I have to give Helen Oyeyemi props for her inventiveness in Gingerbread. The book is completely and utterly unique, following three generations of Lee women, Margot and Harriett who left the fantastical and possibly mythical country Druhástrana, and Perdita, born in the UK, but wanting to return to her mother and grandmother’s homeland. The elder women were able to escape under the patronage of Aristide Kercheval, and the two families’ entanglement creates tensions that reverberate into the present and threaten Perdita’s safety. Meanwhile, the book throws shade on capitalism and the greed that accompanies it as well as isolationism. I appreciated the sentiment, but overall, it was too magical for my taste, with dolls that talked and a house whose rooms changed configuration, for example—not that the book represented itself as anything else!
Though there is without a doubt an audience for this book–clearly, given the phenomenal reviews–unfortunately, it didn’t include me. It would include those who enjoy magical realism.