Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

2024 is the tenth year of the Read Harder Challenge! Join us as we make our way through 24 tasks meant to expand our reading horizons and diversify our TBRs. To get book recommendations for each task, sign up for the Read Harder newsletter. We’ll also keep you informed about other cool reading challenges, readathons, and more across the bookish internet. If you become a paid subscriber, you get even more recommendations plus community features, where you can connect with a community of passionate, like-minded readers in a cozy and supportive corner of the internet. Sign up today!

Today’s pick is a book that has sat on my shelves for a few years and undergone a few moves because I was determined to get to it eventually, and then when I finally read it, I couldn’t believe I’d let it go that long. If you like messy protagonists, complicated relationships, and stories with a big heart, this is a book for you!

Skye Falling cover

Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie

Skye is in her late thirties, and she owns her own business, leading international travel tours for Black women. She spends most of her life on the road and only comes back to her hometown of Philadelphia a few times each year to crash with her oldest friend. While she’s on one of her sporadic trips home, she is shocked when a 12-year-old girl named Vicky approaches her and reveals that she is the result of an egg that Skye donated to a one-time friend with infertility over a decade ago. As if this isn’t jarring enough, Vicky clearly wants a relationship with Skye, and Vicky’s aunt Faye is the woman that Skye recently tried (and failed) to pick up. Although she’s always been more of a cut-and-run type, Skye decides to stick around and see what happens when she takes a chance on getting to know someone.

This book is a truly laugh out loud funny story, and Skye is a really charismatic person — the type of person you definitely want to be friends with, and who always has wild stories, but whose judgment when it comes to relationships (familial, platonic, and romantic) may not be the best. Despite this, I was rooting so hard for her when she decided to stick around Philadelphia and attempt to relate to a kid that she doesn’t know, but nonetheless shares a unique bond with. There is really nothing maternal about Skye, and she makes it clear to Vicky that she can’t be her mom, but that’s why it’s such a joy (and sometimes very hilarious) to watch her learn how to relate to Vicky as an older cousin/aunt/friend/egg donor while also re-examining (and not always liking what she sees) all of her relationships, from her oldest friendships to her fragile relationship with her mom and sometimes contentious connection with her brother.

One thing that I really enjoyed was how well McKenzie brings the Philadelphia setting to life. She writes about the neighborhoods that Skye and Vicky haunt with such loving, affectionate detail, and she details how dizzying Skye finds it when beloved landmarks get lost to gentrification. I’ve never spent much time in Philadelphia, but the setting felt so real it made me want to visit right away. McKenzie also touches upon issues of police violence and the implication of gentrification beyond losing beloved bars and shops and how these things affect the day-to-day lives of the characters. It provides moments of growth as Skye realizes that Vicky isn’t just a cool little friend she hangs out with but someone she begins to feel a responsibility for, and for the first time in her life, that responsibility can be a positive thing. The longer Skye stays in Philadelphia, connecting with Vicky and crushing on her aunt, the more Skye has to face that she has deep connections to her hometown, and jetting off to Brazil or adding another stamp to her passport isn’t a fix when things get tough. McKenzie balances the serious with the humor so well, and I inhaled this delightful book in about two days.

Happy reading!

Find me on Book Riot, Hey YA, All the Books, and Instagram. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, click here to subscribe.