A book that was recommended to me by the Canadian knitting/running blogger A Petite Slice of Life. I’m not quite sure why I like books set in knitting shops so much since I am completely unable to knit (and have tried all the ways of learning: just cannot do it), but I do, so I fancied reading this one. It was indeed a fun read, with some important things to say about community and masculinity, too.

Kwana Jackson – “Real Men Knit”

(05 July 2020 – ebook)

Jesse and his three “brothers” (two of whom share a mother) were adopted by the redoubtable Mama Joy as boys – as well as running her knitting shop and community hub in Harlem, she changed their lives around and now all except Jesse are successful in their fields. She has also provided a haven for Kerry, who has now finally got her degree and a part time job she hopes to turn full time in a children’s centre.

Now Mama Joy has passed away and three of the sons want to sell up and move on, especially when they find out there are debts and worries. But Jesse wants to keep the shop going and prove he can actually come good for once, even when he feels like running away as usual. While this is a light read and a romance, he really does face up to things, even resorting to go on an apology mission to all his exes – who then all turn up at the shop relaunch! Kerry’s a good character who won’t take crap from the boys she’s grown up with, but as she works closely with Jesse on the shop, the old crush she’s always had starts to well up again. She goes for what she wants, though, and good for her.

The book is named after the Instagram account Kerry sets up, busily and cheerfully objectifying the City worker, dancer, fireman and womaniser against a background of wools. And yes, all the guys knit and are seen knitting, and share with local children how it’s taught them calm and persistence and how to concentrate.

The side characters are great, from Kerry’s feisty workmate Val to their dreadful culturally appropriating colleague and the group of rather alarming older ladies who always met at the shop for a knit and natter and don’t see why they should stop now. Older guys are shown supporting younger kids, which is nice, and the diversity of the brothers’ heritage is celebrated and occasional microaggressions pointed out carefully but not in a laboured way.

This is a slow burn with a lot of description of thought processes, but I ultimately enjoyed this fun and diverse read.