Cover Image: Lakewood

Lakewood

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Member Reviews

I found myself totally wrapped up in the characters. But then I came to the end of the book. It just did not mesh with what I had read up to that point. The ending seemed rushed. The overall read of the book was good. I would recommend to others. Thanks to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for the arc of this book in return for my honest review. Receiving this book in this manner had no bearing on this review.
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Lakewood' starts with Lena and her mother Deziree celebrating the life of Lena's grandmother at her homegoing service followed by a trip to the casino, where her grandmother, "Mama" liked to spend time with her large group of friends. But Mama's passing from cancer is made all the more difficult because she was more like a mother to Lena, since Deziree has been, for all Lena's life, plagued by a variety of ailments that are hard to define, and harder still to treat since their family doesn't have the resources for good healthcare. Then Lena receives an invitation to participate in a mysterious research study, the compensation for which will easily pay for Deziree's medical expenses and allow Lena to save for school.

The study is to be conducted in the town of Lakewood, and Lena is sworn to secrecy, forbidden to share even the existence of the study with her closest friends and family. Lena accepts, because she can't afford not to. But as soon as she arrives, she notices that the subjects of the research are almost all Black, and the "observers" are all white. But surely race has nothing to do with what's being studied. Right?

'Lakewood' starts like many a horror film-with almost pedestrian details of 'normal' life. And then normal is disrupted in horrific ways, many of which leave Lena questioning her sanity, her safety and whether she can trust even those people who appear to have her best interests at heart, or at least share those interests. This book was by turns suspenseful, funny, poignant, and sad. And even though the premise was fantastical, it felt tragically possible at the same time. 

I recommend it for those who like speculative fiction for sure, but others should read it as well because the scenario isn't at all speculative ... it's historical as well. A good read that makes me very curious and excited to see what this author will do next.
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While reading this, I spent an inordinate amount of time mentally begging the main character to just get out.  Seriously, I’d be reading, but my mind was just shouting:  GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT!!!!

Spoiler alert:  Lena didn’t just get out and I was a wreck!

And the author…oh, the author…she was devious.  She gave so many good reasons why Lena couldn’t just run away from all of this.  She puts the reader so thoroughly into Lena’s psyche that, truth is, we wouldn’t get out either.

I think that every reader of color will understand immediately what Lena is getting herself into.  As we read, noting as Lena observes certain small truths certain looks or turns of phrase, so much history just pummels us.   We get it.

I loved this book.  It was strange and surreal, suspenseful and thrilling, and speaks so much of our history.

Love.
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What a spooky, startling read. I devoured it in one sitting, desperate to find out what was going to happen - and feeling both satisfied and unsettled (and even a little unsatisfied at the same time) when I never *really* found out what happened.
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After her grandmother dies, Lena must drop out of college to support herself and her chronically ill mother. She's approached about a research opportunity that seems too good to be true. But once she begins participating in the research, lapses in memory and strange injuries leads Lena to lose trust in the researchers.

Creeping and dark and twisted, this is one of those scary stories that feels a little too real. I was completely taken in by this futuristic horror. The stakes were so high, and the intrigue so engaging. This book wedged deep into my brain and will live there for a long time!
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Review: LAKEWOOD

