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The Parking Lot Attendant

3.15  ·  Rating details ·  1,538 ratings  ·  331 reviews
The story begins on an undisclosed island where the unnamed narrator and her father are the two newest and least liked members of a commune that has taken up residence there. Though the commune was built on utopian principles, it quickly becomes clear that life here is not as harmonious as the founders intended. After immersing us in life on the island, our young heroine t ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 13th 2018 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Average rating 3.15  · 
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 ·  1,538 ratings  ·  331 reviews

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Emily May
Mar 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: modern-lit, 2018
Okay, I can't do it. This was torturous. I understand having to work hard for clever and complex works of literature, but I fear I might hurt myself if I try any harder to understand what the hell is going on in this book.

I actually just can't make any sense of the plot. There's an unnamed narrator and her father moving from Boston to an - also unnamed - island commune. Then the book shifts and takes us back to Boston and their life leading up to the move. We see how the teenage narrator is draw
Erin Glover
What an enthralling novel. The setting is the best part. Relationships are formed, crimes are committed, and Ethiopian politics are discussed in a Boston parking lot.

When she is 15-years-old and wandering around after school, the protagonist, never named, whom I’ll refer to as P, hears a group of men talking and she is introduced to Ayale, a parking lot attendant. She says, “This was my first encounter with the unofficial intelligence network that includes all Ethiopians in any given locale.” Ay
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-read, usa
Let's just put it out there: The ambiguity of this book does not feel like a window to different meanings that might enrich the text and get the reader thinking, it rather feels like a sloppy attempt to give the story an experimental feel. The unnamed teenage narrator is the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants and, as her relationship with her parents is rather difficult, she aims to find connection in the Ethiopian community in Boston. The most influential character in this community is the guru-l ...more
The book opens with the musings of a girl with no name who is living with her father in a commune on an island, also with no name. Girl and father seem unwelcome on the island. The story then flashes back to explain how the pair wound up on the island, although for me nothing was really explained adequately. I found the book, and it's point, incomprehensible.

Father (and missing mother) were Ethiopian immigrants. Their daughter was born in the United States. The 15 year old girl falls under the
Janelle Janson
Thank you so much to Henry Holt for providing my free copy of THE PARKING LOT ATTENDANT by Nafkote Tamirat- all opinions are my own.

The book opens with an unnamed narrator, a teenage girl from Boston, and her Ethiopian immigrant father, living on an undisclosed island. The story then switches back to life if Boston, prior to the island, where her parents are still together. Here, she starts hanging around a man named Ayale, a parking lot attendant. In the subsequent chapters, the narrator recoun
The Parking Lot Attendant gets off to a very engaging start. As described in the blurb, the story begins on an undisclosed island where the unnamed narrator and her father have taken up residence. I found myself wanting to know more about this island but also didn't mind the setting shifting to Boston in order to find out how they ended up on the island and how it came to be.

The second chapter clues us in on how the narrator comes to live with her father, and the third chapter is where she fina
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what happened in this book. Things go from vaguely suspicious to dead serious without much clarity. I was ok with the writing and the story between the father and daughter, but there was just too much left out from the plot for this to be a pick. I kept expecting more of a reveal that never came in the end.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Disorganized, discursive, and disappointing.

2.5 stars
Patrice Hoffman
The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat was captivating from page one. We're introduced to our narrator whose story begins on an undisclosed island where it's clear she and her father might be outcasts of sorts. This unnamed island has become home to the narrator and her father along with other Ethiopians that believed in Ayale.

Our narrator recounts the events that led to her being on this island that was to serve as a sort of Utopia for herself and the current residents but they all soon f
Jason Squire Fluck
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been a voracious reader as far back as I can remember. In second grade, I read the entire Black Stallion series by Walter Farley twice through and regretted the ending of every installment—all eighteen of them—two times over, wishing I could remain in the exciting world of fiction indefinitely. This feeling has repeated itself so many times since I could not count the number. My voracity, though, had a price. I always chose story over literary magnitude. I was a not a reading snob. I read T ...more
Dec 21, 2018 rated it liked it
2.5, rounded up.
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
An unnamed Ethiopian-American teen finds solace in her friendship with older, charismatic parking lot attendant, Ayale. He fills the gaps in her unstable home life, but he’s not completely forthcoming with his business practices. He preys on her vulnerability. There’s a pant load of ambiguity here, but it works. This is more than an immigrant story, it’s about a cult. That’s my theory anyway.

Bahni Turpin’s audio narration was brilliant as always.
Patrice Hoffman
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat was captivating from page one. We're introduced to our narrator whose story begins on an undisclosed island where it's clear she and her father might be outcasts of sorts. This unnamed island has become home to the narrator and her father along with other Ethiopians that believed in Ayale.

