Cover Image: The Last Suspicious Holdout

The Last Suspicious Holdout

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Member Reviews

**Thanks to NetGalley and Amistad Books for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.**

I've been on a short story kick lately, so I was excited to read this collection. However, I was really disappointed with how this book was executed. Obviously, short stories don't have the same level of character and plot development as regular novels, but these stories were written in a way that made it extremely difficult to figure out what was happening and even how the characters within the same story were connected to one another. Additionally, all of the stories in this collection were supposed to be linked, which could have been really cool, but because none of the characters were introduced with a good foundation, I just got more confused when characters popped up again later in the collection. Ultimately, this one didn't do it for me, and I think there are much stronger story collections that focus on similar topics.
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Loved the author’s 2021 novel The Rib King, and her brilliant writing shines in this collection of short stories. Hubbard can build a scene very well, but I preferred the long game of her novel plotting (which is a general preference of mine) but would recommend this collection. There were a couple of stories here that I would love to hear Levar Burton read on his podcast.
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"You live in a society that has the idea that one Black person is three-fifths of a human being inscribed in its constitution. A society that believed that because certain people were born female, they were to feeble-minded to vote. You live in a world where people believe skin tone gives them special powers, and that those powers somehow justify them to brutalize other people for doing something as simple as trying to plant a seed." Ladee Hubbard's "The Last Suspicious Holdout" hit deep with that quote, those statistics, the deeply rooted systematic racism and sexism that plague those of color. 

This book is set up as a collection of short stories, that can all be interconnected about a no-name town, "the southside", the "9th ward", gentle nods to setting location throughout the book. These short stories take place from 1992-2007, all encompassing the voices of the black community with the connection of the Equality Community Center. People should care about this novel because it points out the every day struggle that people of color go through trying to navigate this life, which is not something I generally have to think of as a white female.

The author speaks about the war on drugs, the lack of opportunities and infrastructural support, systematic racism, infidelity - every social issue is embedded. This book was a solid three stars from a relatively newly acclaimed author. I expect many more wonderful works from her. She has a in depth writing style and captures the voices of the black community well. Reading this book was like taking a walk through the neighborhood, chock full of characters you want to know more about, characters you love immediately, and antagonists that you hate. If you have ever seen the show Shameless, and you adore the Gallagher family - you will like this novel.

The short stories were thought provoking, vivid, but sometimes hard to follow. I am a character person and love a well developed character, which is hard to do in a collection of short stories, so my problems with the text are just that, my problems.
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The Last Suspicious Holdout is a collection of interconnected short stories centered in a common neighborhood and features a myriad of flawed, broken characters from all walks of life.  While some of the stories were written more than a decade ago, the situations and circumstances are timeless and cyclical: for example,  the challenges of single mothers, re-gentrification, the machinations of the prison industrial complex, the ramifications of the “War on Drugs” on impoverished and minority communities, etc.   These stories are grounded in real-world problems and issues – marital problems, rebellious youth, financial struggles, scheming politicians, etc. 

At its core, it is the story of a community – the good, the bad, and the ugly bits are on full display in each tale.   Most stories and their characters are not “happy” and some stories appear to have open/implied endings - but that didn’t discount how much I enjoyed connecting the inter-relationships between each story.  It’s hard to pick a favorite (although I loved the title story, There He Go, and Five People Who Crave Sauce) because each contains a character(s) that reappears or is mentioned in the following sequences or a seemingly random piece of information/mention evolves into a pertinent component in another story causing many refreshing “a-ha” moments.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an opportunity to review!
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Hubbard obviously writes well. While these are not happy stories, they are powerful and well-written, even though I didn't enjoy all of them (normal for a short story collection). Those interested in the black experience as well as good short stories will want to pick this one up. 

I really appreciate the free ARC for review!!
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