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4.01  ·  Rating details ·  92 ratings  ·  31 reviews
New York City, August 1998. On a muggy summer day, five women wake up to discover purple scab-like lesions on their faces—a rash that pulses, oozes, and spreads in spiral patterns. City clinic doctors dismiss the women’s fears as common dermatitis, a regular skin rash. But as more women show up with the symptoms, one clear correlation emerges: an all-natural, first-of-its- ...more
Published May 2nd 2017 by Book Smugglers Publishing
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  92 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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The second title in the Novella Initiative!
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hair is a complicated topic, especially if your hair isn't naturally long and straight and pliable: you know, white. That's why the women in this story relax their hair, with the newest wonder-product on the market: Reenu-You. The product is touted as all natural, so pure you could even eat it. Of course, it's not all it's made out to be.

Pulling from a wide range of tropes of science fiction, Berger has written a compelling story full of conspiracy and danger. Five women who all used the produc
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent novella! Review coming soon.
Debbie Hates the New Book Page Redesign
This is so different than anything else I've seen and it was so refreshing. This takes place in the late 90's, and a new hair straightener on the market is the vector of a deadly virus that takes over its hosts and forces them to develop strange behavior. (Note: Ignore the biological inaccuracy of this. The virus isn't the important bit anyway.) This story is told through alternating POVs of five infected women, internal memos from one of the scientists who helped develop the product, and news r ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reenu-You was a fascinating yet approachable read about a deadly virus that spreads through America starting with black/minority women using a new a hair care product. I adore sci-fi grounded in reality and relationships with an all female ensemble. It helped me re-examine some preconceived notions about product safety, beauty, and race. Well done!
Clara ✨
“Death is about perception, and the ability to focus on a different level of awareness. This is the last lesson I learned from my mother.”

I always get so glad to read shorter stories with this level of complexity. It is a discussion on what is like being a woman of color, on sisterhood, on friendship, on being lonely with a twist of sci-fi that involves marginalized people’s culture. And it is set in the 1990’s! I highly recommend it.
Mery ✨
Oct 07, 2021 rated it liked it

Soon to be reviewed
Eden Royce
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For Black women especially, the word “hair” can strike fear into our hearts, keep us up late at night, and empty our wallets with lightning quick ease. As such, it’s a perfect topic to explore in horror. So little of horror is written from a place of authority for Black women. When it is, the story tends toward the historical, steeped in the horrors of slavery, or even twisting the conjure magics into something evil and ugly.

Berger has taken our hair, something that holds the power to change our
I enjoyed some of the characterization and definitely the premise, but the plot ended up feeling incomplete to me. I think the science should've been left more vague - I couldn't buy the specifics and they knocked my rating down a notch. While this didn't completely work for me, it did leave me willing to read more from the author. ...more
Ashleigh Gauch
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reenu-You is a powerful post-apocalyptic alternate history hard sci-fi novella (man that’s a mouthful!) about a group of five women of color who each use a new, “natural” hair care product to relax their hair straight without needing additional products. Things turn for the worse when they each contract a nasty skin condition. The first protagonist we’re introduced to, Kat, is an African-American ski instructor who is introduced to the product by her best friend and cousin. She uses it and finds ...more
Anna Lee
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I totally enjoyed this book. In fact, I read it in a single afternoon. I am a fan of the sci-fi genre, and am always looking for new authors in the genre. I am particularly drawn to sci-fi works by women. Reenu-You, by Michele Tracy Berger does not disappoint. The air of mystery and creepiness begins in the first few pages and ramps up on every page that follows.

The story centers around something so basic as a woman's desire to change her hair style. Every woman has experienced this and done th
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In "Reenu-You" Michele Tracy Berger tells the stories of five women who have become part of a dark drama - caused by a terrifying infection or virus they have in common. I immediately became fascinated with these women -- so different from each other yet finding commonality as they are unexpectedly thrown together. Through Michele's strong character development, I could see how each dealt with their own fears and struggles while confronting the others. The story is as much about friendship, fami ...more
Jun 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Berger's novella feels like a debut work. It's slightly truncated, feels like it doesn't fully explore some aspects of itself, and could use another pass of copy editing. That said, it's also really good and shows an author with tons of potential. Putting aside the sci-fi premise, the central themes are a very complex and real depiction of the politicized nature of hair for women of color, mixed deftly with exploration of the failures of the medical, economic, and political system to care for co ...more
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Entertaining, illuminating, and thought-provoking, Reenu-You is a multi-faceted thriller, tucked into a small package. I won't say it's a tidy package, because it isn't, but that's all right with me. Stories that leave me wondering, "And then what?" are the ones that linger, providing thoughtful entertainment long after I've finished reading.

