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  • Writer's pictureHannah Zunic

Is This the Best Book of 2023?: A Review of One Blood by Denene Millner

Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.

Special hello goes out to Panama! It’s so lovely to see you. I’m glad you’re here. Please enjoy your stay, enjoy today’s review, enjoy all of RHRML’s other posts.

Bears waving.
Please enjoy your stay here at RHRML.

I’m back today with a new review. Got a lot of reviews coming your way these next few weeks. Today’s is a very special review. Today I have a review on an ARC I received from Forge Books. I won this book in a giveaway, but I still want to thank Forge Books very kindly for sending me a copy of today’s read. Spoiler alert, it’s a good one.

Please give a warm welcome to One Blood by Denene Millner! One Blood releases on September 5, 2023.

Book cover of One Blood by Denene Millner.

So let’s crack into it. As always, a spoiler alert is in order; you’ve been warned. I also must issue a content and trigger warning, this book does deal with some pretty heavy topics that cannot be avoided. For starters, this book begins in the deep south during the era of Jim Crow. Racism, like KKK level racism, is prevalent and necessary to the beginning of our story. There are also many mentions of rape, sexual assault, physical, verbal, and mental abuse. Again, these topics are the relevant to the story and cannot be avoided. One Blood is a great read but it is not for you if any of those topics are triggering. I highly suggest looking at other content and triggers warnings for this novel also. There’s a lot going on in the story that I feel I could have missed some things. And with that, let’s get to the synopsis.

Our story begins with Grace, a young black girl living in the deep south being raised by her mom and grandma. Her grandma works as a midwife and is in the beginning stages of teaching Grace her trade. Alas things go to shit as Grace’s grandma is jailed because of racism and her mother is no longer in the land of the living. Young Grace finds herself with no one to raise her, a town turning a blind eye to her, and a strong hunger setting in. The only thing she can do is travel north and hope a distant relation with take her in.

In New York Grace finds herself basically as an indentured servant to her aunt. Her aunt isn’t the nicest as you can see. She’s got no love for our girl Grace. Everything Grace does is subpar, she alienates the young teen, has no care about Grace’s education; Grace came from a loving household and is now in hell. Then she gets pregnant. And hides it from her aunt. And her aunt doesn’t discover Grace’s secret till she’s about six months along. And once that baby comes, Grace is on her own.

Literally on her own. Grace is kicked out and the baby is taken away from her to be put up for adoption. At this point the novel moves onto Delores. Delores is married to Tommy and together they adopt Grace’s baby and name her Rae. What follows is Delores’s story, her youth, her life as a young mother, her dreams, fears, her trauma, raising Rae and the fears she has for this young girl. Eventually the story moves focus onto Rae and her life as a mom trying to find a work life balance in the early 2000s.

Oh my god, this book is incredible. It is a behemoth, and I say that with love. There are so many intricate topics, details, and themes going on in this novel. It is haunting. I can clearly see that this book is a labor of love. One Blood is phenomenal.

Shia LaBeouf clapping.
Give this book all the awards

With that I shall bid you all adieu. I’ll see you all next week with another new review. Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.

Bears waving,
See y'all then, bye!

Just kidding, this isn’t the end of my review. I’ve got lots to talk about still. Namely characters and how everyone in this book is gray. What do I mean by gray? Good question. I mean every character is morally gray. In real life, no one is fully good or bad. The same can be said for book characters. And let’s be real, the best book characters are morally gray.

Not a single character in One Blood is fully good or bad. Everyone is in that gray space. Characters have just as many negative traits as they do positive. Save for Grace. She’s the closest this novel has to a character being fully good. But everyone else is in that gray space. For the most part, the villain of this novel is racism and sexism. There are definitely a few characters who act more villainous than others, but for the most part the characters are simply people. Honestly that should come as no surprise. This realistic of a book deserves realistic characters.

Standing ovation.
Have I mentioned that I really enjoyed this book?

Speaking of faults, I could only find one fault with this novel. That being the timeline/pacing. I’m not entirely sure what to call this issue exactly. For the most part, this story is told linearly through the eyes of Grace, Delores, and Rae. On occasion there will be a flashback scene. Some are clearly marked and others aren’t. It threw me off. I would be chugging along, enjoying the book, and then was suddenly 20 years in the past confused as to why I was there. It slows the book down, and while these flashbacks are relevant and necessary to the story at large, the flow doesn’t work.

Paris Hilton looking disgusted.
The only thing wrong with an otherwise perfect book,

Truly the only issue I had with this novel. The only other thing I can ask for is closure on Grace. I want to know where she goes after being kicked out of her aunt's home. I want to see what her life becomes. But I understand why the author doesn't give readers that closure. Seriously though, this book is phenomenal. It’s not the phycological horror thrillers I typically read and was a good change of pace for me. I loved this read. If you’re thinking about reading One Blood then do it.

Thank you once again to Forge Books for sending me a copy. I know I won this one in a giveaway, but it does mean a lot to me every time I receive any advanced readers copy of any book.

With that I shall bid you all adieu. This time for real. I hope you enjoyed today’s review and I’ll see you next week with another great review.

Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.

Bears waving.
See y'all then, bye!

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