It seems like every time I begin one of this posts, I start off with, “It’s been a while…” So I promise I won’t say it this time 🙂
I’ve been thinking recently about my heritage. I was born and raised in the Commonwealth of Dominica (different in location, people and language to the Dominican Republic), one of the lushest most beautiful, mountainous, forested Islands in the Caribbean. Therefore my heritage includes the Indigenous Kalinago people (or Caribs) on my mother’s side and the black Caribbean on my father’s side.
Anyway my sister told me about this novel written by a Dominican author- Marie-Elena John- titled, Unburnable.
I finally read it! Why did I take so long?
The book is about a Dominican born Lillian living in America, who goes back to her native land to face the ‘demons’ of scandal and secrets that have tormented her throughout her life. Now I must say that I the harshest critic of things concerning me, so this book was read without bias.
This book was literally unputdownable! A word misused by reviewers obviously paid to say nice things about a particular piece of writing. I love the way it was written. I’m a visual person, so if I have difficulty imagining what I’m reading, I may (won’t) not finish the book. But it only took me one day to do so. The heart wrenching stories of these three women, Mathilda-the grandmother, Iris-the mother and Lillian-the daughter were very well interwoven.
I think what I most loved about the book was that I was reading about my own. The descriptions of the Dominican Catholics, reminded me of real people and stories from my grandmother-a staunch catholic (or as she would say ‘poto cyatolik!’) in terms of behaviour etc. When Lillian said, “To be catholic was not so much a religious denomination, it was more like at ethnicity” I understood that. When Lillian explained that Dominica was not the same as the Dominican Republic, I could relate to that! And when the scene of ‘professional wedding goers’ was described, I did that! So a lot of the book felt relate-able.
My only criticism is open ended finish of the book. I hate being left hanging unless I can make up the rest easily or I can tell, the second part is coming up. The ending felt a bit ‘hurried up.’ Such a sad story needed a more suitable end. I’m not saying there had to be a happy ending, but at least some closure for Lillian and the readers like me who immersed ourselves on this emotional roller coaster of a book. I Felt the injustice for the Carib people, was sad when Simon wouldn’t listen to Mathilda, disgusted when John saw Iris at the Wedding for the first time. When John’s mother in law and her sisters took revenge on Iris, I had to take some tome to compose myself before carrying on, etc. So for such a deep story to end the way it did, was a bit of a disservice to the book.
However, it’s still one of the best books I’ve read in a while. My Rating: 4 out of 5
So I’ll be doing some reading into my country My Ancestral line etc and will be posting some of my thoughts and findings as they filter through.
I’ll be reading another book based in Jamaica-The book of the Night Women, by Marlon James. I’ll be reviewing that one as well.