I struggled through a mass majority of this book because Zadie Smith references a lot of books and movies I’ve never read or seen. My lack of understanding has nothing to do with her — she is a talented writer. She combines words uniquely and she often forced me to pull out my dictionary. She taught me a lot of things. But because I was a stranger to the experiences in the text, I found myself bored and unable to relate.

I did, however, find comfort in four chapters: There Eyes Were Watching God: What Does Soulful Mean?, That Crafty Feeling, One Week in Liberia and Speaking in Tongues. In those moments, I was able to locate a common ground while being pushed to read more of her work.