Book Review: Lakewood

LAKEWOOD | Megan Giddings
03.24.2020 | Amistad
Rating: 5/5 stars


When Lena Johnson’s beloved grandmother dies the full extent of her family’s debt is revealed and Lena is forced to drop out of college in order to support her mother. She takes a job in the mysterious and remote town of Lakewood, Michigan. On paper, her new job is too good to be true. High paying. No out of pocket medical expenses. A free place to live. All Lena has to do is participate in a secret program and lie to her friends and family about the research being done in Lakewood. As the truths of the program reveal themselves, Lena learns how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the sake of her family.

LAKEWOOD is a brilliant debut from Megan Giddings that examines class and race through the lens of one young woman fighting for her family to survive. From the instant the reader meets Lena it’s obvious she’s relentless and willing to sacrifice anything for those she cares for. Watching her at Lakewood as she participates in medical studies is equally fascinating and heartbreaking. The types of situations Lena is put into push her to her absolute limits and we watch as she fights to survive. As the experiments get stranger, Lena takes the reader first hand into her downward spiral. Gidding’s narrative style feels very diary-like, which gives the entire story a very raw and unfiltered feeling.

Giddings shines a brilliant light on the subject of medical experimentation with the strange and at times downright terrifying tests that are conducted at Lakewood. It’s clear that while Giddings’ book may be a work of fiction there are echoes of the very real horrors that black people have faced in America, such as the Tuskegee experiment and Henrietta Lacks. LAKEWOOD is a work of horror that is realistic, emotional, and steeped in history, which makes it all the more uncomfortable, unnerving, and unputdownable.

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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