Review of Blue Hour by Tiffany Clarke Harrison
The slim novel Blue Hour explores ambivalence about motherhood, unflinching details of the experience of miscarriage, relationship stresses, and issues surrounding race in a stream-of-consciousness account from a nameless main protagonist.
Sometimes I settle in to read a book from my lengthy To-Be-Read list without recalling much (or sometimes anything) about the premise, trusting my own past taste in placing the book in my Want to Read category.
In the case of Blue Hour, I missed the very clear note "A Novel" on the cover while downloading the audiobook in a rush, then I began listening to the book's relentless, churning roller coaster of hopes, dashed dreams, and strong feelings of ambivalence.
I initially thought I was hearing a narrator read a memoir. (This was likely at least partially due to the book's stream of consciousness, which sets a striking pace and tone.)
Harrison's nameless (fictional) narrator is coping with multiple miscarriages, fertility treatments, and the stress of these on her marriage. (Note that the main protagonist's miscarriages are described here in unflinching detail.)
She's a photographer with mixed feelings about the idea of becoming a mother, and when she finds that a student in one of her classes is fighting for his life following police brutality, her own fears about bringing a Black-Japanese child into the world feel exacerbated. Her disconnect from her (white, Jewish) husband in terms of her deep apprehension related to a future baby's race and safety in today's world is an added complication.
This slim novel (160 pages) explores the immediate, visceral experiences of trying to conceive a baby, of losing a baby, and the growing physical and emotional distance from a partner as losses and uncertainty mount.
The story takes a brief but powerful dip into the vast issues of race and policing in America, then the narrator is recognized for dedicatedly sitting by the bedside of her ailing student before a hopeful element for her own future is introduced later in the book.
I loved the way the main-protagonist photographer viewed others around her and pieced together what felt like deep truths from the details her artist's eye picked up on.
The tone and pacing are often raw and feverish as Harrison digs into complicated issues intertwined with worry and grief.
Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?
Blue Hour is Tiffany Clarke Harrison's debut. She lives in North Carolina.