Saturday, May 5, 2018

Review: The Parking Lot Attendant - Nafkote Tamirat

The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat (Henry Holt & Company, 2018) is the highly intriguing coming of age story of an young woman raised amidst the Ethiopian immigrant community of Boston. Her world is one in which everyone knows everyone, nothing happens without eyes and ears upon it, and news and gossip travel fast. Our protagonist's mother long ago left her to be raised by her father, who like many dads is protective, devoted, but also hard pressed to relate to her. When Ayale - who is charming, older, and a successful parking lot entrepreneur - takes an interest, she falls fast and hard, and unknowingly becomes entrenched in a dangerous conspiracy.

I was first drawn in by the many aspects of the novel that make this story refreshingly different from other well-trodden journeys of teen self discovery. The novel opens with our narrator and father living in a mysterious intentional community on the island of B - . It isn't going well, and we immediately want to know how and why they are there. I most loved the heart of the novel, the backstory, set in Boston. Tamirat writes about this particular community with love and humor, from individual family dynamics to social and economic networks. Everyone is connected to everyone else, as wonderfully described in the father's immigration story:
"After three exhausting months, my father's mother found a heretofore ignored uncle, who had a daughter, who knew a hairdresser, who was on fairly good terms with a former radio host, who currently lived in a place or a condition called 'Fall River'. "
I also enjoyed that Ayale's parking lot business was one part legit, two parts hustle, and attracted a colorful cast of characters. The underlying nefarious plot was sometimes more challenging to get a clear handle on. Given the extremity of the danger it ultimately put our protagonist in, the details and the stakes might have been a little more explicitly conveyed. But this is a minor quibble. Most importantly, the novel got to my heart. The emotional chasm between the narrator and her father was achingly real; Ayale's magnetism was palpable, and their relationship convincing. Even as things started to go very wrong, I could not discount that by filling a vacant role in her life, he was essential to she needed to become. This tension kept me rapt, and reading.

Many thanks to the publisher for a complimentary review copy of The Parking Lot Attendant.

Happy reading!

1 comment :

  1. Your review has me wanting to read this book. Love the quote you picked out! Connections are everything when you are new to a place!


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