The Wildest Sun

“I am the daughter of a proud father and a delightfully vain mother. I am a girl who has always known that her destiny must lead to greatness, and that I must achieve it whatever it costs me.”—Asha Lemmie, The Wildest Sun.

This coming-of-age tale whisked me away to postwar Paris, where we meet Delphine Auber, a young aspiring writer with dreams as big as the Eiffel Tower. From the get-go, Delphine’s journey captivated me. Having shouldered the weight of her alcoholic mother’s care since she was a child, her story is one of resilience and determination.

But it’s when she sets sail for the bustling streets of Harlem, where she lives with family friends, that things pick up. Her quest takes her to Havana, where she believes she’ll find her long-lost father, none other than the legendary Ernest Hemingway.

One thing I appreciated about this book is how vividly Lemmie paints the vibrant backdrop of Havana. It’s like you’re right there, soaking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the city. Delphine begins her own literary journey, crafting novels she hopes will earn her father’s approval. And Delphine herself? Initially unlikeable, she becomes a character you can’t help but cheer for—I feel like I understood what made her tick.

That said, there were a few bumps along the road. Lemmie’s writing, while engaging, sometimes gets bogged down by unnecessary adverbs. Still, The Wildest Sun outshines Lemmie’s previous work, Fifty Words for Rain (2020). It’s a compelling tale with heart, soul, and just the right amount of drama. So, if you’re looking for a book to whisk you away to another time and place, this one’s worth a shot. 4 stars.

** Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy of this novel. The opinions expressed are my own.

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