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The Historical Office of Corrections: Book Review

The Office of Historical Corrections | OMG Kaya Reads Blog

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Summary From GoodReads

Danielle Evans is widely acclaimed for her blisteringly smart voice and x-ray insights into complex human relationships. With The Office of Historical Corrections, Evans zooms in on particular moments and relationships in her characters’ lives in a way that allows them to speak to larger issues of race, culture, and history. She introduces us to Black and multiracial characters who are experiencing the universal confusions of lust and love, and getting walloped by grief—all while exploring how history haunts us, personally and collectively. Ultimately, she provokes us to think about the truths of American history—about who gets to tell them, and the cost of setting the record straight.

My Thoughts

I randomly picked up The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans and it accompanied me as an ebook and eaudiobook on my trip to St. Thomas. The Office of Historical Corrections is a collection of short stories. All seven stories were engaging. The collection has 6 short stories and 1 novella. Although each one has its own distinctive narrative, they do examine similar themes but they do so through different, and at times opposing perspectives. Evans navigates the experiences of Black people in white America.

Throughout this collection, Evans touches on themes of injustice, forgiveness, history (a character’s personal history as well as a nation’s history), freedom and identity, grief, loss, fear, failed relationships, and human connection.

Most of the time, the novellas felt too short for the depth of story Evans was trying to convey. However, after every story, I was left pondering and rethinking the themes in the story. 

via GIPHY

Some of the short stories just kind of ended and I wanted just a few more answers than the open ending left, but that’s more of a personal preference. 

I enjoyed all the short stories; however, there were a few that stood out. 

  • Alcatraz
    • A biracial woman takes up her grandfather’s case of getting his dishonorable discharge changed. He is sent to Alcatraz for an accidental discharge of the weapon that killed two soldiers. This story is not only about the grandfather but also about legacy and identity. Both the grandfather and granddaughter get lost in the mission to correct the wrong and lose part of themselves. The granddaughter has to deal with it more because she is a biracial (half-black; half-white) woman in a white family that doesn’t accept her, only her grandparents. 
  • Boys Go to Jupiter
    • A white college student, Claire, is labeled racist after her sort-of-boyfriend posts a photo of her wearing a Confederate bikini. Rather than apologize or even acknowledge what this flag truly symbolizes. Claire makes matters much worse. The reader comes to learn more about Claire’s background and why she is being contrarian and has apathetic behavior. culpability, and grief.
  • The Office of Historical Correctness
    • The titular novella follows two Black women who have never been on easy terms. Having lost touch after college they both end up working at the Institute for Public History where they are tasked with correcting historical inaccuracies/mistakes. Oftentimes they are correcting America’s colonial and racist past. The two women have very different approaches and their search for the truth behind this man’s death soon sparks the anger of the white ‘preservationists’.

There are so many things to love about this collection: Evans’ focus on women and the thorny relationships they can have with one another, the wry humor that underlines these stories. Evans captured diverse and nuanced emotions so effortlessly. This is a fantastic collection and you should definitely give it a try. 

If you read the collection of short stories, which one(s) were your favorite?

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