The brightly colored, natural beauty of tropical islands can stand in sharp contrast to the social and political issues that may lurk beneath “paradise.” Sometimes paradise is only paradise for those visiting it.
Today’s featured book is presented to mirror that existence – its cheerful, breezy cover and the vacation destination in which it is set contradict the far darker reality the island residents live in…
Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you click on them and choose to buy something, it won’t cost you anything, but I’ll get an itsy bitsy commission as a thank you for sharing something cool with you.
The book: Here Comes the Sun
Written by: Nicole Dennis-Benn
Originally published: 2016
Set in a fictitious small town in Jamaica, Here Comes the Sun centers on the lives of two sisters, Thandi and Margot.
“At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate. When plans for a new hotel threaten their village, Margot sees not only an opportunity for her own financial independence but also perhaps a chance to admit a shocking secret: her forbidden love for another woman. As they face the impending destruction of their community, each woman – fighting to balance the burdens she shoulders with the freedom she craves – must confront long-hidden scars.” – via Amazon
What I love most about this book is how nuanced the characters are. They are deeply human and face real struggles, often making decisions they’ll come to regret. The glimpses we are given into their individual histories are also incredibly well done, giving depth and reason to who these characters have become in present day. Many scenes in this book will linger on your mind. In this way, the book would make an excellent book club choice as there is much you’ll likely want to discuss further.
I opted to listen to this as an audiobook and was so glad I did. The narrator does an excellent job at bringing these characters to life. (I did read in some of the reviews that Jamaicans had some issues with her pronunciation at points, so do keep that in mind if that’s something that will bother you.)
Readers who will love this book:
Those who’ve lived on an island and watched it change. If you’ve found yourself singing, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…” you will relate on some level to the crush of development felt by the villagers of River Bank.
Those who love strong, female driven stories. The women this book centers around are powerful, intriguing, and undeniably authentic.
Those who have a connection to Jamaica, or the Caribbean in general. Between the descriptions of the fictional village, the cultural references, the food, and the people, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported into a familiar world.
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Have you read this novel too? Who was your favorite character and/or storyline and why?
If you’ve read it, be sure to leave a comment below or on our Facebook page – we can chat about it and it’ll be like our own island-style book club!
If you’re a fellow island reader and would like to connect on all things books, you can find me on Goodreads. I even have a shelf of island related books, which I plan to cover in future posts like this one.