Serendipitously (but unintentionally) LAKEWOOD is the third consecutive novel with a female protagonist who having found herself in dire straits financially and hence pragmatically, is offered a position “too good to be true,” accepts, and comes to regret it. Even sadder is that all three heroines recognize intuitively how wrong the offered situation is—and really, one might say evil—yet, they enter in. In LAKEWOOD, our heroine is targeted not just as a “vulnerable,” financially distraught female as is the case in THE HAUNTING OF IRONWOOD and in 666 GABLE WAY, but because she is African-American. Despicable.
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This book is great! Would definitely recommend. Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
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this was a really good read, the story itself was great and I thoroughly enjoyed going through it. I look forward to reading more from the author.
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This book will shake you. Giddings creates a story that dives into the murky waters of medical racism and the lengths to which those in need will go to protect and provide for their families. The narrator, Lena, finds herself involved in secret medics trials that force her to question the motivation and intention of the work that being done, while also feeling silenced about the processes. Parts of this novel felt disjointed and hard to follow, but ultimately, Giddings presents a tension filled thriller that opens up bigger questions about society. Definitely recommended for fans of the genre, but a harder read for others.
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Lakewood was not what I call a riveting read in its pacing and prose, but it was interesting. This story gave me remnants of The Tuskegee Airmen and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It was a dark story, but what disappointed was the lack of sharpness related to these medical experiments on those who are of a certain race and class. I wanted those parts to be more matter of fact and brutal in its honesty. Overall it was a quick read and I do think it's worth reading for yourself.
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Lakewood kept me wanting more. More 
details about what happened to all the employees of the Company and clarity on what was real, what was made up because of the experiments Lena endured. (***includes spoilers***)

Lena is a college student whose Grandmother passed away leaving behind some debt. Her Grandmother played the role of her Mother throughout her life and now she has to take on a Mother type role to care for her own. Lena's Mother is dealing with an illness that racks up expenses and leaves Lena to take care of the household. Desperate for income, she signs up for what she believes is a research study and turns into a traumatic experience. 

When Lena received her first payment from the company I thought surely she was done. She could stop there. I wanted to believe the desperation that would lead Lena, a Black woman in America to not listen to her intuition throughout the book. She had clear moments to question her decision but she didn't turn away even after her Mother said we can figure something else out. This made me question the story. However, I've never experienced having such large medical debt that can lead to homelessness.

Lakewood addresses so many important issues being a caregiver to a parent, the inequalities in the healthcare system, Black women not being heard when their health is in question, and of course the awful "experiments" done to Black bodies in the name of science. 

What struck me most was this idea of repeating trauma. Generation after generation being preyed on because of a need for "fast money". It opens the importance of revealing family secrets to help prevent future generations from walking in the same path.

Overall, I really wanted more from the "participants" especially Charlie. The reader gets close to him and he vanishes. At times I felt confused about who was speaking, I understood the need to write letters to her friend to document the experience, but it didn't seem like an element that was adding to the story. 

However, it does stay true to the common thread of what's a real memory, what's been made up, etc. I didn't want to believe that she would return to Lakewood with her Mother after such a terrible experience. I do appreciate how their Mother and daughter bond seems to expand by the end. 

I know this was a debut and look forward to future work.
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Warning this review may possible contain some spoilers...





I received this book from NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review.  I was very excited to have early access to the book especially since I had done of video featuring Lakewood as part of my anticipated book releases for 2020. I also love reading books from debut authors and the book synopsis reminded me of many shows and movies that I have enjoyed. With all that being said this book was a struggle for me to read. I even put it down a few times. I finally started reading it again after I got the audiobook version. I needed that to help me get through this story.

The book starts out with Lena  and her mom Desiree following the instructions of grandma to celebrate her life by going to the casino.Who had just passed away. Lena and er mom are in loads of debt due to her mother’s medical bills, grandma medical bills and other miscellaneous bills and since she is a student she isn’t able to work high paying jobs. She is later received a letter in the mail to join a medical research study: unsure on whether to go or not she asks friends for advice and meets her friend Staceys brother Kelly.who has done a lot of medical studies and says go for it. Lena ends up going for it because she is received to make more money than she would at the minimum wage jobs. 

After going through tests, interview as and being injected with things she ends up being picked for the even more exclusive medical trial where she’ll have to live in a town called Lakewood. When she gets there she sees that all the test subjects are POC with the exception of one and the watcher are white. Cover story about town job and etc. I Where is that each time that she’s been tested is always have some appearances or remembering words or just trippy things happen. 

***SPOILER***
So Lena’s mother may have definitely been apart of these experiments when she was younger and around the time that she was pregnant with Lena. She lost a whole year of memory and I believe 3 years total. 
I saw so nods to Flint especially with the water situation. 

