Recently, I read Monster in the Middle by Tiphanie Yanique for book club. The novel centers on Fly, a Black-American man, and Stella, a Caribbean woman, who meet in New York City in the present time. It spans several decades, and its characters travel across the continental United States, to the Virgin Islands, and Ghana. The story follows the male and female protagonists and their parents in a non-chronological manner. Additionally, the book discusses mental health, religion, family dynamics, marriage, infidelity, identity, and trauma.
I was utterly unimpressed upon laying eyes on the book cover and reading the blurb. After reading the book, I can tell you that my first impression was accurate. As you know, I’m not a big fan of romance novels, and this probably caused my initial hesitation. I avoid romance because they are either too light for my taste or falsely advertised, and I would place this novel in the latter; it is not a romance!
The novel was lauded as an exploration of how personal experiences and trauma which occurred in past generations has influenced the current protagonists’ perspectives on love. Unfortunately, while this concept is intriguing, the execution is underwhelming. Although the book was well written, the plot was flat and too character-driven. That being said, I still had no connection with any of the characters and often lacked an understanding of their motivations.
The author spends a substantial amount of time on the back story of the individual parent and not enough time building the main couple’s chemistry. For this reason, I had a hard time understanding the attraction between Fly and Stella and, honestly, how they became a couple. The book would have been better if the author focused on the protagonist’s love story and flashed back to the parent’s narrative.
I was close to not finishing this book, but I did since it was a book club selection. I would not recommend this book, and it seems to me, reader, I’m having difficulty finding solid romance books. Any recommendations?
When was the last time your first impression of a book cover was correct?