Book Review: Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn

Patsy, by Nicole Dennis-Benn is my second read for this month’s #CaribAThon read-along, and for June’s celebration of Caribbean Heritage Month. Once again, I am grateful to YouTube book bloggers Comfycozyup and Runwright Reads for showcasing works by Caribbean authors from 13 independent islands.

As I said in my previous CaribAThon post where I reviewed Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John, I am so pleased to be reading these brilliant new-to-me authors. By coincidence, both Patsy and Annie John centre around a mother-daughter relationship.

From the blurb about Patsy:

When Patsy gets her long-coveted visa to America, it comes after years of yearning to leave Pennyfield, the beautiful but impoverished Jamaican town where she was raised. More than anything, Patsy wishes to be reunited with her oldest friend, Cicely, whose letters arrive from New York steeped in the promise of a happier life and the possible rekindling of their young love. But Patsy’s plans don’t include her overzealous, evangelical mother―or even her five-year-old daughter, Tru.

Beating with the pulse of a long-witheld confession, Patsy gives voice to a woman who looks to America for the opportunity to choose herself first―not to give a better life to her family back home. Patsy leaves Tru behind in a defiant act of self-preservation, hoping for a new start where she can be, and love, whomever she wants. But when Patsy arrives in Brooklyn, America is not as Cicely’s treasured letters described; to survive as an undocumented immigrant, she is forced to work as a bathroom attendant and nanny. Meanwhile, Tru builds a faltering relationship with her father back in Jamaica, grappling with her own questions of identity and sexuality, and trying desperately to empathize with her mother’s decision.

Continue reading “Book Review: Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn”

Reading for the CaribAThon: Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid

This week, YouTube book bloggers Comfycozyup and Runwright Reads are hosting a CaribAThon read-along to showcase works by Caribbean authors from 13 independent islands. I can only recall reading one book by a Caribbean author, Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, who was born in Dominica. So the CaribAThon seemed like the perfect opportunity to read more books from that part of the world.

There is a brilliant range of titles to choose from. I picked out Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid to start with. And oh wow, what a wonderful read this is.

From the blurb:

Annie John is a haunting and provocative story of a young girl growing up on the island of Antigua. A classic coming-of-age story in the tradition of The Catcher in the Rye and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Kincaid’s novel focuses on a universal, tragic, and often comic theme: the loss of childhood.

An adored only child, Annie has until recently lived an idyllic life. She is inseparable from her beautiful mother, a powerful presence, who is the very center of the little girl’s existence. Loved and cherished, Annie grows and thrives within her mother’s benign shadow. Looking back on her childhood, she reflects, “It was in such a paradise that I lived.” When she turns twelve, however, Annie’s life changes, in ways that are often mysterious to her. She begins to question the cultural assumptions of her island world; at school she instinctively rebels against authority; and most frighteningly, her mother, seeing Annie as a “young lady,” ceases to be the source of unconditional adoration and takes on the new and unfamiliar guise of adversary. At the end of her school years, Annie decides to leave Antigua and her family, but not without a measure of sorrow, especially for the mother she once knew and never ceases to mourn. “For I could not be sure,” she reflects, “whether for the rest of my life I would be able to tell when it was really my mother and when it was really her shadow standing between me and the rest of the world.” Continue reading “Reading for the CaribAThon: Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid”