I really enjoyed Improvement by Joan Silber, because it was unlike any other book I have read. I fell in love with the characters in this novel.
Thank you to the teams at ReadersFirst and Allen & Unwin (Atlantic Books), for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is a story about a young single mother living in Harlem and her eccentric aunt. They end up making some decisions that have unexpected implications to the world around them.
Reyna doesn’t have a perfect relationship with Boyd. She is beside him while he is in prison for three months. Their relationship became even stronger.
Kiki, Reyna’s aunt settles nearby, after an adventurous journey in Turkey in her youth. She admires her niece, but she is worried about four-year old Olvier.
Little does Kiki know that Boyd is pulling Reyna into a smuggling scheme, violating his probation. When Reyna refuses to assist and takes a step back, her resistance sets a series of events that affect the lives of loved ones and strangers around them.
Improvement is a book that intrigued me a lot! And it’s one of those books where you can’t really discuss the plot in fear of spoiling things. I feel like mentioning any other characters apart from Kiki and Reyna is a spoiler. It’s definitely one of those books you just need to go in blind, and enjoy every minute of it.
“The point was to ask for strength. Improvement wasn’t coming any other way.”
The book starts with a little bit of Kiki’s story, and then Reyna and Boyd’s relationship. Then a plot twist changes everything, and we have other character’s points of views introduced.
Kiki’s stories and adventures in Turkey are so colourful. Her beloved rugs and her courage never seize to amaze me. Her travels and the people she met all taught her something. The choices she made shaped the Kiki we know and love today. The cool eccentric aunt, with many trinkets in her small and crowded place.
Reyna’s innocent, but not so innocent life is beautiful as well, and her character development is beyond amazing and admirable. I love how much she cares about everyone. She is trying to fix the world, even though sometimes, the world may not need her help.
Very beautiful and inspiring!
All the other characters that we get to know share a personal story, each of them carry a burden, share love and worries, and care about someone. And to each of them, something happened, to make them be at a certain place at a certain time, and become the people they became today.
The novel is so wonderfully thought out, and it’s amazing how Joan Silber managed to capture this. How one decision of one person can change the life of so many, without them even knowing it’s happening. Get your “what if” questions ready, because you will definitely be wondering after this book, and for each character.
Improvement is definitely a book you should pick up. It makes you learn so much, even when you’re not ready for it.
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