This is the first of the odiously named "urban fiction" genre that I've read, in which urban = brown. Because it is genre fiction, and if I'm being honest with myself and any randos who find this blog, because it is urban fiction about "hoes," the author's term, not mine, I was surprised by how clever and surprising it is. I remember being at a conference where someone presented on a Sister Souljah book. I was curious, but never got around to reading it, despite how highly the presenter and audience members spoke of it.
Protagonist Marisol Rivera is a former sex worker who has dedicated her life to caring for other sex workers by opening a medical clinic to serve their needs--and teach them entrepreneurship. Of course keeping such an operation afloat, despite being a brilliant and creative business woman, so she runs a worker-centric escort service that may or may not also be a safe cracking team that targets Ivy League CEOs that prey on their kind.
A couple of the moments that surprised me:
This conversation takes place between Rivera and her younger sister.
"In my experience, it's only a fantasy that sex workers would have done it for free under different circumstances. As a client that would be a total turnoff. I'd always be worried that they didn't really like me, that they were just doing it for the money."
"Maybe socialist sex work is different," Cristina said.
She tried to pull away, but she was all fault lines. She collapsed against him, shaking and weeping.
I love that image of being weakened from the core and every point, like Earth.
Unless The Favorite Sister, the book I reviewed prior to this one, Uptown Thief is a profoundly feminist novel, and it makes a case for women-in-business that doesn't feel...capitalist exactly.