The Reformatory by Tananarive Due

The Reformatory by Tananarive Due

The Reformatory by Tananarive Due

Worth Every Minute

Adding “The Reformatory” by Tananarive Due to my list of completed reads for 2024 brings me a sense of accomplishment. Despite missing its initial surge of popularity in 2023, the book’s omnipresence in book-related YouTube videos compelled me to dive in, and I’m grateful for the experience. However, it seems I’m in the minority with my opinions, as the book has garnered high praise from many other readers.

Initially, I attributed my slow progress through the novel to its intense subject matter, particularly the stark depiction of life within The Gracetown School for Boys. Set in 1950s Jim Crow Florida, this institution serves more as a prison for young boys like Robbie Stephens, a 12-year-old black child sentenced after a confrontation with the son of a wealthy white landowner. Robbie’s ability to perceive “haints” (ghosts) adds an intriguing supernatural element to the narrative, offering a tantalizing introduction to Due’s storytelling style.

While certain aspects of the book were enjoyable, I found myself grappling with segments that felt overly laden with exposition, longing for a tighter narrative structure. The inclusion of chapters focusing on Gloria, while perhaps intended to enrich the plot, only served to slow the pace without contributing significantly to the overall story.

Despite expectations set by quotes from horror authors adorning the cover, “The Reformatory” didn’t quite deliver the anticipated thrill. This discrepancy left me somewhat disappointed, craving a more pronounced horror element throughout the narrative. However, I remain intrigued by Due’s ability to intertwine tough social issues with supernatural elements, and I’m open to exploring more of her works in the future.

Although the book fell short of being a home run for me, I found solace in its satisfying conclusion and appreciated the author’s recommendations for further exploration of historical context through other media. Ultimately, while “The Reformatory” didn’t fully meet my expectations, its blend of challenging themes and supernatural intrigue still leaves a lasting impression.

The Reformatory by Tananarive Due

Rating out of 5
# It Was Good
Book 38 of 80
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