Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

Very well written, without fantasic elements. It’s a good look at whiteness and passing and how powerful and subtle its effects are.

Boy, the first POV character, is a runaway from New York in the early 1950s. Her problems are an abusive dad and trying to relocate with pluck as the main skill in your quiver. She develops interesting relationships with her fellow boarders, who are similarly vibrant characters. The double dating market was interesting, as were some of the part time jobs and other employment that Boy navigates.

Near the middle, we start getting a bit more from Snow, Atrutro’s daughter. It moved the fastest. skimming over the differences in life after she moves in with Clara and restarting mostly when Bird is old enough to write.

Bird’s birth is the big shock that reorganizes the family. The book follows bird pretty closely and does a good job with its young protagonist. We see Boy as a mom and can understand what’s going on in the background, even though Bird’s understanding is much more limited.

The tangle of relations all comes to a head at the book’s end. We even get the return of ratcatcher and navigate a strange new normal. The end raises hope of resolution and reconciliation… but leaves its form to our imagination.

I must have heard about it on NPR some time ago. It was very well written and a grounded introduction to race at the boundaries.

Honor Harrington #5 and 6 by David Weber

Flag in Exile (book 5) and Honor Among Enemies (book 6).

Still solid entries in the universe. Honor’s role is smaller in each of these books; more scenes are from eleswhere in the universe. The “elsewhere” elements in both books are heaviest up front, making it draggier to finally reach Honor’s part of the book.

Flag in Exile follows Honor’s forced retirement after her duel with Pavel. She’s not retired for long; this book is (partially) about her time running Greyson’s navy. But it’s even more about Greyson politics… it’s well handled, with a big fight, but much of the drama is political and scheming.

Honor Among Enemies returns Honor to Manticore’s navy and a much more intimate command. Several other ships from other forces are developed, including “good men undone by good deeds”–which was great applied to an enemy.