American Spy

Lauren Wilkinson has given me something I’ve truly never EVER read before: a Black girl spy novel.

I can’t even attempt to name a comparable story. I mean, when do Black girls ever get to dream of being spies, work for the FBI, and embroil themselves in an extra-legal plot to topple a government? The essence of the plot and the main character was an expansion of my imagination that I didn’t even realize was necessary.

But, there’s more. When do we ever read spy novels where the main character is not just blindly fighting for the “good” of America, but is also wrestling with what America *really* is? America is not just a benevolent superpower. America is not just the international policer of the “bad guys.” America is not just a good-hearted country that must sometimes undertake nefarious means to accomplish lofty goals.

America topples governments. America assasinates leaders. America kills other forms of government. America bankrupts already poor economies. America looks out for its own interests, whether those are “democracy” or just “we need easy access to the oil here.” America does things that many of us citizens will never know about, and some of us would never believe if we were told — or even confronted with the evidence.

And our main character, Marie, has to struggle with that. She has to deal with the conflicting feelings she has when she is charged with acting in “America’s interest” but sees that that interest may be contrary to those of a country full of people who look like her. Now, throw in a charismatic “dictator” and we have a damn spy novel!

I enjoyed this story. I will say that it could have been a bit longer and given me a bit more. I’m not sure if that is a testament to the strength of the story-telling, or if that means that Wilkinson should have crafted the story with a bit better finish. I *do* think a sequel is likely. Or, at least, I hope.


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