Every character in this book felt so much like someone I’ve known. I have lived most of my life in southern college towns, where professors and liberal arts types live in tense bubbles amidst a sea of religious conservatism and working class anti-intellectualism. This familiar setting forms the backdrop of Lee Cole’s debut novel Groundskeeping, which is at its heart a love story between Owen and Alma, from two very different backgrounds. But more than a simple love story it is also a pitch perfect exploration of the nuanced ways race and class form the boundaries of relationships in these communities. I laughed, I cheered, I cringed with recognition, I shared the characters’ pains and sorrows, and I absolutely could not put this book down.
Groundskeeping by Lee Cole, (List Price: $28, Knopf, 9780593320501, March 2022)
Reviewed by Josh Niesse from Underground Books in Carrollton, GA