Updated: Feb 25
If you’ve been following Miss Read Books on the socials, hopefully you’ve noticed our ✨Weekly Miss Read✨ series! Every week, I pick a book from the shop to read and review for you lovely folk. So without further ado, I present you the ✨official✨ Miss Read #SHELVED review of Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson.
Have you ever read a book that felt like you were nearing the end of a close foot race, seeking for some source within to find every drop of speed you can muster? That leaves you a bit breathless? That’s this book. In Trouble the Saints, Alaya Dawn Johnson‘s masterfully presented tale translates the ancestral trauma people of color have experienced in the US throughout the ages into their greatest gift — magic.
Enter assassins with *powers* that strive to carve out an existence of meaning in an alternative (but just as racist and sexist) 1940s New York. Whew!
Johnson delicately balances the pragmatic realities people of color faced in the time period through the voices of dynamic, nuanced characters. In this world, evil is a spectrum of choice rather than a condemnation of person. After all, can one be blamed for doing what it takes to survive in a world that tells them they are not wanted?
Trouble the Saints explores the intersections between trauma, happiness, and survival. Between the themes rises a concept I found to be a compelling draw — though we exist in a world of ugliness and pain, we are *all* still deserving of happiness if we make the effort to seek it.
Happiness is captured artfully by Johnson as the fragile concept it is — something that defiantly exists regardless of the circumstances surrounding it. We all have dark parts of our soul, parts we may feel are broken, unfixable, but Johnson paints an easily sympathetic argument — if trauma can be passed throughout the generations, why can’t love? Or possibly...revenge? Perhaps the collective love we share amongst each other, a love passed down between generations, is the only possible way we can heal from our generational trauma.
Trouble the Saints is a certified fresh ✨Miss Read✨! Of the many benchmarks of what I take into account when considering if I liked a book — a big one is how hard was it to put down? And so with that in mind I officially deem Trouble the Saints “pretty hard to put down” as in “I felt rather annoyed to have to do real life tasks instead of finish the book”. 😉