Review From User :
Superbly written historical novel exploring racism, violence, and extremist groups in America in the 1920's. While this novel takes place in the past, its subject matter resonates in the current moment.
Alice James has a knack for blending in. She can become part of the background, enabling her to go unnoticed and listen in on very important conversations. She also can stand out, if need be. She can be anyone or no one. Her nickname, Nobody, suits her perfectly. In the early 1900's in Harlem, she uses her unique abilities to become an asset for the Mafia.
Portland, Oregon 1922. The Paragon Hotel--an all-black hotel in a state being infiltrated by the KKK. Racial tensions are high, especially since it was not legal for black people to reside in Oregon during this time period. A white traveler with a bullet wound is brought in to recover. A little boy goes missing. Tension builds, the KKK makes their presence known in a brutal and tragic way.
I absolutely loved The Paragon Hotel. It's well-written and the characters are multidimensional. I found Nobody and Blossom's characters to be especially fascinating. Nobody is a dynamic narrator--her voice is strong and drew me in. I was interested in both her past and present and was dying to know her deep dark secrets.
The hotel also plays a dominant role--the different rooms not only embody the different characters and personas, but also they hide the secrets of the guests, keep them somewhat safe, but also can expose them to harm.
"Its dozens of windows with its hundreds of guests, all of them hiding something. All of them fighting for something. All of them frightened of something"
While The Paragon Hotel is primarily about inequality and power struggles, the novel is also about friendships that defy color lines and gender norms.
This is a thought-provoking read about racism, gender norms, and power dynamics. While it should highlight how far America has come, in the current moment it serves as a reminder of how America's progress has devolved. It's clear Faye did her research--I learned a lot from reading this, as I had no idea about Oregon's murky past. I loved the message of The Paragon Hotel and the ending. There are some horrifying moments, but also some beautiful ones.
"It's not a book. This was never a book. This is a love letter."
I received an ARC of this book from Edelweiss and G.P. Putnam's Sons in exchange for an honest review.
Media Size : 1.2 MB