This one’s complicated. I picked it up with the expectation that I’d read just enough to confirm my guess that it’d be too cringey to stomach – because it’s about a liberal Black woman and a moderate-to-conservative white man who fall in love. But I quickly found that this book is NOT a romance, at least not in any genre sense. There’s romance in it, and certainly some heady chemistry, but it’s way more nuanced than that. Through the lens of this problematic relationship (which will spike your blood pressure and keep it high, I promise), Rabess interrogates identity–both individual and in-group–in a really brilliant, intensely readable, morally complex way.
The big question here is: can someone’s care for you as an individual outweigh their lack of understanding/care for you as a member of an identity group? How does complicity in systems of power–the main character works in finance–play a role in that determination? It’s extremely tangled, and Rabess doesn’t provide answers. Just really adept storytelling.
Everything’s Fine by Cecilia Rabess, (List Price: 27.99, Simon & Schuster, 9781982187705, June 2023)
Reviewed by Talia Smart, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina