Tiffany McDaniel was like nothing I've ever read before. And I mean that in a good way. It needs to be read more than once to fully appreciate all of the complexity and nuance.
The devil has come to Breathed, Ohio. It's the summer of 1984. The hottest summer ever. It's also the summer where the Bliss family welcomed the devil into their home. Autopsy Bliss, a conflicted lawyer, puts a request in the local paper for the devil to come to town. Does he really want the devil to come to town? Who would wish for something like that? Does he want the devil to torment his family or the town? Or maybe he's trying to atone for something. Whatever the reason, something is about to happen.
The devil comes to the Bliss family in the form of a 13-year-old black boy, who goes by the name Sal. Almost immediately, Sal becomes a part of the Bliss family. Fielding Bliss, the youngest of the family, becomes fast friends with Sal. He becomes part of their world. He becomes a member of the family. Mrs. Bliss never leaves the house. But she manages to travel all over the world within her own home. Each room in the house, including the bedrooms, is a different country. Eldest son Grand is a star high school baseball star. On the outside, Grant appears to be the perfect son. But even Grand has a little chink in his armor. Grand is afraid to embrace his true self, instead choosing to perpetuate the myth of the perfect son. Fielding is just trying to keep the family together anyway he can. It doesn't always work.
Sal doesn't look like the devil. No horns coming out of his head. No fire shooting out of his mouth. But his mere presence certainly makes people think he's the devil. Mysterious accidents and suspicious deaths, all of which are attributed to Sal. There is a lot of hatred and racism directed at Sal and the entire Bliss family. Is it all just coincidence? Is Sal really the devil? Sal is actually very wise and level-headed. But his presence brings out the worst in the town of Breathed. The fear, the hatred, and the anger was always there. Sal was just a convenient excuse for the town's behavior.
Each chapter clues readers into Fielding's future and his past, both of which get more bleak as the book progresses. I grew attached to these characters. It's hard not to, especially when you know that something bad is about to happen. This isn't a happy story, but it is very engrossing, hypnotic, and timely. Yes, I said timely. The book is set in 1984, but the issues then are still relevant now. Fear, hatred, anger, and the myriad of other social issues are a perfect reflection of today's world. To sum it up, I highly recommend this book!
Note: I received an e-galley from the author in exchange for an honest review.