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Monster in the Middle by Tiphanie Yanique
Literary fiction

Monster in the Middle

by Tiphanie Yanique

Quick take

Many challenges confront a couple trying to survive in the Big Apple in this multigenerational novel about love tested.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Buzzy


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MarriageIssues

    Marriage issues

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Immigration


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Music



When Fly and Stela meet in 21st Century New York City, it seems like fate. He's a Black American musician from a mixed-religious background who knows all about heartbreak. She's a Catholic science teacher from the Caribbean, looking for lasting love. But are they meant to be? The answer goes back decades—all the way to their parents' earliest loves.

Vibrant and emotionally riveting, Monster in the Middle moves across decades, from the U.S. to the Virgin Islands to Ghana and back again, to show how one couple's romance is intrinsically influenced by the family lore and love stories that preceded their own pairing. What challenges and traumas must this new couple inherit, what hopes and ambitions will keep them moving forward? Exploring desire and identity, religion and class, passion and obligation, the novel posits that in order to answer the question "who are we meant to be with?" we must first understand who we are and how we came to be.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Monster in the Middle.

Why I love it

Tiphanie Yanique is one of our finest contemporary fiction writers, constantly making magic happen on the page. She is able to work between the most specific of details—a new mother's "breasts hard as two bags of rocks," a cop like a "melancholy Charlie Brown"—and the larger forces of a constantly challenging and transforming world. Monster in the Middle, her latest novel, traverses decades and hemispheres to tell the love story of Fly and Stela.

Yanique is also a master of form and technique. In Monster in the Middle, you'll encounter multiple points of view, multiple story shapes, including a critical take on Joseph Campbell's monomyth. What Yanique knows in telling this love story is that there is no hero’s journey that belongs to only one hero, and there is no love story that belongs to only two lovers. People and places and time and land and objects are all connected. Love takes much more than just a flash of attraction, it takes—first—survival, and then a good deal of circumstance, history out of one’s hands, in order to grab hold of opportunity when it finally comes.

In this book, you will find all of the messiness and self-deception and shame and joy of coming to know oneself, as Fly and Stela not only learn how to love each other but also come to embrace the possibility of being more than who they are on their own.

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Member ratings (381)

  • Marguerite W.

    Pittsburgh, PA

    This book is gorgeous, creating generational nesting dolls for the characters, giving their histories and impacts of those histories. She deals deftly with the pandemic in a fresh and empathetic way.

  • Kelsey M.

    Lacey, WA

    Stunning literary exploration of the trauma and history we each bring to a relationship. Loved all of the characters and the richness of the different voices.

  • Lydia P.

    Lincoln, NE


  • Tammy P.

    Simpsonville , SC

  • kelly m.

    Kansas City, MO