Ok, one more then we rest for a day or so…
Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid.
This was part of my college reading list, but don’t let this scare you, it’s really rather good and not hard to read. Lucy leaves her family and her home in Antigua to work as a nanny for a wealthy white upper class family in Manhattan in the 60/70s.
It’s written in the first person – it’s based on Jamaica’s own experience – and you really get to know her, by the end of the books. Her love/hate relationship with her mother, her new life in America, her relationship with Mariah, the lady she works for, and you live with her in her search for who she is, for understanding the world she left. Lucy is confused and homesick and angry and sarcastic and most of all fierce. You’ll cheer for her all the way even when she’s not the most sympathetic person, or the most lovable. The time swings back and forth from her present life to her growing up on the Island, and the two culture are very very different.
I had never heard of Jamaica Kincaid before and I wonder why. She has a very distinctive voice and she’ll make you work though. It’s a book that needs to be read slowly because every line is powerful and mustn’t rushed or understimated.
Definitely worth it.
They had somehow all been to the islands — by that, they meant the place where I was from — and had fun there. I decided not to like them just on that basis; I wished once again that I came from a place where no one wanted to go, a place that was filled with slag and unexpectedly erupting volcanoes, or where a visitor was turned into a pebble on setting foot there; somehow it made me ashamed to come from a place where the only thing to be said about it was ‘I had fun when I was there’
I have Indian blood in me,’ and underneath everything I could swear she says it as if she were announcing her possession of a trophy. How do you get to be the sort of victor who can claim to be the vanquished also?