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Fruit of the Lemon: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, January 23, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 339 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (January 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031242664X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312426644
  • ASIN: B0031MA8BK
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Levy's follow-up to the Orange Prize– and Whitbread-winning Small Island explores how racism reveals itself to a young British-born woman of Jamaican descent, and how the pain can be healed by knowledge of one's roots. Faith Jackson is having a rough go after college: she's fired from her apprenticeship at a prestigious textile designer's and her parents are planning to move back to Jamaica. Though Faith has experienced racism throughout her life, she begins to fear her ethnicity will hobble her career. As she becomes more aware of subtle forms of racism at her entry level job in the BBC costume department and elsewhere, she witnesses a hate crime and, in its aftermath, is sent to Jamaica by her parents for a helpful holiday. It's there, in the second half of the book, that Faith learns a great deal about her extended family and understands why her parents may want to return. Unfortunately, the tone shifts, and what was effective through understatement becomes a rushed unfolding of her family history, complete with diagrams of who begot whom. The change in voice and the narrator's issues with island life (particularly her frustration with its culture) obscure the more poignant aspects of her newfound knowledge. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—This book is divided into two major sections. First, readers learn about the protagonist, Faith, and her family's life in England, and that her parents had emigrated from Jamaica on a banana boat, arriving at West India Dock on Guy Fawkes Night and really only knowing England from what they'd learned in school. Life is not exactly as they'd planned it, but over time Wade and Mildred adjust to their new home, get jobs, buy a house, and start a family. They are proud of their children, especially Faith's work in the costume department at BBC, but Faith, who is a credible but sheltered young adult, isn't quite so pleased, as she becomes aware of the hidden and public racism all around her. She decides to visit Jamaica, and the book moves into its second section. Faith meets the family she has known only through letters, photos, and the stories her parents have shared with her. Listening to her Aunt Coral's tales provides her with insight into her parents' lives that she never could have imagined. She makes connections with the people and places of their youth and returns to England with a different perception of her mum, her dad, and herself. None of Faith's Jamaican relationships seems to be deep, but readers sense that maturity is just around the corner, perhaps once she reconnects with her family in Britain.—Joanne Ligamari, Rio Linda School District, Sacramento, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

Interesting, stimulating, worthwhile reading.
Lynn Galvin
This book could have been so much better if the author wouldnt have watered it down with fillers .Long repetitive descriptive parts ,pointless dialogues.
Buns
Her writing is fluid and vivid -- I could picture the characters, scenery, and the moods and vibes perfectly.
Pretty Brown Girl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Pretty Brown Girl VINE VOICE on February 26, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Faith Jackson is the daughter of hardworking, conservative Jamaican immigrants and grows up in a moderate middle-class environment. She, like many others, assimilates into a society that does not fully embrace those that are "different." All her life, she has grappled with some form of scrutiny and eventually develops a blind eye and deaf ear to racial slurs and stereotypes that she experiences routinely, even from her "best friends." For example, as a child, she is openly teased by white schoolmates that her parents journeyed to England via a banana boat. Faith discovers with much embarrassment that in fact, it is true. Despite prodding questions to her parents about their past life or relatives in Jamaica , they remain tight-lipped and dismiss her inquires with abrupt answers or sucking teeth. Talk of the past seems to be a taboo subject, so Faith eventually stops asking at a very early age.

Unfortunately, Faith swallows the British culture, music, and mindsets whole because it is all she has. Under the guidance of her parents, she adapts and employs survival techniques: she learns to smile, dress appropriately, talk properly, and project a non-threatening persona, but there is never any guidance for dealing with racial injustice or prejudice against non-whites. Having recently graduated from college, she is struggling with racial discrimination at her workplace. Couple job stress with a local hate crime, Faith's overload of internalized angst forces her into an emotional "breakdown" stemming from years of frustration, pain, and anger with no outlet or coping skills to handle such prejudices.

