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Oh Gad!: A Novel (Zane Presents) Paperback – April 17, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

A stirring novel about a woman facing cross-cultural odds and redefining everything she understands about her family, herself, and the country she's never really been able to call home. Nikki Baltimore was born in Antigua but grew up with her dad in the United States. With each year, she's grown further apart from her mother and maternal siblings, potters in rural Antigua.
Her mother's funeral brings Nikki back to the island, and, at a professional and personal crossroads, she makes the impulsive decision to stay after being offered a job by the ruling government. Soon, Nikki is embroiled in a hurricane of an existence which includes a political hot potato, confusion in her romantic life, and deepening involvement in the lives of the family she left behind. Will Nikki eventually find her place in the chaos and begin to plant the roots that have escaped her all her life?

About the Author

Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse is the author of the novellas The Boy from Willow Bend and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight; the children’s picture book Fish Outta Water; and the Strebor/Atria/Simon & Schuster novel Oh Gad! Her young adult manuscript, “Musical Youth,” placed second for the inaugural Burt Award for YA Caribbean Literature in 2014. Her writing has appeared in several Caribbean and international journals and anthologies including Pepperpot: Best New Writing from the Caribbean, In the Black: New African Canadian Literature, and others. She won a 2004 Honour award from UNESCO, the David Hough Literary Prize from the Caribbean Writer in 2011, and was shortlisted for the Small Axe fiction prize in 2012 and 2013. For more, visit or; and is the online home of the writing program she manages in Antigua and Barbuda.

Product Details

  • Series: Zane Presents
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Strebor Books (April 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781593093914
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593093914
  • ASIN: 1593093918
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,750,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Antiguan and Barbudan Joanne C. Hillhouse is the author of Musical Youth (CaribbeanReads) - a 2014 Burt Award for Young Adult Caribbean fiction, Oh Gad! (Strebor/Atria/Simon & Schuster) - a 2014 recommendation on NPR's Weekend Reads, The Boy from Willow Bend (Macmillan/Hansib), Fish Outta Water (Pearson), and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight (a new 10th anniversary edition of which was published by Insomniac in 2014). Her fiction also appears in the anthologies Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean (Peekash), So the Nailhead Bend, So the Story End: An Anthology of Antiguan and Barbudan Writing (A Different Publisher), In the Black: New African Canadian Literature (Insomniac Press) and For Women: In Tribute to Nina Simone (Black Classic Press/MZWrightNow Publications). She is included in the African American Literary Awards winning collection A Letter for My Mother (Strebor/Atria/Simon & Schuster). Her fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous journals including Artemis, Womanspeak: A Journal of Literature and Art by Caribbean Women, Tongues of the Ocean, Mythium: the Journal of Contemporary Literature, The Missing Slate, Ma Comère: Journal of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars, The Caribbean Writer, Calabash: A Journal of Caribbean Arts and Letters, Sea Breeze Journal of Contemporary Liberian Writings,SX Salon: A Small Axe Literary Platform, Poui: the Cave Hill Literary Annual, Womanspeak, and more. Hillhouse's awards include Breadloaf, Caribbean Fiction Writers Summer Institute, and Callaloo fellowships, the David Hough Literary Prize, and a UNESCO Honour Award for contribution to literacy and the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda. In 2014, she placed second for the inaugural Burt Award for Young Adult Caribbean Literature; with her manuscript Musical Youth. She's founder and co-ordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize - - promoting the literary arts among young people in Antigua and Barbuda. She works as a freelance writer and editor. Like her at Also check out

Reviews for Musical Youth:
"Although the novel is set on the Caribbean island of Antigua, the themes of alienation, colour consciousness, loneliness and communication transcend Caribbean culture and appeal to any teenager who deals with the challenges of being between childhood and adulthood. It is a sensual novel that is age-appropriate." - Debbie Jacob, Trinidad Guardian

Reviews for Hillhouse's Oh Gad!:
"There's such an authenticity to her story. I immediately knew the people, the characters she wrote about. " - Elizabeth Nunez on NPR

"Hillhouse's authorial voice is lyrical and descriptive.... Compellingly, the complexity and depth of Oh Gad! is well disguised as easy beach reading with the usual soap opera formula of romance, political intrigue, family feuds, and the like. In this way, Hillhouse masterfully transports us back and forth from our modernity into the mythic yet real seat of Antiguan culture. What we find there is fascinating. - Leah Creque-Harris, Caribbean Vistas

"The novel is largely about negotiations of identity; and it raises, inter alia, issues of family, class, history, ecology and politics...There are skillful descriptions of people, place events, traditions, and nicely managed dialogue that captures personality and mood."- Mervyn Morris, Jamaican poet

"Oh Gad! is a major artistic triumph of which all Antiguans and Barbudans can be justly proud. I certainly am delighted by this publication of this novel and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. As a work of fiction, it is beautifully written and flows like a river on its way to the sea. The conversations between the characters are well crafted dialogues, often very sharp, with verbal darts that pierce the thick armors of several of the characters.
Along with being very well written, this is a very Antiguan and Barbudan novel. Hillhouse's fiction bears and reflects the cultural marks and tensions in our society, its patterns of in and out migration and its dependence on metropolitan cities like New York. Oh Gad! very artfully encodes in its characters and plot lines rich slices of the culture of Antigua and Barbuda...we encounter very directly the cultural values, proverbs, practices, and everyday crises that make up life in our twin-island state. Many of the difficulties that challenge her characters, Hillhouse links to slave past and the matri-focal family structure that it has left us. Thus, among the major achievements of this novel is the extent to which the social and cultural life of our society gets woven into its most basic fabric.
In spite of its carefully embedded cultural riches, Oh Gad! is a character driven novel. Its characters are very well developed, clearly delineated, and very artfully kept alive by Hillhouse." - Badminded Nikki: A Review of Joanne Hillhouse's Oh Gad! by Paget Henry, editor of the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books and professor of sociology and Africana studies at Brown university, where he also holds the title of department chair.

