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Book Review :: We Are a Haunting by Tyriek White

Guest Post by Kevin Brown

We Are a Haunting by Tyriek White book cover image

Tyriek White’s novel We Are a Haunting follows three generations as they live in Brooklyn public housing. White shows the struggles of the family and the community, both in terms of the limited choices they have and the pressures that lead them to make some of those choices bad ones. However, he also portrays the joy so many of the characters find in the people who surround and support them, as they forgive old wrongs and work to make their neighborhood and themselves better. White also uses magic realism to explore whether his characters are fated for ill ends, as all three family members—Audrey, Key, and Colly—have the ability to see ghosts. Key crosses time, in fact, to speak to her son Colly well after she has died and he is still living, and she explains one of the family’s greatest problems: “Guess all of it stays with us. We’re a family of ghosts, of half-living.” Yet, by the end of the novel, Colly is learning how to make a life in a land that doesn’t seem to want him to have one, that views his and his family’s bodies as “reminders of toil and burden.” He’s learning how he can be more than a haunting to the place he loves.

We Are a Haunting by Tyriek White. Astra House, April 2023.

Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. Twitter @kevinbrownwrite or kevinbrownwrites.weebly.com/.

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