Book of the Month is a monthly book subscription box. Each month, five curators pick out their favorite new hardcover books, and you can choose which one you want to receive on the first of the month for $14.99/month. You can also add up to two additional books for only $9.99 each. (This box was named one of the best subscriptions for avid readers in the 2023 Subscription Box Awards.)
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My BOTM Pick for May: Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? by Crystal Smith Paul — Hardcover Retail Value $27.99
Back of Book Summary:
A multigenerational saga that traverses the glamour of old Hollywood and the seductive draw of modern-day showbiz.
When Kitty Karr Tate, a White icon of the silver screen, dies and bequeaths her multimillion-dollar estate to the St. John sisters, three young, wealthy Black women, it prompts questions. Lots of questions.
A celebrity in her own right, Elise St. John would rather focus on sorting out Kitty’s affairs than deal with the press. But what she discovers in one of Kitty’s journals rocks her world harder than any other brewing scandal could―and between a cheating fiancé and the fallout from a controversial social media post, there are plenty.
The truth behind Kitty's ascent to stardom from her beginnings in the segregated South threatens to expose a web of unexpected family ties, debts owed, and debatable crimes that could, with one pull, unravel the all-American fabric of the St. John sisters and those closest to them.
As Elise digs deeper into Kitty's past, she must also turn the lens upon herself, confronting the gifts and burdens of her own choices and the power that the secrets of the dead hold over the living. Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? is a sprawling page-turner set against the backdrop of the Hollywood machine, an insightful and nuanced look at the inheritances of family, race, and gender―and the choices some women make to break free of them.
This book takes place across two generations of families from the segregated South of the 40's and 50's to modern-day 2017. As it jumps back and forth between the two times, we are introduced to Hazel and Mary, and the St. Johns' family. These two families lives will quickly collide once the famous Kitty Karr passes away and bequeaths her entire estate worth $600 million dollars to the St. Johns' sisters. What the world can't understand is why? I won't ruin the book and answer that, but I will say that the two families are much closer than anyone thinks.
"Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?" is centered around race and the difficult decisions that Black women must face...particularly those who actually look White. Readers learn that there is an entire group of women who were born into Black families, but because of a rape by a White man somewhere in their lineage, they are actually born with white skin. Due to the "one drop" law (an extremely racist law passed in 1911 in an effort to deny equal opportunity), these women were not only shunned by the White community and considered Black, but many in the Black community as well due to their paler skin color. Many decide to leave their homes and "pass" fully as a White woman. However, they not only face guilt for their decision, it also exposes them to the dangers of being found out and the very real possibility of death because of it.
This side of history is something I had not learned a lot about, and it took me down a rabbit hole of research after I had finished the book. Many of these women had to leave their families behind and face certain danger in an effort to escape slavery and later, segregation. This was also during a time that women did not have a lot of rights themselves, and it is a testament to their bravery, courage, and will to survive.
"Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?" has been one of the harder books for me to really get into. It took at least 100 pages of reading before I really started to turn the pages. I thought the plot line was great, but I think my inability to breeze through it was because of the lack of cliff hangers. I'm a sucker for those, and each chapter in this book pretty much closed out with a problem being solved or at least answers being given. It was still a very good book and incredibly well-written, but it did take me quite a bit longer than usual to get through it because of this.
Having said that, I still highly recommend this book. Just know that if you are anything like me, it might take a little bit longer to get into. Don't give up, though! Keep reading and I guarantee you will be sucked in.
Value - Was This Box Worth It?
Yes. And honestly, I haven't received a book yet that I have said no to this question. The books are hand-picked by BOTM club editors and each one has been a great read that I have been happy with. You really can't beat the price for a brand new book each month and I love seeing the options at the beginning of the month. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed in a bookstore with all of the choices, but being able to lay in bed and read up on the summaries and reviews of each of the new books makes picking one that much more enjoyable.
BOTM Club books range from $12.50-$16.99, depending on your chosen subscription.
The Cost: $9.99 + free shipping
Value Breakdown: This box costs $9.99, but the book I chose retails for $27.99, which was a discount of about $18 for me. (Remember...this is first month only).
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To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this book if you sign up today? Yes! But you will need to order it as an add-on. This book came late due to a large amount of BOTM subscribers requesting it, so it won't be available for your pick by the time this review comes out.
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