First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
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 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, told by an astonishing new author of literary fiction.
And another challenging week is finally done! For fellow accountants like me, we made it through yet another month end closing. Today is also the last the first Friday of June, the sixth month of 2021. Who’d have thought that five months would pass that quickly. It feels like a lot has happened and yet not that many has happened. Living in isolation for so long does make one feel like time is a mere concept. Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well in these challenging and uncertain times. I hope and pray for everyone’s wellbeing, for everyone’s healing. With this, I am also one with the entire world in praying that this pandemic will end soon.
But before we can move to the weekends, it is time for another First Impression Friday update, my first for June. In May, I immersed in the works of Latin American and Caribbean literature. However, since I wasn’t fully able to dig deep into this part of the literary world, I have decided to extend it this June, starting with Barbadian writer Cherie Jones’ debut novel, How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House. At the start of the year, while browsing for books to include in my 2021 Top Books I Look Forward To, How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House was a title that kept popping up in similar lists. The book’s title was enough to pique my interest, hence, its inclusion in my own list.
Thankfully, I didn’t have a challenging time procuring a copy of the book. Nearly six months into the year, How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is my first novel from my 2021 Top Books I Look Forward To List. I got more excited about the book after it was shortlisted for the 2021 Women’s Prize For Fiction (I have already read three novels from the shortlist). Set in Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, the novel charts the story of a cast of interesting characters, beginning with Lala and her grandmother Wilma. The prologue introduces the readers to a younger Lala to whom her grandmother related the story of the One-Armed sister. It is a cautionary tale, which, I surmise, foreshadows, or looms above the narrative.
The narrative then moved forward a couple of years into the future. Lala was married to Adan, a sketchy character to say the least. However, as Lala’s story unfolded, more characters are thrown into the fray and I can see that a grand picture is being woven from these bits and pieces. Baxter Beach has turned into a microcosm of criminal activities as dead babies surface from the water, robberies take place; criminality was ubiquitous. I am trying to connect these details to the tale related by Wilma to her granddaughter.
I admit that I am having a challenging time making sense of the direction Jones is stirring the narrative to. The story is supposed to be about the consequences of colonialism, of how a young nation is grappling with its impact several years later. There is just a few characters but I am also having a challenging time making out their voices and their stories. The narrative did remind me of Maryse Conde’s Crossing the Mangrove but on a different scale, structure, and voice. To be fair, I have always had a challenging time fitting the pieces of literary fiction. But I am still midway through the story and I am hoping that these pieces of the narrative will start making sense.
How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to and I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe, and happy weekend!