In the tradition of Zadie Smith and Marlon James, a brilliant Caribbean writer delivers a powerful story about four people each desperate to escape their legacy of violence in a so-called "paradise."
In Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, Lala’s grandmother Wilma tells the story of the one-armed sister. It’s a cautionary tale, about what happens to girls who disobey their mothers and go into the Baxter’s Tunnels. When she’s grown, Lala lives on the beach with her husband, Adan, a petty criminal with endless charisma whose thwarted burglary of one of the beach mansions sets off a chain of events with terrible consequences. A gunshot no one was meant to witness. A new mother whose baby is found lifeless on the beach. A woman torn between two worlds and incapacitated by grief. And two men driven into the Tunnels by desperation and greed who attempt a crime that will risk their freedom – and their lives.
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is an intimate and visceral portrayal of interconnected lives, across race and class, in a rapidly changing resort town, told by an astonishing new author of literary fiction.
One of 2021's Most Anticipated New Fiction
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APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Steeped in the harsh realities of race and class, Cherie Jones’ intensely moving debut novel isn’t for the faint of heart. Lala Primus knows that paradise has a dark side. The island of Barbados may be a playground for rich white tourists, but for her it’s a prison. Married to an abusive criminal, Lala’s resigned to barely making a living braiding vacationers’ hair on the beach. But after suffering an unthinkable tragedy, she finally stands up for herself—only to discover that doing so comes with a heavy price. Jones poignantly contrasts the gut-wrenching story with stunning descriptions of the island’s natural beauty. Reflecting on the social caste system that Lala’s family has been trapped in for generations is a heavy and sad experience. But How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House feels like an essential read, urging us never to blind ourselves to the struggles happening around us every day.
Jones's intense debut explores the poverty and crime in Baxter's Beach, Barbados, amid an explosive collision between tourists and locals. The place, called Paradise by foreigners and residents alike, turns out to be a living hell for two women whose lives are changed by one horrific incident. Lala, a local hair braider, is stuck in a turbulent marriage to Adan, a burglar. Mira Whalen, a former local who now lives in London, is vacationing with her English husband, Peter, at their beachfront villa. One night, Lala is on the beach, in labor and about to give birth. Adan, meanwhile, is nowhere to be found. Lala stumbles upon the Whalens' mansion and presses the buzzer for help. She hears a gunshot and Adan rushes out, an ear-piercing shriek following on his heels. A parallel narrative follows Mira dealing with the aftermath of Peter's murder by Adan, while a detective works the case, and more violence ensues as Lala and Mira's lives eventually collide. Rich characters and pulsing backstories add a great deal of flavor to the drama. Jones is off to a strong start.
This book drew me in from the very beginning. The characters stories are very sad so don’t read if you’re expecting something light and funny. It’s not dark, but it’s a bit on the heavy side.
This book had a great story plot, but the way the author told the story made it hard to follow, the author would go into long descriptions of what the character should have done or could have done, and this would last for a paragraph or two, by the time you got to the end of it, I couldn’t remember if this was something the character had really done or if it was what they were only thinking. The next thing was the author told the story from the characters speaking in there own language, so some of that was hard to understand. I also felt the ending was left to opened, no closure. Overall I was disappointed in this book because it was a great story plot, but it wasn’t told that well.
I definitely recommend this book. It kept me interested to the final scene.