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The Empty Cell - Paulette Alden


The Empty Cell is a novel set in Greenville centred around the true story of the lynching of Willie Earle, Alden has then created a fictional world and characters based on that event.

The author writes from the perspective of several characters; Alma, Lydia, Lionel, Lee and Bessie. I felt that this was one of the best traits of the novel as it allowed the reader to get to know each character, their secrets, their internal and external thoughts and provide an overview of the differences the black, white and queer characters face within the story. I did feel however that several of the characters had more to give in particular Lionel and Alma, it sometimes felt like it would have read better as a story either solely around race, sexuality or alcoholism. Alden has introduced lots of significant issues but then it feels like they are barely touched on and just there to try and pad the novel out.

I struggled with the pace and text used, it was very slow at points and difficult to remain engaged with. There were a lot of awkward and cringe-worthy moments in the novel, I'm not sure if this was the authors intention but sometimes I found myself trying to skim read it because it felt so awkward.

I think the author is trying to something positive with The Empty Cell by engaging the reader in Willie Earle and Alma's lives and trying to give them an insight into the inequality at the time, I don't doubt that there are some people who will really enjoy the novel. I however have given it 3 stars as I found it hard-work to read.

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC cope through Netgallery in exchange for an honest review.

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