Two sisters are suddenly sent from their home in Brooklyn to Barbados to live with their grandmother, in this stunning debut novel. This lyrical novel of community, betrayal, and love centers on an unforgettable matriarchal family in Barbados. Two sisters, ages 10 and 16, are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados, after their mother can no longer care for them. The young Phaedra and her older sister, Dionne, live, for the summer of 1989, with their grandmother, Hyacinth, a midwife and practitioner of the local spiritual practice of obeah. Dionne spends the summer in search of love, testing her grandmother's limits, and wanting to go home. Phaedra explores Bird Hill, where her family has lived for generations, accompanies her grandmother in her role as a midwife, and investigates their mother's mysterious life.
This tautly paced coming-of-age story builds to a crisis when the father they barely know comes to Bird Hill to reclaim his daughters, and both Phaedra and Dionne must choose between the Brooklyn they once knew and loved or the Barbados of their family. Jackson's Barbados and her characters are singular, especially the wise Hyacinth and the heartbreaking young Phaedra, who is coming into her own as a young woman amid the tumult of her family.
"With a voice that can shift from the liquid brown sugar of Barbados to Brooklyn's assertive nasal tones, Robin Miles offers a pitch-perfect reading of Naomi Jackson's remarkable first novel.... What a pleasure." (AudioFile)
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My absolute favorite book of all time
Number 1. I will be hard pressed to find a book that will knock this one out of top spot anytime soon.
Phaedra because she was so sure of herself. She was an American growing up in Barbados and was treated as such and it just made her stronger. She was alert to her surroundings and new who was genuine and who wasn't and she didn't follow her sister blindly just because she was older. She asked questions. Hyacinth was the sweetest Caribbean Granny you would want to meet. She could have been my granny, firm but loving. She loved those girls and her own daughter fiercely and always acting in their best interest. She listened, observed and only intervened when necessary.
Robin Miles is a tour-de-force to be reckoned with. She captured the feel of the islands exactly. The accents rolled of her tongue like water and she could switch seamlessly between American and Bajan. Even the America/Bajan hybrid of some parts of the story came alive. She was simply wonderful. I could listen to her forever.
Of course I had an extreme reaction to this book. I cried, I cried many times. I'm hoping that is was it struck some deep chord within and that i'm not going crazy for crying over a book. I too and Caribbean American and it took me home again. I loved this book so very much, the writing was beautiful, the love between characters was even more arresting. It was a sweet Caribbean tale of love and loss and it touched me deeply
- D. Stokes