Saturday, January 28, 2023

Clean Air by Sarah Blake - ADVISABLE

Clean Air by Sarah Blake, 320 pages. Algonquin Books, 2023. $27.

Language: R (40 swears, 2 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13



In 2042, the airborne pollens that come from trees blooming are deadly, which caused a massive reduction in population several years ago. Izabel (30yo) lives with her husband, Kaito, and their four-year-old daughter, Cami, in the new homes built to protect them from pollen, and life continues mostly like normal. But someone thinks that there hasn’t been enough death. They call him a serial killer. And that’s when Izabel’s daughter starts talking in her sleep.

I love that this stay-at-home mom and her four-year-old are the keys to the story. Watching everything unfold was exciting, and I couldn’t wait to see how things escalated and resolved. Blake’s thriller is almost realistic fiction, but then there’s a supernatural element that doesn’t feel out of place because Kaito is constantly telling Cami Japanese stories, including about mythological monsters. The combination of fantasy and realism is done seamlessly – my heart wants to label it as realistic fiction even as my mind is telling me it’s technically fantasy.

Izabel is Jewish and Uruguayan, Kaito is Japanese, and Jana is Muslim. The mature content rating is for alcohol use, mentions of drugs, and mentions of penis, rape, and sex. The violence rating is for murder and mentions of guns, self harm, and suicide.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

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