestigious awards and solely look at her work itself, it’s undeniable that there is no one that can write with the magic and sobering realism that Danticat can bring to a page. We at #TeamBeautiful got to read this genius’ latest work and we’ve got all the reasons why you need to read this book asap:
1. Danticat Takes A Chance
This famous writer is known for her adult books but she takes a different route by tackling the difficult, complex subjects of love and death to then reflect them for a new audience of adolescents. The book may be intended for your teenage kids, cousins and siblings, but it’s written so powerfully that you’re sure to love it, too.
2. It Was Made For Women With Twin Siblings
Or at least women with siblings that they’re really close to and would virtually die without having them at their side. The main character in the book grapples with her memories of her lost twin sister as she suffers in her dilemma of whether to keep on living or to subdue herself to a vegetative state. The process is grueling to watch.
3. It’s Got Something For Everybody
Realism. The supernatural. Romance. Humor. Tragedy. Inspiration. Whatever genre of books you love the most, Danticat gives something for any and every reader to indulge in.
4. You’ll Fall In Love With The Characters
The girl at the center of the book, Giselle, grabs you as a narrator. Her spirit is beautiful and genuine, and it serves as an outlet for Danticat’s fluid and lyrical prose. Reading Giselle’s memories of her family are visceral, bittersweet and heartwarming.
5. It Will Touch You As A Parent
No parent wants to think of their young children surviving them (or any of their young siblings or cousins). But Danticat’s depiction of Giselle being faced with a life without her family—and her response to the event—shows the inimitable bond that a girl has with her mother, father, and sister or brother. In the end, the connection the teenager holds with her blood relatives depicts the power of legacy and familial love.