Why did the chicken cross the road? Because on one side was everything she had ever known and on the other side was a future, maybe, and even though she was afraid to leave everything she had ever known, she also wanted a future, maybe, and so hesitating, and then not, and then moving quickly, running, sprinting, even, desperate, she crossed, and found a future, maybe, leaving behind everything she had ever known.
So why did the chicken cross the road? I’m not sure. I also not sure why I’ve been in such a reading slump lately. Whether it’s due to me losing interest or the length of the novel is too intimidating, Alice Isn’t Dead was the remedy to end the slump. Joseph Fink uses his life long battle with anxiety as fuel to create his most personal novel yet. Inspired by his podcast of the same name, this novel is completely a stand alone piece so you don’t need to be caught up on the podcast to enjoy. But I have a feeling you’ll want to be the time you finish reading.
Keisha Taylor once lived a quiet but happy life with her wife, Alice. Of course, all that changed the day Alice disappeared. Keisha searched. And searched. And searched a little more before reality finally caught up with her. She had a funeral, went to support groups and mourned as anyone would in hopes of moving on. Then all that changed when Keisha began seeing Alice in the background of news reports from all over America. Now, with her new job as a truck driver, Keisha begins searching for Alice. Along the way she somehow manages to stumble right in the middle of a conspiracy and a war going on in quiet corners of our nation’s highway system. A war that’s been going on for who knows how long.
Now I’m a fan of Fink’s- have been for years now- but I had no idea this book, about a truck driver looking for her wife, would move me so deeply. The most I was expecting was a shouting match of a reunion immediately followed by kicking some Thistle Man ass. But no. This take on Alice and Keisha’s story goes beyond the conspiracy and one missing woman.
On the Alice Isn’t Dead podcast they released a five minute clip of Fink reading aloud a Dear Reader letter that didn’t make the final cut in which he discusses his oldest friend and enemy, anxiety. It has effected not only him but the people he cares most about. It makes you understand why he wrote about an ‘unlikely’ hero that has the same kind of anxiety as him. It’s just one of those things that hits close to home. This is just one of the many reasons why it is easy to fall into this world Fink has so cleverly woven together. This cruel and sometimes beautiful world that feels like it was made just for you. I have no doubt you’ll become obsessed thanks to Fink’s poise and exemplary writing style
By the time I reached the ending I was nearly to the point of tears, don’t confuse this with sadness about the plot. This wasn’t a sad story. The ending wasn’t even sad. It was just a way to cope with the ending of something so spectacular; disappointed that it’s over yet happy that it happened. Because after a while it stops becoming just Alice and Keisha’s story. It becomes the readers in the best way possible. There really is something for everyone in this book with the cherry on top of it all being the main character herself. In these more accepting times how often is it that we have a story about a queer, anxiety ridden woman of color that isn’t about “coming out” or any harsh stereotypes. Keisha Taylor is the literary embodiment of “the hero we need but not the one we deserve.” I love her so very much and I know so many others will too.
So, why did the chicken cross the road? Because it is not afraid of being afraid. Because it’s growing tired of the usual and mundane. Because it really hopes Joseph Fink comes out with another book soon.