Swimming With Fishes is a quick read set mainly in Jamaica, focusing on the love affair between a pair of ill fated lovers. Although I was able to read Swimming with Fishes quickly, I did have issues with the story. I did not particularly like either Kat or Ben as characters. They both came across as selfish which made me unsympathetic to their particular emotional pains. I somewhat understood Kat's desire for a child, but I did not like her actions. At twenty eight years old, Kat should be well aware of the consequences of her actions, and should have been able to make better judgments at several times throughout the story. Once Kat knows that she is not just Ben's lover, but his mistress, her decisions and behavior could have been less self serving. I understand being in love with someone and dreaming of a possible life with them, but I do not understand sacrificing your own self respect and disregarding the pain inflicted on other people.
Ben is no better with his weak integrity and self pity, which I find unattractive in a romantic lead. I don't accept general unhappiness and disquiet with the way his life has played out as an excuse to cheat on your wife and children. Ben actually thinks that because Kat is his first affair while a friend of his has had many lovers, that he isn't so bad. No, sir Ben. No, sir. I admit that I am biased against weak willed, self pitying cheaters who refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions; so the character of Ben didn't have a really good chance of gaining my sympathies.
Another issue that I had with Swimming with Fishes is that the dialogue felt stilted and the dialect of the local characters was written in a way that was a bit off putting. The way the secondary characters were written seemed to emphasize how well educated Kat is and that she is somehow smarter and more sophisticated than the majority of the people in her life. Ben, being British born and educated, is her ideal soul mate, and is in fact predicted for her by a local woman who can glimpse the future. The story is populated with stereotypical characters that you would expect to find in a close knit community. A nosy gossipy neighbor, a stern mother with strong religious beliefs, and a sassy straight shooting best friend who is willing to dish out tough love to Kat when needed.
Unfortunately, Swimming with Fishes was not a great read for me, but I think that I would pick up a second book by Rasheda Ashanti Malcolm to see if her writing moves in a different direction.
**I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.**
Set in rural Jamaica, Swimming With Fishes evokes the pain of a love
affair between a London-born businessman and a native Jamaican and
how that affair grows beyond either of their expectations.
Sickle Cell Anaemia sufferer, Kat wants a baby more than life itself.
When the town herbalist foretells of a man from across the ocean who
will father her child, Kat’s hopes intensify into a dream that must come
Her encounter with Londoner Ben years later edges the prediction toward
reality. Their friendship develops into an all-consuming love to which
they both surrender. However unknown to Ben, Kat is a sickle cell
sufferer and unknown to Kat, Ben is already married.