I liked the honesty of Michele Berger's characters, and the raw tension between them as they are thrown together in unforeseen circumstances. I like the sin
Fraser Sherman
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
Obligatory announcement, Michele's a friend of mine and I got an ARC. But I really liked it. A mysterious plague/mutation stemming from an experimental hair straightener leave a small group of women of color quarantined together, trying to figure what to do next and thinking about their complicated relationship with their hair (something I've read about, but it's interesting to see it dramatized). Well worth a look. ...more
Tomiko Hackett
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is fantastic from start to finish. Dr. Berger's analysis of social and public health problems through the motif of a hair relaxer which sickens those who use it makes for a fascinating--and at times infuriating--read. While it is considered science fiction, this book reminds readers of many of the issues affecting women and communities of color today. I would definitely say that you should do yourself a favor and read this book! ...more
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I just happened to pick this up as the global panic over coronavirus heats up. And if I was feeling a touch of that anxiety before, this book--a black woman's dystopian nightmare--has me ready to self-quarantine! It's brief, beautiful storytelling, funny and frightening. While it's not among my favorite genres, it's a testament to the writing that the story hooked me from the first page and I finished it in just a few hours. Highly recommended. ...more
Paige L. Christie
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I finished this well-crafted novella in just a few hours this morning, and despite the fact that it's about the beginnings of a global virus pandemic, I enjoyed the heck out of it. Set in New York City in the late 1998, it's the story of a plague transmitted through, of all things, a hair-care product! The characters are honest and layered, and despite the horror unfolding around them, hold to their humanity and distinct personalities. Worth the read! ...more
Joshua Dancer
There are a couple amazing concepts here, but unfortunately they're not explored very far (In-story, at least. The authors note at the end has a lot of good information.). Also has a lot of typos.
Ultimately it reads like an unfinished first draft, which is a shame, because it could have been a classic.
JJ Broenner
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was unique in the scenario at hand. A hair product targeted for a specific demographic of women. I enjoyed getting to know each of the characters at various age and stages in life and how the came together. There were some very sad moments along the journey but overall a serious but also fun story of hair products gone very bad.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a quick and interesting read. I felt like the story was cut a bit short and could have been spun into a longer novel format.

The premise is very original but the characters deserved more time on the page.

Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wants
This novella was stunning! A new take on racism, culturalism, and misogyny with a flesh-eating virus as a conduit. I would highly recommend this!
Jen Vanderputten
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was blown away. A truly unique and engaging apocalyptic tale: a deadly hair care product brings five women together where they find family amidst the chaos. So many feels.
Katie Winkler
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What I like best about this novella is the friendship of these five women of different ages, temperaments, and backgrounds, whose bond forms and is strengthened through adversity.
Leigh Ann
Oct 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: bookends
Book club book. Easy read. Interesting concept. It could have been more well-developed.
Eddie Hewer
Sep 21, 2022 rated it it was ok
i’m sorry dr. berger you are a great professor but i just really really don’t like your writing ;(
Karen Mccraw
Oct 03, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read from the opening paragraph

I read this for book club. Wonderful characters and interesting plot . Can't wait to read more from this author.
Victoria Zelvin
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
(For the purposes of full disclosure, I got this book via an Instagram giveaway by the Book Smugglers.)

Reenu-You is a fascinating, bite sized novel in the vein of horror/science fiction/conspiracy stories. It centers around a new product, called Reenu-You, which is aimed at black and other women of color, and therefore dismissed and overlooked as the cause of the new rashes and sickness that these women develop after using it. The medical professionals and the government waffle between willfully
May 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The author sent me copy of this novella in exchange for my honest review. This is an excellent story that weaves together racial politics, the bonds of female friendships, corporate conspiracy and speculative fiction to create an engaging and unique novella!
The story is told from the perspective of a few different characters as well as some documents that help move the plot along. Definitely don't skip the essay at the beginning of the novella either! It sets the stage and does a nice job of pr
May 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A chilling tale of hair care, epidemics, and company negligence. I'm not altogether convinced by the virus, which seems a bit convenient at times, but that's not really the heart of the story (will note, though, that the actual company negligence I can totally believe!): it's centred around its characters, particularly ski instructor Kate and aggressive go-getter Constancia, who play wonderfully against one another. Also surprisingly warm hearted considering where it's all going--but always shar ...more
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Michele Tracy Berger is a professor, a creative writer, and a pug-lover.

Her main love is writing science fiction though she also is known to write poetry and creative nonfiction, too.

Her fiction has appeared in UnCommon Origins: A Collection of Gods, Monsters, Nature and Science by Fighting Monkey Press, You Don’t Say: Stories in the Second Person by Ink Monkey Press, Flying South: A Literary Jour

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