2024 Tournament of Books: The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store vs The Lost Journals of Sacajawea

This is the only non first-round match-up where my predictions matched the official judgment so things stay a bit simpler here. Again, we’re faced with two very different books. The Lost Journals of Sacajawea is a deeply challenging book, one that pushes the boundaries of structure and language offering a great deal of unexplained native culture alongside untranslated Native American words whose meaning the reader is left to guess or imagine. Out of all the books in the competition, this is the only one that I found myself reaching out to someone telling them, “I think you would like this book, you should read it.” In contrast, The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store is almost a confection of accessibility. The bits of Yiddish and Hebrew in the dialog are followed by immediate translations and explanations. The interactions between the Black and Jewish characters and their mutually uneasy relationship with mainstream white culture are a bit of a joy to read. For me, I decided that I would choose joy over challenge, so my pick to advance was The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store.

My judgment on the judgment

Apparently the bottom left corner of the brackets is where the judges and I just align. While I don’t agree with everything Natashia Deón wrote about The Lost Journals of Sacajawea, I did agree with her ultimate choice so we’ll call it an overall agreement.


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