In Every Mirror She's Black
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"A sexy, surprising, searing debut about love, loss, desire, and the many dimensions of Black womanhood."—Deesha Philyaw, 2020 National Book Award Finalist & award-winning author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
An arresting debut for anyone looking for insight into what it means to be a Black woman in the world.
Three Black women are linked in unexpected ways to the same influential white man in Stockholm as they build their new lives in the most open society run by the most private people.
Successful marketing executive Kemi Adeyemi is lured from the U.S. to Sweden by Jonny von Lundin, CEO of the nation's largest marketing firm, to help fix a PR fiasco involving a racially tone-deaf campaign. A killer at work but a failure in love, Kemi's move is a last-ditch effort to reclaim her social life.
A chance meeting with Jonny in business class en route to the U.S. propels former model-turned-flight-attendant Brittany-Rae Johnson into a life of wealth, luxury, and privilege—a life she's not sure she wants—as the object of his unhealthy obsession.
And refugee Muna Saheed, who lost her entire family, finds a job cleaning the toilets at Jonny's office as she works to establish her residency in Sweden and, more importantly, seeks connection and a place she can call home.
Told through the perspectives of each of the three women, In Every Mirror She's Black is a fast-paced, richly nuanced yet accessible contemporary novel that touches on important social issues of racism, classism, fetishization, and tokenism, and what it means to be a Black woman navigating a white-dominated society.
Praise for In Every Mirror She's Black:
"In Every Mirror She's Black is a wise and complicated exploration of the lives of three Black women in America and Sweden. Lola Akinmade Åkerström offers a sharply written story with messy, deeply moving characters, raising brutal questions and steering clear of easy answers. A book that will stick with you long after you've turned the last page."
—Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six and Malibu Rising
"In Every Mirror She's Black highlights the struggles of three women fighting to assimilate into a society that ignores their worth. These characters will pull at your heartstrings. Lola writes with a contemporary flair, highlighting the layered subtleties of the Black woman's plight. In Every Mirror She's Black will stay with readers for a long time."
—Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of bestselling novels Here Comes the Sun and Patsy
"In her debut novel, Lola Akinmade Akerstrom has given us a story that is at once enjoyable and disturbing as it explores the painful price millions of women around the world pay for walking around with black skin."
—Imbolo Mbue, New York Times bestselling author of Behold the Dreamers
Praise For In Every Mirror She's Black: A Novel…
"Åkerström paints an admirably rich portrait of a particular culture—its nuances, norms, and idiosyncrasies—raising important questions of prejudice, racial bias, agency, and belonging...A novel with thematic depth and complexity.
" — Kirkus Reviews
"As much a liberating battle cry as it is a searing, multifaceted examination of the hearts and minds of Black women navigating white-dominated spaces." — BookPage
"An engaging novel that presents the nuanced experiences of Black women from all walks of life. The author takes on misogynoir masterfully in this book that's never quite what you think it is." — Essence
"In Every Mirror She's Black highlights the struggles of three women fighting to assimilate into a society that ignores their worth. These characters will pull at your heartstrings. Lola writes with a contemporary flair, highlighting the layered subtleties of the Black woman's plight. In Every Mirror She's Black will stay with readers for a long time." — Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of bestselling novels Here Comes the Sun and Patsy
"In Every Mirror She's Black is a wise and complicated exploration of the lives of three Black women in America and Sweden. Lola Akinmade Akerstrom offers a sharply written story with messy, deeply moving characters, raising brutal questions and steering clear of easy answers. A book that will stick with you long after you've turned the last page." — Taylor Jenkins Reid, NYT bestselling author of Daisy Jones and the Six
"Beautifully complex and deftly drawn, Kemi, Brittany, and Muna are going to stay on my mind for a long, long time. In Every Mirror She's Black is a sexy, surprising, searing debut about love, loss, desire, and the many dimensions of Black womanhood. Timely and terrific!" — Deesha Philyaw, award-winning author of The Secret Life of Church Ladies
"A striking debut...As entertaining as it is revealing, Åkerström's novel has readers hoping that each of these women is able to break free from toxic expectations and achieve her every dream and ambition. Along the way, Åkerström also delivers poignant commentary on Swedish culture and the price Black women pay by virtue of the color of their skin. " — Booklist
"Through lively prose and spirited dialogue, Åkerström shows that for all the protagonists' differences, being a Black woman in a white-dominated society will inevitably lead them to the same fate." — Vulture
"In Every Mirror She's Black is an absolute must-read. From its relatable and three-dimensional characters, to its delving into racism and tokenism, to its unique and sometimes heartbreaking examination of the lives of Black women in a Nordic setting, this novel delivers an emotional punch. Kemi, Brittany, and Muna's lives come alive on the page. If you're looking for a novel that will stay with you even days after you've read the last page, then make sure you grab a copy of Lola Akinmade Åkerström's In Every Mirror She's Black. This is a very different and unpredictable portrayal of Black women's search for love and self, and it's pure magic." — Kim Golden, USA Today bestselling author
"In her debut novel, Lola Akinmade Akerstrom has given us a story that is at once enjoyable and disturbing as it explores the painful price millions of women around the world pay for walking around with black skin." — Imbolo Mbue, New York Times bestselling author of Behold the Dreamers
Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781728240381, 416pp.
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- We see three very different Black women in this novel. How do you think each of their backgrounds informed the choices they made?
- The themes of tokenism and fetishization are prominent in this book. Discuss how they each played out with the women and what impact that had on them in the book.
- There are many comparisons between Swedish and American societies. What did you find different about how the two countries handled issues of racism and sexism? Was there something about the setting in Stockholm that changed your perspective about the social issues tackled in this book?
- Kemi seems to make a spur-of-the-moment choice to move to Sweden. Why do you think she did this? How did her sister’s opinion factor into her decision?
- Jonny’s infatuation with Brittany borders on unhealthy, and yet there is a part of her that is drawn to him in the beginning. What about him do you think she found appealing? How did her past relationships factor in?
- At Brittany’s birthday party, Kemi awkwardly stumbles during their conversation and insults Brittany. Why do you think the author chose not to have these two Black women become friends?
- Muna experiences a tremendous amount of loss in the novel. What do her experiences show of the struggles refugees go through when displaced from their homes?
- Kemi’s relationship with Ragnar is unhealthy almost from the start. What does her final interaction with him show about her own growth and what she’s learned about herself in Sweden?
- Throughout the novel, Muna develops many short-lived relationships, with the longest being her uncomfortable acquaintance with Yagiz. Why do you think these relation- ships are transient, and what do you think the author is trying to convey in her relationship with Yagiz?
- Jonny’s privilege and the protection his money affords him ultimately become problematic for Brittany and her child. What do you think the author was trying to say about wealth, choice, and accountability at the end of Brittany’s story?
- Kemi, Brittany, and Muna only have one small interaction with all three of them on the page together. Why do you think the author chose for them not to interact more?