‘Today Show’: Jenna Bush Hager Digs Into a Layered Storyline for February’s Book Club Pick

Jenna Bush Hager opted for a multitiered plot for February’s “Read with Jenna” selection. The Today Show star chose another debut novel where readers are taken on a journey through different locales and timeframes in a tale of mystery, betrayal, family, and a decadent dessert.

Jenna Bush Hager of the 'Today Show'
Jenna Bush Hager of the ‘Today Show’ | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Jenna Bush Hager chose ‘Black Cake’ for February

From author Charmaine Wilkerson, Black Cake focuses on siblings Byron and Benny. When their mom, Eleanor Bennett, dies, she leaves them an inheritance that involves a voice recording, a history to unravel, and a Caribbean black cake. Hager couldn’t wait to announce this month’s pick.

“So excited to share that February’s #ReadWithJenna book selection is Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson!” Hager wrote on Instagram. “This is an incredible debut novel that tells the story of estranged siblings that come together after the passing of their mother. The one thing she has left for them? A traditional piece of Caribbean black cake and a recording of her history.”

Transported through a mysterious journey, Hager relished Wilkerson’s narrative and encouraged readers to pick up the novel for a great read.

“There are so many secrets in this beautiful mystery filled with family, romance and what we inherit,” the Today star posted. “I love this book and I know you will love it too.. come read with us!”

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‘Black Cake’ author brought geographical context to her novel

Wilkerson wanted to provide a wide spectrum of perspectives throughout the story, inspiring her to include various time periods and geographical locations.

“I come from a multi-cultural family where probably no two people have had quite the same upbringing,” the author said, according to Today.com. “I have lived in a lot of places in my life so I’m always thinking about family and identity and shifting concepts of home. Those issues definitely came into the story.”

Black Cake started as a short story but evolved into Wilkerson’s first novel. 

“I’m a classic, classic case of someone who’s always read, always wanted to write, but really didn’t get around to it until fairly recently,” Wilkerson explained. “It’s really a story about the inheritance of loyalty, of betrayals, of secrets and the power of friendship, the power and possibility of second chances.”

‘Today Show’ fans are already on board

Followers of Hager know her stellar taste for stories and are sharing their excitement for her next Read with Jenna pick.

“This sounds so good,” a fan wrote. “I am from the Caribbean and we eat black cake around Christmas time.”

“Excited to read this,” another commented. “I put it on hold at my local library yesterday.”

“When I heard more about this book, I had to go out to my local B&N to pick it up,” a follower posted. “Super excited to read this.”

Hager found the novel to be quite the page-turner and knows readers will gobble up Black Cake.

“There is something almost mysterious about it,” the Today star remarked. “I was on the edge of my seat. I wanted to know what was going to happen and who these characters were.”

Black Cake is now on sale.

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