The last few chapters were mainly letters written by Lena to Tonya and that made it hard for me to remain interested. I really disliked the ending. Overall this was a good book.
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“Almost all the people--‘The Observers’--were white. All the study participants, Lena noted, except for an older white woman, were black or Indian or latinx. She kept her face neutral, filed that face away to process later.”

Lakewood follows Lena Johnson, immediately after her grandmother’s death, as she struggles to take care of her mother, pay for their family’s debt and current/mounting medical bills. Eventually this leads her to accept an offer to participate in a government run research study that will give her mother the health insurance she so needs and also wipe out all their money concerns… for a year of Lena’s life.

The pace was a little slow for me but Megan Giddings does a fantastic job of making you, the reader, lose your sense of reality along with Lena. What is real? What is a dream? What are the drugs? If you’ve ever gone down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, you know this feeling already. But the real horror in this book is that this could easily be a true story. Even the more fantastical elements are inspired by America’s history of exploiting and testing on Black and brown bodies, of turning a blind eye to those of us most vulnerable. Lakewood brings up mentions and echoes of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments, early birth control tests on mentally ill patients and low-income Puerto Rican women, forced sterilization by the US government and the Flint water crisis (to name a few).

“They would find out that this wasn’t just once, this wasn’t just in the past, but it had happened over and over.”
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I wanted to read this book when I saw it was compared to "The Handmaids Tale".  It isn't quite as intense as "The Handmaids Tale".  But I can see why they made the comparison.

This was the first book I read by Megan Giddings.  I enjoyed her writing style.  I plan to look for more books by this author.  It was a fast read that I was able to stay interested in throughout.
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4.5*

what a weird, strange book. like seriously. i'm sitting here trying to digest what i read. i stayed up until 4am reading until i forced myself to go to bed, and i had a dream about having my organs harvested and someone watching me in the corner. i woke up at 10:30am to continue reading. so if that isn't reason enough to pick up is strange book, i don't know what is.

i love it when a book completely sucks me in - form the moment i started it, i couldn't put it down. i actually started highlighting different quotes that connected to things that happened earlier. about half of the book is focused on the experiments and it goes in circles, but it feels like every word was purposeful. for example, earlier in the book Lena told a doctor that she preferred dogs over cats, and dozens of times throughout the novel, dogs were alluded to at the facility, living next door to her, out in the town, etc. it may sound silly to describe something a "mundane" like that repeating in any other book, but so many things in the book were repeated, or alluded to. 

one of the frustrating things is that there are no clear answers given - so if you're expecting to find out what happens to Lena and the others, you won't. there isn't any closure. in a lot of ways, this actually reminds me of Wilder Girls by Rory Power - but darker, creepier, and, for me, more interesting. the ways in which Wilder Girls missed the mark for me, Lakewood excelled. i think the intersection of race, generational trauma, and socioeconomic status added something so much more sinister and real to it.

jesus. this would be the perfect A24 film, lol. i'm definitely going to be thinking back on this book - i feel like there were so many loose ends that don't feel like loose ends. this is such a unique, disturbing book.
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A young woman suddenly finds herself the sole means of support for her family and must change her life drastically.  Held hostage by financial needs, she finds herself part of medical trials that seem too good to be true.  And as the saying goes.....
Woven throughout this story line are sensitive topics that are faced every day in the United States.  Be prepared to be emotionally affected.  A great story that you'll want to share with the people closest to you.
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Good debut novel about a government experiment on people of color. This novel is excellent at building atmosphere and setting and leaving the reader questioning reality and memory.
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The story starts out after Lena's Grandmother's funeral.  She and her mother take a trip to the casino she frequently went to.  later on she has money issues and has to drop out of school, so she decides to participate in a secret medical experiment.

Although some have said this story is similar to Henrietta Lacks, I didn't get that same feeling.  You may like it, I wasn't a fan of the story and it just wasn't for me.  

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  All Thoughts and opinions are my own.
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This book was a trip! A little outside my usual genres but very gripping look at race in America against the backdrop of government experimentation on humans.
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While I enjoyed the premise of the book, the execution ended up being just okay. I was invested in the story but I was always waiting for a little more.
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