Her parents enlist the aid of Aunt Cora, her mother's sister in Jamaica , to entertain Faith for a two-week holiday abroad to rest and forget about things for a while.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Richard Cumming on January 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
The daughter of Jamaican migrants, Levy writes what she knows and what she knows is the experience of the diaspora of former British colonies as they try to become a part of "white" British society.

Levy writes with nuanced subtlety. Her 2004 novel, SMALL ISLAND brought her international acclaim. Now, we can look back at her earlier work. This novel, written in 1999, just came out in the US.

Levy takes some pages from her own life to form her protagonist, Faith Jackson, a young woman whose parents came to England from Jamaica in 1948. Faith lacks a sense of her family history. Her parents have worked hard to scratch out a middle class life.

Faith is the naive nestling leaving the nest for the first time. She has a new job and 3 white roommates. Her naivete' is slowly replaced with disillusionment as she finally comprehends the racism inherent in British society. Levy experienced the same thing. Born in England and being asked: "Where are you from?"

Faith suffers a breakdown. Her parents step in and send her off to Jamaica where she finds family and a sense of her place in the world. She puts down roots.

Levy tells a lovely and inspiring story.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
At twenty-two, Faith Jackson is enjoying her new found freedom, sharing a flat with three roommates and a new job in the costume department of the BBC, secure in the knowledge that her parents are her staunchest supporters. Faith is more than a little shocked when her parents announce their possible intention leave England and return to their homeland, Jamaica, since both their children are grown and able to take care of themselves. Precipitously aware of her fragile place in a society still struggling over the legislature of basic civil rights for all, the casual racism that surrounds her rears its ugly head, Faith subjected to the random ignorance of her white friends, the carelessness with which they disparage the blacks in society with hardly a thought to Faith's reactions: "I knew he wasn't prejudiced. He loves animals." The stupid and insensitive remarks grow increasing irritating to Faith, who has so far isolated herself from the bitter truth.

The gradual rift widens, sundering Faith's easy security. Witnessing a random act of violence against a black female shop attendant and patronized at her job since a questionable promotion as the only black dresser, Faith pulls back from this suddenly unfamiliar world, where race is etched inescapably into daily events with casual cruelty. Betrayed on all sides, Faith abruptly withdraws, unable to contend with the demands of the world around her: "I didn't want to be black anymore. I just wanted to live." Thanks to her parents' wisdom, Faith is sent to Jamaica for a two-week visit, submerged in the riotous island culture with her Auntie Coral and Cousin Vincent. There she receives a much-needed introduction to family history, Coral disclosing the secrets of the family tree.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Aidan Meyers on April 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Fruit of the Lemon promises to be a unique take on the issue of a British-Jamaican woman's journey to discover who she is. The book is separated into two sections: the first half in Britain, the second half in Jamaica. The first half of the novel is excellent. It is darkly humorous, yet contains some truly powerful scenes, including providing insight into both the subtle and overt racism in Britain.

Unfortunately, when Faith (the protagonist) travels to Jamaica to meet with her relatives for the first time, the novel's quality sharply drops off. Levy completely changes her narrative style in this section, with each chapter containing a section where one of Faith's relatives will tell her a story. These stories come off as very disjointed, and the reader is never given an opportunity to truly become attached to any of these secondary narrators. Levy posits that Faith has grown through her experiences in Jamaica, but, since most of the second half of the novel is simply someone else telling her a story, Faith's "growth" appears extremely rushed.

This novel had promise, but I would recommend something else.
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More About the Author

Andrea Levy was born in England to Jamaican parents. She is the author of four other novels, including Every Light in the House Burning (1995), Never Far from Nowhere (1996), Fruit of the Lemon (1999), and Small Island (2005). Small Island won both the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction: Best of the Best. Selling over a million copies worldwide, Small Island was also adapted for the small screen in a critically acclaimed series that aired on BBC and will debut on PBS's Masterpiece Classic on April 18 and 25, 2010. Levy lives in London.


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