This is a debut novel, but it reads like a pro. Rainbow Milk is an intersectional coming-of-age story, following nineteen-year-old Jesse McCarthy as he struggles with racial and sexual identities. Brought up Jehovah’s Witness with the legacies of the Windrush generation. It’s also a seriously good read about what it means to be black, gay, British, sexual, male, Midlander, you name it; Mendez holds it up to light and peels them layers back. His prose is cool, slippery and cuts clean to the quick. He takes you to places unfamiliar and confusing and with a sentence connects you to the core of the characters mind. It’s a fast ride in an astonishingly cool car.
We follow the stories of ex-boxer Norman Alonso a determined Jamaican who moved to 19050’s Britain with his wife to secure a brighter future . Blighted with illness and racism, they are resilient in the face of hostilities, but know they will need more than just hope to survive. As the millennium turns Jesse seeks a fresh start in London – escaping from an awkward family and a repressive religious community– but finds himself grappling for a new anchor. He turns to sex work to create new notions of love, fatherhood and spirituality. It’s how Mendex explores the maze of desire, need and honesty which is so ravishingly honest and challenging.
He writes a pretty hot erotic narrative, which exploded with urgent desire off the pages, they sizzle. His sensual explorations of flesh and desire are mixed together with withering condemnations of British imperialist ideology, folded in with tender reflections on parenting and what it means to be young, queer and black in the UK today.
Out April 24th
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