Jazz Time in “Half Blood Blues”

This week’s book was Esi Edugyan’s “Half Blood Blues.” I remember buying this book months ago, drawn to the cover like a fly to honey. Yes, I’ll admit it loud and proud, I choose all my books based on the cover. There’s something about good cover art that makes you want to stick your nose right into those pages, don’t you think? This cover features a close up of the label on a vinyl record and just looking at it made be feel nostalgic, so of course, I added it to my to-be-purchased pile. 

The story drops us into the life of Sid Griffiths, jumping between his young 1940s and his aged 1990s self. Griffiths and his friends, all jazz musicians seeking to make a living and lay low during the onset of WWII, face racial hatred in Nazi Germany and although they flee to Paris, they cannot escape the condemnation. Sid struggles with jealousy of his biracial friend Hieronymus (who doesn’t love that name?) whom he perceives is a better musician. Sid’s jealousy leads to his betrayal of Hiero, leaving him to the mercy of the Nazi’s during the German invasion of France. 

The Sid we meet in 1990 is a tired, angry man who continues to struggle with his actions of his younger self. He must re-examine his past in order to find peace within himself. He feels anger towards Chip, another of his friends from childhood, who accuses Sid of being intertwined in Hiero’s arrest back in the 40s. He resents Chip for seeing the truth of his actions and proclaiming it to the world. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, loving every bit of the jazzy tones, and especially the introduction of Louis Armstrong (sigh). It was a slow read. You know you sometimes can’t fully immerse yourself in a book, no matter how much you love it. I found that this book, though set in a terrifying and exhilarating time, was slow moving at times, but that may just be my preoccupied self half-heartedly attempting to fall into this story. 

It’s a read that I’d recommend to anyone. Just love it and enjoy it. This book is paired well with a blanket and a large, hot cup of tea. 

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