A stunning debut novel of two girls raised in hardship, separated by fortune, and reunited through tragedy.
Fourteen-year-old Audrey Martin, with her Poindexter glasses and her head humming the 3/4 meter of gospel music, knows she'll never get out of Kentucky - but when her fingers touch the piano keys, the whole church trembles. Her best friend, Caroline, daydreams about Hollywood stardom, but both girls feel destined to languish in a slow-moving stopover town in Montgomery County.
That is, until chance intervenes and a booking agent offers Audrey a ticket to join the booming jazz scene in Harlem - an offer she can't resist, not even for Caroline. And in New York City the music never stops. Audrey flirts with love and takes the stage at the Apollo, with its fast-dancing crowds and blinding lights. But fortunes can turn fast in the city - young talent means tough competition, and for Audrey failure is always one step away. Meanwhile, Caroline sinks into the quiet anguish of a Black woman in a backwards country, where her ambitions and desires only slip further out of reach.
Jacinda Townsend's remarkable first novel is a coming-of-age story made at once gripping and poignant by the wild energy of the Jazz Era and the stark realities of segregation. Marrying musical prose with lyric vernacular, Saint Monkey delivers a stirring portrait of American storytelling and marks the appearance of an auspicious new voice in literary fiction.
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I wanted to like this book, but....
This book was more or less like listening to two strangers talk to you about other strangers for 12 hours. The story-telling aspect missed the mark for me. I expected much more excitement. The story would go on and on about the most mundane things. Even the dramatic scenes were pretty lackluster.
I'm not sure.... I may give her another chance.
She did a good job acting out the story and bringing out each character's unique personality.
I liked the characters. The author did an excellent job highlighting their internal conflicts, dreams, and insecurities. Also, it was well written. Perhaps I may have liked this book more if I read the print version instead.
- S. Clay