On Rotation

By Shirlene Obuobi

Shirlene Obuobi’s generous debut was a real treat from start to finish. Her exploration of different types of love—platonic, family, and ego—is particularly satisfying.

Growing up is tough, and no one knows it better than Angela Appia, the racy 20-year-old protagonist in Shirlene Obuobi’s generous debut novel On Rotation. As the dutiful eldest daughter of a Ghanaian immigrant, Angie spends most of her time fulfilling her parents’ expectations of her becoming a well-paid, respected doctor and finding an acceptable husband (i.e. lawyer, engineer or doctor) , preferably of Ghanaian descent).

By the time she was in her third year of medical school, Angie thought she had finally lined up all the ducks, but it fell apart spectacularly. Her lawyer boyfriend lost her for hours before a family event, and instead of taking the most important exam of her career in medical school, she got an embarrassingly low grade. Now, her entire future as a doctor is at stake.

Just when she was at her lowest point, Angie met Ricky, a smooth-spoken, genuinely disturbing artist who gave her AF in the best possible way. The chemistry between them was gone, but Ricky wasn’t in the market, so Angie decided to refocus on getting to the top. But fate seems to have another plan, and she and Ricky have been at a crossroads. Angie quickly discovered that in love—in life—the best decisions are not to listen to your head, but to let your heart guide you.

Like its hyphenated creators (Obuobi is a black doctor and cartoonist who has now added a female writer to her impressive list of accomplishments), On Rotation transcends it, incorporating rom-com , medical drama, women’s fiction, coming-of-age-story and immigration history. What’s even more incredible is that it balances all of these elements nicely and handles them in a fun and satisfying way.

Obuobi’s decision to explore different types of love — platonic, familial, and self-loving — rather than focusing solely on romantic love, is particularly satisfying and refreshing. It’s clear that Uubbi admires and respects her characters, who are all quirky and dynamic, but – crucially – never comics. Fueled by Obuobi’s vibrant and powerful author voice, Angie, Ricky, and their friends jump off the page, their dreams and aspirations becoming tangible along with their fears, mistakes, and problems.

Delightful from start to finish, On Rotation will appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell, Talia Hibbert, and Ali Hazelwood, and will resonate with any reader who appreciates multicultural, diverse, inclusive love stories that are Uncompromising strong and complex women are the protagonists.

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