Who likes creepy crawly books? If you do, I definitely have one for you! Lakewood is the debut novel from Megan Giddings and let me tell you, you’ll definitely want to order this one and keep an eye out for her next book. She’s going to be a very amazing author, I can already feel it. I read Lakewood via audiobook on Scribd and I loved it SO MUCH that I ended up ordering the physical copy from my local independent bookstore. #SupportIndieBookStores. Anyway, Lakewood is all about this young Black woman who is grieving the loss of her grandmother. Her grandmother died, leaving behind a trail of debt, and our protagonist, Lena Johnson, signs up for this secretive and experimental government sponsored research program in order to pay off her family debts. But the experiments keep getting more and more dangerous, she’s losing her memory, she signed away her life to this company and can’t talk about it with her friends and family, and becomes more and more afraid for her life with every passing moment. Will she be able to continue the experiment while surviving? Is the money worth it? What would you go through for a million dollars?
Whew, child, when I say this book left me creeped out but also gave me LOTS to think about, I really mean it. It tackles mental health, family struggles, and the cycles of poverty in Black families. How do we escape poverty when our own government ghettoized our neighborhoods to ensure we won’t be able to reach beyond the boundaries of our own ‘hoods? And if you’re not already aware—because the American history textbooks love to leave this out—there’s a LONG history of medical experimentation on Black people. Often times, these experiments were done using manipulation, luring unsuspecting Black folks into dangerous experimental programs with the promise of money. These Black folks were financially destitute and struggling to feed their families, so they agreed. But many of them died, developed cancer, or grew to live with lifelong disabilities as a result of these heinous experiments. Look into the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments if you don’t know what I’m talking about. The U.S. government literally injected Black people with syphilis without even telling them and let the disease spread in Black communities just to see how it worked.
Anyway, Lakewood seeks to address this evil history of coerced (being tricked into) experiments on Black people and many Black people to this day are still forced to sign up for risky experiments simply because they don’t have other, safer, alternatives to make money. Lakewood is a must read. I want it in every freaking classroom and on every freaking bookshelf! Plus the writing is GOOD, it can be abstract and creepy at times, and the horror in the book is delicious. I recommend this for high schoolers and anyone above that age!
*Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
By Jesse E