Book Review

Assembly

Assembly

  • Author: Natasha Brown
  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • Publication Date: September 13, 2021
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio

Thank you to libro.fm for providing me with an ALC of this audiobook. I am providing my honest opinion voluntarily. You can support local bookstores and access this book through my referral here.

CONTENT WARNING: cancer, racism, misogyny

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Go to college, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy an apartment. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going.

The narrator of Assembly is a black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can’t escape the question: is it time to take it all apart?

Assembly is a story about the stories we live within – those of race and class, safety and freedom, winners and losers.And it is about one woman daring to take control of her own story, even at the cost of her life. With a steely, unfaltering gaze, Natasha Brown dismantles the mythology of whiteness, lining up the debris in a neat row and walking away.

Although this is a short book, it’s one that packs quite a punch. It brings up some serious issues in an unflinching way, making them feel accessible to readers outside the scope of the narrators own experience. 

The narrator, an unnamed Black British woman, tells her story little by little. Pieces of her life are revealed in a jagged sort of way. It’s told somewhat sequentially, but there are some tangents thrown in. The tangents make sense though, they aren’t random by any means. It always felt as though the narrator was on the cusp of making some major changes in her life. I found myself wishing the book was longer, since I would have loved to see where she went in the future. 

The author delves into some really heavy themes in this story. The narrator discusses the lingering legacy of slavery and colonialism, her ongoing experiences with microaggressions as a woman of color working in finance, a field dominated by white men, racism, misogyny, the culture between her own socioeconomic class and that of her old-money upper class white boyfriend, and her health issue and how she’s dealing with that. She’s got so much on her plate, and it just felt like she was a shaken soda about to explode at any moment. 

This was a really short audiobook, clocking it at just under 2 hours if you listen at regular speed. The narrator, Pippa Bennett-Warner, did a great job of portraying the MC. She gave off the impression that there was so much under the surface, and that she was working hard to repress all her thoughts from coming to the surface by releasing them to us. It’s definitely worth a listen!

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