Hi guys. I know. Let’s just move past it! So today, I’m rolling out a new feature I’m calling Dear Author…. As I’m sure you can glean from the title, this new feature will be letters I’ve written to the author of books that I either loved or loathed. No idea if the authors will actually *see* these letters, but it’ll be a fun way to switch things up around here. Today’s featured author is Lori L. Tharps, newly published fiction writer of the “nanny” novel Substitute Me. I’ve reviewed one of Tharps’ nonfiction books here before when I started the 100 Books in 100 Days quest, so I was pumped to hear she was making her foray into fiction.
In Lori L. Tharps’ Substitute Me Zora Anderson is a 30-year-old African American middle class, college educated woman, trained as a chef, looking for a job. As fate would have it, Kate and Brad, a married couple, aspiring professionals with a young child are looking for a nanny.
Zora seems perfect. She’s an enthusiastic caretaker, a competent house keeper, a great cook. And she wants the job, despite the fact that she won’t let her African American parents and brother know anything about this new career move. They expect much more from her than to use all that good education to do what so many Blacks have dreamed of not doing: working for White folks. Working as an au pair in Paris, France no less, was one thing, they could accept that. Being a servant to a couple not much older nor more educated, is yet another. Every adult character involved in this tangled web is hiding something: the husband is hiding his desire to turn a passion for comic books into a business from his wife, the wife is hiding her professional ambitions from her husband, the nanny is hiding her job from her family and maybe her motivations for staying on her job from herself.
Summary via Amazon.com
Dearest Lori L. Tharps,
Hey girl! How are you? How’s el esposo? The kidlets? Your mom n’em? Everyone’s good? Fabulous! Sooo…Substitute Me is out! How exciting is that?! So…can we talk. Like I can give you my honest opinion and stuff? I can? Great! Here’s the thing…I’m a little upset with you.
First of all, who gave you access to my journals?! Outside of the nanny thing, I could absolutely related to Zora. All of her thoughts, fears, insecurities, doubts, etc? I have the same. Reading this novel (Zora’s sections specifically), I found myself nodding my head and saying “yessss” repeatedly. You accurately and descriptively captured the voice of many people in this society. Those of us who are unsure about what path to take through life next and desperately searching for something that feels right. Seeing our friends and their passions and being envious that they have found what they have been looking for as we still search. Taking a “just to get by” job and wondering how we ended up here in the first place.
Kate, Kate, Kate…oh my dear. I found myself feeling so sorry for her at times. I know moms who have gone back into the workforce after an extended leave to spend time with their kids. It’s never easy. Their jobs were way less high profile than Kate’s, so I can just imagine the pressure she was feeling. She manages to be both sympathetic and irritating at the same time, though. While it is valiant of her to believe she can have it all without something suffering, the reality of that is nearly impossible. That’s what irritated me about her the most. Well that and her mother. Gah, that woman. Such a minor character, but such a burr in my bottom, haha!
Brad. Ohhhh B.Rad (my nickname for him in my head). I was equal parts angered and enamored by him. Love that he sought out his dream much to the exasperation of Kate. Hate the method in which he went about it. Of course, I could somewhat understand why, but still…& the twist w/ him at the end? Did not see that coming at all. #whoa
I needed more Keith. I wanted to know more about him. I feel like he was a temporary distraction that could have developed into more. I found myself missing him though I barely knew him.
Lori. We’re on a first name basis by now, yes? Ok then. Girlfriend. Friendgirl. this book, This book, This Book, THIS BOOK! I found myself moving through it fairly quickly because I needed to know how situations were resolved, who did what & how, and the conclusion. After finishing, I concluded that we need a sequel. I need to know what happens to Kate, Brad, Zora, & most of all Baby Ollie! To quote the youth of today, “You did that!!!” I absolutely adored this book & hope others will too. I’ve already recommended it to a few friends I know will enjoy it. I’ll definitely be on their backs to purchase a copy!
Eagerly Awaiting the sequel, Replaced (haha),