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Quick Stats
Age Rating: 13+
Over All: 2.5 stars
Plot: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Setting: 4/5
Writing: 2/5

Special thanks to Penguin Teen and NetGalley for an eARC of this book! All thoughts and opinions reflected in this review are my own.

Pitched as a YA Bridgerton* type novel inspired by the real life events of the Davenport family in 1910s Chicago, this book brings to light a period of African American History often overlooked.

The idea of this book is to dive into what the lives of affluential Black families in the North may have been like. A diverse, but real-life-inspired take on the beloved romantic, high society type of historical novel. This premise was so interesting to me, and this aspect of the book did come off as well researched and compelling. I am not typically a historical fiction girly, and yet the historical, political, and socioeconomic aspects of the book were by far my favorite part. In fact, I think they may have been the only aspect that I enjoyed. It was a significant part of the story, so I don’t necessarily wish there was more of it (though I wouldn’t have complained if there were), but all the other aspects of the book: the characters, the writing, the actual plot, were… subpar at best.
The Davenports follows 4 alternating POVs and storylines: Olivia, the elder Davenport sister; Helen, the younger Davenport sister; Amy-Rose the childhood friend/maid of the Davenport girls; and Ruby Tremaine, Olivia’s best friend and neighbor. Each girl follows both a sort of coming into herself/coming of age storyline, and a romantic storyline. Not a single one of the girls has a personality. Each girl had one, singular goal outside of their romance (except for Ruby, whose only goals were romance-oriented), and they had no substance as a character outside of their goals. They were cardboard cut out girls with no emotional impact.
Similarly, the romantic interests had no personalities, and the romances and couples themselves had no spark. I felt the slightest bit of a spark between Ruby and one of her romantic leads, but it was very minimal, and not enough to invest me in their relationship.

As for the plot… what plot? There was the premise of the Davenport family and co in their world, and there were storylines that existed for each girl, but there was no cohesive plot, no driving force behind the story. It led to the story feeling exceedingly slow and boring. If this wasn’t an ARC, I likely would have DNFed. Now, I don’t think this aspect is inherently a bad thing. I personally need the books I read to have a strong plot and driving force, I need faster paced books, and this is much more on the slow-paced, slice of life end of the spectrum. But I know people who don’t need or want that kind of book, who crave slice of life. It’s not for me, but it is for others.

I think this book has a much better premise than it does actual execution, however, I think that if it is something you’re interested in, you should definitely give it a shot.

*I really dislike the Bridgerton comp. The only similarity is that it follows high society… but Bridgerton is regency era london high society, and this is 1910s Chicago high society. Relatedly, the largest selling points of Bridgerton are the romance, drama, and smut. This book is YA, therefore there is no smut whatsoever—and there shouldn’t be. There is drama, I guess, but I was never convinced by it, nor was I swept up in it. And there are romances… but they’re one of the weakest aspects of the story in my opinion, and they do not have a guaranteed HEA. Some do, some don’t.