I made the mistake at first of trying to read these stories altogether in one go, and when one started to blend into another I felt myself zoning out. So I put it down for a few days, read something else and went back to How To Love A Jamaican with the plan of reading one at a time, amidst other books. I’m really glad I did because each story is a gem in itself, a slice of life. But they definitely should be read slowly, one at a time.
This is Alexia Arthur’s debut collection, and I just love how she weaves life, the meshing of cultures, humanity, and heartbreak into each story. Some of the stories are based in Jamaica, others in the US (NYC or the Midwest), others in both countries. On the surface, one story might seem similar to the next, but in reality they are not at all. Each one deals with life in general, whether that be family, love, school, human nature, or a mix of all of that, and everything ties back to Jamaica, and being Jamaican. I love how the author naturally uses Jamaican Patois in the narrative, as well as some typically Jamaican sayings (I had to Google “hisses her teeth” for example, as it comes up quite frequently in the collection and I wanted to see if it was a common saying).
Some of the stories struck me more than others, and I cried during the one where the protagonist goes home to bury their grandmother, something I did only a few years ago and I know how hard it is to lose a loved one when you live so far away from your home country. All in all this is a lovely collection of belonging and not belonging, and searching for home, and I definitely recommend reading it! Also, the cover is gorgeous, and is perfect for the book.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy!