How To Love A Jamaican is an excellent debut that I recommend to anyone looking for a collection of stories focusing on how people relate, love, and simply navigate each other. Arthurs has the ability to set an environment and open a connection to her characters quickly. The connecting theme of how to be and embrace who you are in a world that tries to make you conform to standards and expectations that aren't what you want or who you are meant to be is evident in each story. Each story presents a different challenge and circumstance that Arthurs uses to showcase the uniqueness of being Jamaican while also showing relatable family, social, and emotional issues many of us face and can relate to. Arthurs' love for Jamaican culture is clear and shines through in her descriptive writing. She doesn't hold punches when it comes to what is good or bad in Jamaican culture, but the love is still clearly there.
How To Love A Jamaican is a really good collection and I am looking forward to hopefully reading a full length novel from Alexia Arthurs in the near future.
**I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**
Tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret—Alexia Arthurs navigates these tensions to extraordinary effect in her debut collection about Jamaican immigrants and their families back home. Sweeping from close-knit island communities to the streets of New York City and midwestern university towns, these eleven stories form a portrait of a nation, a people, and a way of life.
In “Light Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands,” an NYU student befriends a fellow Jamaican whose privileged West Coast upbringing has blinded her to the hard realities of race. In “Mash Up Love,” a twin’s chance sighting of his estranged brother—the prodigal son of the family—stirs up unresolved feelings of resentment. In “Bad Behavior,” a mother and father leave their wild teenage daughter with her grandmother in Jamaica, hoping the old ways will straighten her out. In “Mermaid River,” a Jamaican teenage boy is reunited with his mother in New York after eight years apart. In “The Ghost of Jia Yi,” a recently murdered international student haunts a despairing Jamaican athlete recruited to an Iowa college. And in “Shirley from a Small Place,” a world-famous pop star retreats to her mother’s big new house in Jamaica, which still holds the power to restore something vital.
About the Author
I'm Alexia. I was born in Jamaica, raised in New York, and grew up in Iowa City. I started writing my first book, "How to Love a Jamaican" during my first year of graduate school. I wrote "Slack" over winter break in 2013. These stories are personal experiments--my anxieties, what I think about. If you have thoughts or questions about the book, I'd love to hear from you. You can ask questions here or feel free to write me at sayhello@AlexiaArthurs.com. Please don't be misogynistic, homophobic, or unkind.
Where To Find Alexia