by Megan Giddings
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Pub Date 24 Mar 2020 | Archive Date 19 May 2020
HarperCollins Publishers, Amistad
NPR Book of the Year 2020
Electric Literature: One of 55 Books by Women and Nonbinary Writers of Color to Read in 2020 | Lit Hub & The Millions: Most Anticipated Books of 2020 | Ms. Magazine: Anticipated 2020 Feminist Books | Refinery29: Books by Black Women We are Looking Forward To Reading | One of The Millions’ Most Anticipated Reads of 2020 | Amazon Book of the Month Pick | Audible Editor’s Pick | Essence’s Pick| Glamour’s Must Read | Ms. Magazine’s Anticipated Read of 2020
A startling debut about class and race, Lakewood evokes a terrifying world of medical experimentation—part The Handmaid’s Tale, part The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
When Lena Johnson’s beloved grandmother dies, and the full extent of the family debt is revealed, the black millennial drops out of college to support her family and takes a job in the mysterious and remote town of Lakewood, Michigan.
On paper, her new job is too good to be true. High paying. No out of pocket medical expenses. A free place to live. All Lena has to do is participate in a secret program—and lie to her friends and family about the research being done in Lakewood. An eye drop that makes brown eyes blue, a medication that could be a cure for dementia, golden pills promised to make all bad thoughts go away.
The discoveries made in Lakewood, Lena is told, will change the world—but the consequences for the subjects involved could be devastating. As the truths of the program reveal themselves, Lena learns how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the sake of her family.
Provocative and thrilling, Lakewood is a breathtaking novel that takes an unflinching look at the moral dilemmas many working-class families face, and the horror that has been forced on black bodies in the name of science.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 84 members
What an impressive debut medical thriller! I practically speed read Megan Gidding's novel from the first page. It was a beautiful convergence of Netgalley approval and exactly what I needed to read on the same day.
Lena recently lost her grandmother, has a disabled mother, and is trying to complete her college degree when an invitation arrives asking her to apply for a medical research study that promises life-changing compensation and full medical coverage in exchange for a year of her life. For Lena, there is no choice to be made here, only the question of how long she can withstand (or survive) the questionable studies she and her fellow participants are forced to endure during their tenure at Lakewood.
I really enjoyed my reading experience with this one. Not only does Giddings' pace keep the pages turning, but she explores really important and relevant themes, even bringing past wrongs back to the front page. Through Lena's eyes we examine medical care, colorism, classism, racism, and family responsibility. Giddings deftly recalls the racially discriminatory Tuskegee Syphilis Medical Experiments, and others like it, of the early 1900's to show that medical discrimination is still a very real thing that Black families deal with every day.
There is nothing wrong with this book. The ending is maybe not what the reader would hope for but also not a bad ending at all. This book definitely comes with a content warning for graphic body horror, which I thought was excellently done, but also recognize that it is really difficult for some people to read. I definitely recommend Lakewood for thriller readers that are looking for a bit more depth.
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