DiscoverComing of Age

Salmon Croquettes


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A heartwarming coming-of-age dramedy about an important chapter of Black history

This was a heartwarming coming-of-age dramedy about an important chapter of Black history. Told through the eyes of a preteen “tomboy”, we experience every confusing, triumphant, and terrified emotion of our protagonist Zayla. There is a range of topics covered — racism, police brutality, LGBTQ issues, and so much more.

The author takes you right to that time in the 1960s — the children’s games, the school bullying, the language, the communities, and the political overture of living in a volatile time.

Zayla’s voice and point of view are clear and striking, as she really comes to understand what it means to be Black:

“Even with my twelve-year-old understanding, I knew I was living in a city, surrounded by a country, filled with people who had a deep-seated hatred for me just because I was Black[…] Why not white people? Why were they excused from the terror of the Negro experience?”

The story is not only about Black history, though. Far more important is the intersectionality of lives — Zayla’s questionable sexuality and exploration were just as important as her Blackness; class and privilege are demonstrated beautifully; and the family scandal touches on issues of religion, mental illness, and prejudice.

The writing is excellent, and carries its pacing and eloquence all the way through. There was so much depth and breadth of character development not just for the main characters, but also for the families around them. Where we once despised Zayla’s mother right along with her, as the novel wound to its climax, we grew to love her as well. We even forgave those who harmed Zayla, as she grew into herself and blossomed beyond their negative influences.

Far beyond the theme of “race” within the story is the gripping honesty of the realities of life, such as when Zayla’s father explains to her why white people treat them the way they do:

“Because they can. They make the laws. They control the money. They make the rules and change them when we become hip to them. They own the guns. And worse, we believe they have all the power.”

This novel was an emotional rollercoaster ride with the fresh, acerbic wit of a young girl at its helm. It felt like a very real experience of a person who lived through that time. The hallmark of any good historical fiction is its ability to spark interest in the historical aspects, and I was thrilled to learn more about the Watts riots, which I found myself looking into after reading the book.

Knowledge is power, and history is important. I believe this book should be recommended reading for schools, particularly in Black communities. Even as the guns crack and the bombs explode, still there is a glimmer of the untouchable beauty of a gem in this novel’s words: Black hope, Black joy, Black love. I highly recommend this book to other readers, and look forward to reading more from the author.

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About the author

Glodean Champion can be best described as a "Renaissance Woman with Flair." She is a business leader, speaker, coach, and storyteller. Salmon Croquettes is her debut novel and she currently lives in Monterey, CA with her adorable Tibetan Terrier, Tashi, where she is working on her second novel. view profile

Published on March 24, 2021

Published by Black Muse Publishing

90000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Coming of Age

Reviewed by