More reviews and more at

Reviews for Hillhouse's The Boy from Willow Bend:

"The coming of age story is well crafted, lively and absolutely believable" - Daily Observer, Antigua

"...a story of the triumph of spirit over situation." - She Caribbean, St. Lucia

"The characters in Hillhouse's book feel real and best of all, they feel Caribbean, but the story could have held up in any culture." - Trinidad Guardian

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sylvia N. Hester on April 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was a rough start but once I sat down and focus I was lost in the island. It pulled you in and refused to let you go. Even though the dialect wasn't something I was used to at the end of the book i felt that I could go to Antigua and carry on a conversation with the best of them. Nikki Baltimore reminds me of anyone who felt like they didn't have a foundation to find out who they were. Going back home and finding spare bricks to build that foundation made her at the end of the day a strong woman that the people around her knew she was all along.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shontrell Wade on October 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
Oh Gad is the story of a young woman who was born in another country, but was raised in the States by her dad. She returns to her homeland of Antigua when her mother dies.

The book starts a little slow with setting the background, but, after several chapters, I found myself intrigued. The main character, Nikki, has always felt alone. She laments never truly knowing her mother, but accepts that as being her own fault. She talks of being alone in "the organized chaos of New York housed with a man who never stopped being a stranger... A man who told her he was her father, but never taught her what family was." This novel is the story of her journey to discovering herself. On that journey, she goes over potholes and speed bumps in her relationships with family members as well as several with men.

In addition to giving us the story of Nikki's finding herself, the reader is given a look into the Antiguan culture. The dialect is wonderfully written and rolls off the mental tongue while reading it. The book also touches on the subject of developing the country and its effects on the people who live there.

I rate this book a four out of five stars.

** Disclosure: I won an ARC of this book in a contest. No compensation, financial or otherwise, was received in exchange for this review.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ellenaj on September 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is definitely one of the best books I've read in a while. It pulled me in and took me on an exciting journey from New York to a beguiling Caribbean isle. The story is deep with many layers and interesting characters that evoked an array of emotions, including happiness, laughter, anger, confusion, pity and pride. A well-written book. The last time I felt this way about a book was when I read Toni Morrison's 'Song of Solomon' over 10 years ago. I developed a love-hate relationship with the main character Niki Baltimore. I was more often than not frustrated by her actions and couldn't decide if I wanted to hug her or scold her. Aeden's character is simply colourful. He felt true, real. The use of the local dialect enhances the books authenticity while the characters have universal appeal. By the end of the book my favourite character was the island. Although fictional, the book hints at the island's socio-political reality and history that leaves me wanting to know more about it. I eagerly await the author's next novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 23, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Loved this book! It was a refreshing read. This book took me back home to Antigua and was very real to me. I enjoyed the use of language as the author placed her characters. In many ways the choice to use the island's language is a statement about claiming one's own identity. I'd wondered why the title but once you read the book you will understand the title more. This book is fictional but in many ways it brings to light the realities of living on a small island in the Caribbean. I highly recommend this book .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kim or Lisa on May 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a great story. It was hard at first because it was so close to home, literally, LOL. I can relate to the main character and the more I read the more I got into the story, the more I wanted to see what happened next. The characters are believable and are complex. Although, I was supposed to hate Audrey, in the end I grew to tolerate her and relate to her.

If you are from the Caribbean, you will love this book and relate to it. If you are not from the Caribbean, you will get a view of island life.
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By Patriot on September 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is definitely Joanne's best work to date. I found the characters to be complex and their stories compelling. Joanne's portrayal of life in Antigua and Barbuda is spot on; her references to known personalities, historic and cultural events, popular locations etc. helped to bring the story to life for me. However, Oh Gad's attraction is not just for Antiguans - at home or abroad. The professional and personal challenges faced by the two main female characters are familiar to many of us as are their journeys of self-discovery. Even the incompleteness of the journeys in question resonated with me...

There's no guarantee that we'll win every battle, but once we can find the strength to keep moving forward, there's always the possibility that we'll discover something new and exciting about ourselves and/or the people who come into our lives for a reason or even just for a season. Through this story, Joanne gives her characters (and readers) permission to live and feel, to be vulnerable, to make mistakes, to love and be loved, to trust and be trusted, to be themselves/ourselves - imperfections included.

An overall good read.
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Format: Paperback
Totally enjoyed reading this book! Why? Definitely could relate to every aspect of the book - storyline, setting, culture, and most of all, the characters(all with there own distinct identities).

Love the title. Found it to be quite fitting both in reference to the coal pot, and as a general expression considering all the "Oh Gad!" moments that played out in the story. Also, loved the use of the Antiguan dialect and proverbs, very apt.

Although fiction, through skillful writing the story was powerfully evoking, and seemed real. An exquisitely beautiful reflection of reality!

Most notable for me, this is the first book I've read, that a sad moment literally made me cry (bawl lang cry wata with Audrey, during her resuscitation ordeal). Truly felt all her emotions, and all that the moment was designed to conjure up, and that for me is real deep.

Kudos Joanne! You said it took you several years to complete this book - "Oh Gad!" It was worth the wait! LOL
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