There are two things you need to know before reading this month’s book club recommendation; one, I’m a huge fan of Stacey Abrams and two, the publishing industry probably isn’t what you think it is.
As far as being a fan, I think the work Abrams has done to protect voter rights is incredible and she has absolutely earned her Nobel Prize nomination. When it comes to the industry, publishers are businesses like any other. While we want to believe that it’s about the art and developing talent, it’s actually about turning a profit.
So, when Stacey Abrams first shopped While Justice Sleeps around to publishers, it was turned down. In their opinion, the premise was a bit outlandish and she wasn’t a big enough name for them to take the financial risk. But times have changed and now a story about political corruption and a US Supreme Court seat doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Add to that Abrams’s rise in popularity, and voilà, While Justice Sleeps is a #1 New York Times bestseller, and soon-to-be TV series.
But is it any good?
Honestly, I can tell you that it’s a good book and I enjoyed it. This is Abrams’s ninth novel (she wrote eight romance books under the name Selina Montgomery) and yes, it’s got the usual telltale signs of an emerging writer. It’s not perfect, but so what? It works. If political crime stories are your cup of tea, then you will definitely enjoy this!
I think my favourite thing about this story is how prescient it is. Stacey Abrams looked into the future and hit on four areas that became part of the political and cultural landscape. The unusual presidency, the Supreme Court seat, a focus on broad health issues (though not a pandemic) and yes, even interest in chess as a literary motif.
That’s pretty cool.
I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the audiobook version of While Justice Sleeps. Narrator Adenrele Ojo has quite a pleasant voice, but there are entire passages where each sentence is read with the same rhythm and cadence. That makes a 14-hour book hard to listen to.