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In Every Mirror She's Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström
Contemporary fiction

In Every Mirror She's Black

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström, on your first book!

by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström

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Quick take

This absorbing debut turns a mirror on modern-day Sweden to reveal the ins and outs of life for three Black women.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Tech

    Tech world

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Immigration

    Immigration

Synopsis

Successful marketing executive Kemi Adeyemi is lured from the U.S. to Sweden by Jonny von Lundin, CEO of the nation's largest marketing firm, to help fix a PR fiasco involving a racially tone-deaf campaign. A killer at work but a failure in love, Kemi's move is a last-ditch effort to reclaim her social life.

A chance meeting with Jonny in business class en route to the U.S. propels former model-turned-flight-attendant Brittany-Rae Johnson into a life of wealth, luxury, and privilege—a life she's not sure she wants—as the object of his unhealthy obsession.

And refugee Muna Saheed, who lost her entire family, finds a job cleaning the toilets at Jonny's office as she works to establish her residency in Sweden and, more importantly, seeks connection and a place she can call home.

Told through the perspectives of each of the three women, In Every Mirror She's Black is a fast-paced, richly nuanced yet accessible contemporary novel that touches on important social issues of racism, classism, fetishization, and tokenism, and what it means to be a Black woman navigating a white-dominated society.

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Content warning

This book contains scenes that depict suicide and abuse.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of In Every Mirror She's Black.
In Every Mirror She's Black

1

Kemi

America had decimated Kemi’s love life.

It had shredded her dignity and tossed its slivers into the air, cackling like a hyena. Relegated to picking up questionable prospects, Kemi was tired of wearing her invisible armor. A two-ton defense system that screamed to the world she didn’t need a man.

She couldn’t carry that weight anymore.

Lately, her dating life read like a dossier of shame. First, there was that one memorable dinner with Deepak. “I think I told you I’m a software developer, right?” Deepak began to overdose on his own voice twenty minutes in. Kemi simply glared at him. She figured his name-dropping his career the sixth time wasn’t worth a verbal response. The rest of the evening, Deepak intermittently punctuated his monologues with his love for “Black booty.”

Then there was the silent date with Earl, a white accountant from Ohio, who summoned visions of a serial killer. Earl kept staring into nothingness past her face. Each time he tried glancing her way, his hawk eyes floated down her cleavage then darted back to the intriguing void beyond her.

She wasn’t sure if he was shy or scheming.

And how could she forget the Jamaican real estate agent, Devan, whose gaze kept trailing every white woman who sauntered past their table while professing unflinching love for the sisters?

America had stretched Kemi’s limits and run her resolve through an involuntary boot camp. According to every dating survey she had ever read, she—a Black African woman—was the least desirable relationship prospect, alongside Asian men.

Those surveys said first choice was someone else.

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Why I love it

My favorite novels always begin with the characters. Are they memorable and believable, can I hope and laugh with them, do they teach me something new? Of course, I'd like an interesting plot, realistic dialogue, beautiful sentences, but I'll forgive the lack of any of these for strong characters. What an absolute gift then, that in In Every Mirror She’s Black we don't lack for anything at all.

There are three protagonists in the novel: Brittany, a former model turned flight attendant; Muna, a refugee originally from Somalia; and Kemi, a Nigerian American marketing executive. All three are Black women, who have or will be making their way to Sweden from someplace else. And all three are connected via a fourth character, Jonny von Lundin, a wealthy business owner.

This is a book with scope. You follow these women over multiple years; you see them struggle with their careers, their love lives. You watch them adjust to Swedish society, and encounter both classism and racism, which take the form of incidents that run the gamut from creepily subtle to hideously direct. And it is clear from the start that these are three distinct women—their individual journeys deftly illustrating the simple truth that Black women and their experiences are not a monolith. Brittany, Kemi, and Muna have very different values. They make different decisions and different mistakes.

I left this book having been moved, educated, and entertained. It is thrilling, disturbing, mysterious, sexy, and above all, complex. Brittany, Kemi, and Muna will live in my head for a long time, and I don't think you could ask for anything more from a novel.

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Member ratings (1,336)

  • Ali M.

    Dallas, TX

    Normally books with multiple perspectives are confusing, but in this one, the author masterfully intertwined the characters’ integrity and experiences in a way that drove the book’s central theme home

  • Alex G.

    Marietta, GA

    OMG!! I just finished this book and I’m trying to pick my jaw up off the floor. It was a beautiful story of three women all on similar journeys, following completely separate path. The ending… WOW!!!

  • Daija S.

    New York, NY

    This story exceeded my expectations! To simultaneously write three distinct voices that rarely intersect shows the author’s mastery of both language and narrative. A story both relatable and educative

  • Madison B.

    Novi, MI

    This book was a great story of three different women & the struggles they faced in moving to Sweden. I thought this was extremely well written & captivating. Can’t wait to read more from this author.

  • Andrene H.

    Brooklyn, NY

    Most of my reads are psychological thrillers, however I am extremely glad that I chose this add-on to read. I was hooked from the beginning to the end, and the stories of Mu, Br, and Ke will remain…

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