Sunday, May 5, 2019

Review: American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

Title: American Spy
Author: Lauren Wilkinson
Year Published: 2018


Genre: Adult fiction
Pages: 289
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map): USA (CT and NY), France (Martinique), and Burkina Faso

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): It's 1986, the heart of the Cold War, and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She's brilliant, but she's also a young black woman working in an old boys' club. Her career has stalled out, she's overlooked for every high-profile squad, and her days are filled with monotonous paperwork. So when she's given the opportunity to join a shadowy task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic revolutionary president of Burkina Faso whose Communist ideology has made him a target for American intervention, she says yes. Yes, even though she secretly admires the work Sankara is doing for his country. Yes, even though she is still grieving the mysterious death of her sister, whose example led Marie to this career in the first place. Yes, even though a furious part of her suspects she's been offered the job because of her appearance and not her talent.

In the year that follows, Marie will observe Sankara, seduce him, and ultimately have a hand in the coup that will bring him down. But doing so will change everything she believes about what it means to be a spy, a lover, a sister, and a good American.

Review: The inside jacket says this is inspired by true events--Sankara was known as "Africa's Che Cuevara." But how much of it is true? There is no author's afterword to let us know. If you read this blog often, you'll know I love it when an author links their work to real events and tells us about it at the end so I was a little disappointed not to learn the real life parts of this story. I did look up Thomas Sankara and he was indeed the leader of Burkina Faso in the mid-1980s and he was killed the way it is described in the book.

In theory, there is a lot I like about this book. It's about a mom and her children, her relationship with her sister and her separated parents, there is travel involved, there is intrigue, and it covers political issues. But, in reality, it just didn't really work for me and I can't put my finger on a specific thing.

The book deals with US intervention in Burkina Faso specifically, but really in general, and that is interesting to me. It drives me crazy that we intervene in the politics of other countries. I don't mean stopping a murderous crazy man, but orchestrating coups in the name of "democracy." I also love the cover of this book. But, these two elements are not enough to make this book find it's way onto my list of favorites.


Challenges for which this counts: 

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