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My Review | The Office of Historical Corrections

Photo shows the book cover of The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans - Photo by Peri McKinnis - Peri Reads - perireads.com

The award-winning author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self brings her signature voice and insight to the subjects of race, grief, apology, and American history.

Danielle Evans is widely acclaimed for her blisteringly smart voice and x-ray insights into complex human relationships. With The Office of Historical Corrections, Evans zooms in on particular moments and relationships in her characters’ lives in a way that allows them to speak to larger issues of race, culture, and history. She introduces us to Black and multiracial characters who are experiencing the universal confusions of lust and love, and getting walloped by grief—all while exploring how history haunts us, personally and collectively. Ultimately, she provokes us to think about the truths of American history—about who gets to tell them, and the cost of setting the record straight.

In “Boys Go to Jupiter,” a white college student tries to reinvent herself after a photo of her in a Confederate-flag bikini goes viral. In “Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain,” a photojournalist is forced to confront her own losses while attending an old friend’s unexpectedly dramatic wedding. And in the eye-opening title novella, a black scholar from Washington, DC, is drawn into a complex historical mystery that spans generations and puts her job, her love life, and her oldest friendship at risk.

This was my second Book of the Month and I enjoyed every last word! I’m a big fan of novellas so when I saw this book suggested I knew I had to have it. And what a good choice that was. This was also the first book that I’ve read by Danielle Evans and ever since reading this I’ll most def keep my eyes out for her stuff. The book is composed of seven stories ranging from different themes either focusing on love, race, family or everything in between. The characters are so elaborate and fun for even when they’re in a short story, a likable feature for the book. Evans goes through these different stories with grace and flair creating a powerful atmosphere as we get through each piece. Evans’s main focus with these stories is to show how each character deals with their own history whether it be something as minuscule as a family sickness to history spanning years and years.

“I loved the past of archives, but there was no era of the past I had any inclination to visit with my actual human body, being rather fond of it having at least minimal rights and protections.”

Honestly one of the biggest highlights of this book is how each story is so unique and interesting that I almost wish they had their own book. The first story focuses on Lyssa and her growing fear about cancer being prevalent in her family tree. That’s our first tie, Happily Ever After, to the power of history, that our first taste of it runs through our genes. Another one that I enjoyed that I feel is one of the more important stories, Boys Go to Jupiter, a college student, Claire, faces the backlash of her wearing a confederate flag bikini on the internet but to her the flag means nothing. To Claire, it’s just a bikini with a cool design on it. Showing that even though history is taught certain groups of people don’t have to apply that history to themselves. They can easily forget it. The power that history holds within our society is apparent wherever we look. The longest story, and the one that the title derives from, The Office of Historical Corrections, involves Cassie as she works in the Institute of Public History in D.C. Though the entire purpose of the position is to ultimately to end the constant misinformation in American history, Cassie has to go all the way to Wisconsin to correct her ex co-worker’s mistake, only to unearth more questions than answers. Honestly rallying with all the impressive world building with the diverse characters each story holds an impressive amount of weight to what history means to us. How it can effect us. How, without it, we are doomed to repeat it.

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“Besides the tablecloths, the decor is all old photographs and postcards that they scrounged up from wherever, because you know how white people love their history right up until it's true.”

I loved Evans’s writing so much and honestly everything she said really put me in perspective. As a white person, I’m trying to relearn the history I was taught at a young age from a different lens. Boys Go to Jupiter is a great example of how it’s easy for white people to not have to think about the past. We benefit from the systemic positions that are placed upon us today. Evans manages to string along the power of history throughout each character’s lives, through time spent with one another, through the power of generational ownership, no matter what we do, we are making some form of history. Sure maybe you’ll do something that generations won’t read about but you can leave your mark in some way.

MY RATING:

4/5

MY RATING:

4/5

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Hey! I’m Peri McKinnis

Peri McKinnis of Peri Reads

I’m a creative, I’m a dreamer, and I’m an Aries. I’ll read any book with enough convincing, I enjoy weird movies, and I’m a caffeine fiend. From the day that I brought my first book catalog home from school I knew that books were going to have a special place in my heart. Now I want to spread that love here, to talk about the books that made us cry, fall in love, and scorn because we couldn’t finish them. 

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