Our narrator recounts the events that led to her being on this island that was to serve as a sort of Utopia for herself and the current residents but they all soon f
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Notes on The Parking Lot Attendant: a different way of reviewing a book

From page 4, “She’s a story teller. Every empire requires a good origin story: at the beginning the people did this , the people killed that , the people spun these lies into truths into present glory, etcetera, etcetera. She can create the legend you need for legitimacy and to make people forget.”
As a reader I always enjoy meta-dialog , dialog that takes a break from plot, that tells the reader what they are in for beyond pl
Rebel Women Lit
Mar 12, 2018 added it
Shelves: arcs
The unnamed narrator is the breakout star of The Parking Lot Attendant, she is witty and sarcastic. Her story is fresh and unlike anything we have read before. The story felt somewhat satirical; however, it was quite difficult to gauge in this was intentional or accidental. Moreover, it was a quick read and would make a great beach or weekend read.
Unfortunately, we were unable to connect with this novel as it contained instances of Islamophobia, ableism, sexism and homophobia. Additionally, the
Bob Lopez
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I feel bad. I was really excited to read this when I heard about last year... but it's such an awk story.
I think I'd appreciate this better if it were a film. I liked the main character though - her wit was everything. But this book is a no from me :(
Jun 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Some nice elements but the plotting and characterizations seemed half-baked.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it liked it
With the first chapter of this book Tamirat intentionally leaves the reader puzzled and bemused. The protagonist, whose name we are not told, and her father have arrived at an island, whose name we are also not told. This island is six hundred miles away from any land mass in every direction. Only twenty people live in the small community where they arrive, and this arrival is not welcome or wanted. After a month the father is told they must leave the island. The father, trying to save himself a ...more
Afoma Umesi
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

The Parking Lot Attendant is narrated by a teenage girl whose name we’re not told. The book starts off on an undisclosed island only identified as B—. However, a couple of chapters in, our narrator takes us back to Boston to share how she and her father, both Ethiopian immigrants, ended up on B—.

I was so disoriented at the start of this read, perhaps because everything felt so foreign and unidentified. Still, I pushed through and the story, in my opinion is surprisingly rewarding. Th
Alison Hardtmann
Apr 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: my-library
It has not escaped us that older generations must do all they can to improve the lives of future ones, but we had believed ourselves to be the future. We were under the impression that we were the owed ones. We had not counted on this debt of service.

This book begins on an unnamed sub-tropical island, where the narrator and her father are living with a cult-like group for reasons that are unclear. The novel then jumps to the central story, a less fantastic one about a teenage girl, the child of
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Y'all, I am so glad I stumbled into reading this book! The flap blurb positions this novel as a “mesmerizing, strikingly original coming-of-age story about a girl in Boston’s tight-knit Ethiopian community who falls under the spell of a charismatic hustler whose passionate philosophies about America will change both their lives forever” and then you start reading the book and it opens on an island and the narrator appears to be part of some sort of maybe cult and I was HERE FOR IT and immediatel ...more
Jaclyn Crupi
Jun 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I’ll take ambition over perfection and this was raw ambition. When it worked it was wildly impressive and when it didn’t I could intuit Tamirat’s intention and for a debut perhaps that’s enough. Also, give me a witty and salty unnamed narrator and I’m yours.
Mar 09, 2018 added it
Full review forthcoming via Rebel Women Lit
Fantastic narrative voice and I love the relationship between the narrator and her father. The beginning and ending sections are great -- the middle section drags even though this is a very short book. It feels like it could have been a fantastic short story.
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literary-fiction
Rarely have I felt so wishy washy about a book. The blurb was intriguing and I was anxious to read the novel that began with an unnamed narrator and her father living on some island with the setting then switching to Boston. The second chapter provides information about the living situation of the narrator and her father and the third chapter focuses on the parking lot attendant. Unfortunately, the story fell short at this point. As the narrator is shown to be a young Ethiopian woman drawn to th ...more
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Look back on the past, given what you know in the present, and you'll realize that all along, you've been inventing stories and labeling them 'history'.”

The novel opens with a father and daughter arriving on a utopian island, where a commune has taken refuge but it is clearly not a place of comfort and harmony. How this Ethiopian teenager arrived here, along with her life in Boston, in the preceding years, which includes her unusual friendship with a mysterious Ethiopian man, named Ayale, who w
Jan 25, 2019 added it
What begins as a quirky mystery about an unnamed Ethiopian-American teen in Boston becomes something much more. Beginning with the narrator and her father on a remote island ruled by a shadowy cabal, the bulk of the novel jettisons this setting to explain how the pair arrived there. Our unnamed narrator, raised by a single father with little ties to the Boston Ethiopian community, finally finds a sense of community in a parking lot, run by a mysterious man named Ayale. But Ayale's interest in he ...more
This book was a really slow burn... plot-wise not much happens or is revealed until quite late in the novel, and the characters were inconsistently drawn and not fully realized. But the prose was strong throughout and the narrative voice was compelling, and those two things were enough to carry me through to the end. Didn't love it but I look forward to the next book from Tamirat... she's very talented.
Full review forthcoming via Rebel Women Lit
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