Review: before you suffocate your own fool self: stories, by Danielle Evans

If this debut is any indication, Danielle Evans has a very bright literary future ahead of her. Her stories express not only a young woman’s frustration with the problems of racial and social inequities, but also the honest way in which the void of adolescent insecurities often overpowers even the most serious of those adult-world inequities.

The transparent honesty of Evans’ writing is refreshing. So often the literary world is confronted with jaded authors who, amid their arguments for equality, have lost their sense of self. One also encounters the occasional indignant writer for whom the sorority of adolescence is a mere effect of racial and socioeconomic inequities. What we have here is an expression of the sadness often generated by youth, and what is born of that sadness…who it makes us as we become young adults, and what we bring with us to shape our future.

Together, the stories map a course over the inconstant terrain of youth, from the uncertainty of a young girl at odds with her own grandmother to the discomfort of a young woman confronted with her youth in the form of both a younger cousin, and a past lover. Race and class are prevalent in all of these pieces, but they play second fiddle to the girl’s emotional journey.

On a personal note, there was so much of this work, of these stories, that I identified with as a woman, and I’m sure there are a lot of girls, a lot of young women, who will feel the same. There’s something universal about her writing Almost every story had something in it for me – whether it was as simple as the mention of a Friendly’s Reese’s Pieces Happy Face Sundae (of which I have eaten many in my past) or as complex as an older female relative who shuns the young girl. The collective effect is that of the juxtaposition of hope against hopelessness, the portents of this author’s promising future.

before you suffocate
your own fool self
By Danielle Evans
Sept. 23, 2010
Riverhead Books


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