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Reviews for Rainbow milk : a novel

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Troubled by religious traumas, a young gay Black man struggles to reconcile his racial and sexual identities. In the wake of 9/11, Jesse McCarthy is 19 and living in the British Midlands; his parents, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, have dissuaded him from pursuing academic study, encouraging him instead to devote himself to the church. His mother, who's first-generation Jamaican British, is depressed and blames Jesse for her travails; his stepfather is White and has mostly given up on attempting to nurture him. As tensions rise at home, Jesse—an active and beloved member of his church community—is summoned to speak with the preacher: Not only has he been caught drunk and high on marijuana, but he's been accused of making a homoerotic remark to his close friend. Disfellowshipped from the church and thrown out of his house, Jesse moves to London with all the money he's saved up from working at McDonald’s. Independent of his family and faith, he's finally able to enjoy his sexual freedom. Eventually, after a brief and disastrous waiting gig, Jesse finds that he can support himself through sex work, though at an emotional cost. He yearns for the safety and comfort of a more permanent relationship. While compelling at times—especially when Jesse interrogates the nexus between his sexuality and Blackness—the novel sags with overwritten passages: long digressions into music, repetitive sex scenes, mundanities described in excessive detail. The pace drags, with key scenes lost in the midst of less significant ones. Structurally, the novel is confused and inconsistent. The events of the moving first section, about a Windrush generation Jamaican family immigrating to a brutally racist Britain in the early 1950s, don't figure into the novel until the final quarter, when narrative threads about Jesse’s past are hastily (and messily) tied up. Moving at times but not well executed. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.