The Least of These
by Lee'ah D. B. Giaquinto
Zimbell House Publishing

"Sabie often told Teddie that giving a little of oneself brings about the good in the world, but one must be careful not to let people take advantage of you."

Sabrina, a personal injury attorney, is looking for a change. When she uncovers letters in a family heirloom—a secretary passed down from her great-aunt—she discovers the family practice of assisting those in need, “the least of these.” Believing this might help her find peace, she decides to follow in her family’s footsteps and opens up her home.

Enter Teddy, a foster child about to start college, and Angela, a young woman battling depression. The three women’s lives begin to intertwine as they warm up to each other and assist each other in navigating the harsh realities of life and its problems. Juggling between modern-day and 1940’s Detroit, Giaquinto’s debut novel is a story about having a charitable spirit and finding a sense of purpose.

The majority of the story focuses on the women adapting to each other. While the author succeeds at highlighting the internal struggle each woman faces, and how she works to overcome these obstacles, there is minimal tension and conflict in the relationships of the characters, and it is usually resolved rather quickly. On the other hand, the story’s best moments are quiet happenings with strong emotional impact, such as Sabrina’s dog’s acceptance of Teddy.

Giaquinto’s novel can be read as a distinct African-American story, in the sense that it highlights how spirituality and building community are important parts of African-American culture. The parallel storyline in 1940’s Detroit, for example, follows Sabrina’s great-aunt Antie May setting up a church mission to help “Black folks” who are relocating from the South to Detroit as well as one of those recipients of the mission’s efforts. By introducing these elements into the story, the author adds layers of history and culture, giving it a well-rounded richness.

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