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The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir Hardcover – April 14, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (April 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743292901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743292900
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #742,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A fresh, forthright, affecting memoir by Jamaican performance artist Chin finds warmth and humor in her abject, parentless childhood. The Paradise of the title is the slum of Montego Bay, Jamaica, where Chin spent her hardscrabble adolescence, and her remarkable memoir is framed around her mother's rejection of her and her older brother, Delano, and the uncertainty about who Chin's father really was. Born to a young, street-savvy girl with a penchant for distinguished older men with money (in this case, a local Chinese businessman who always insisted he was not Chin's father), Chin spent her early years along with Delano under the care of their stern, God-fearing, illiterate grandmother. Early on, the spirited, defiant youngster learned to lie about her parentage, while the poverty and neediness of the siblings rendered them charity cases for relatives in Bethel Town and Kingston. Once, their mother came to visit them from where she lived in Montreal, Canada, though she quickly foisted them onto other relatives for good, leaving Chin, at age nine, to fend for herself in the shack of her harsh great-aunt whose boys routinely attempted to rape her. Nonetheless, Chin excelled at school, thanks to financial help from the man who refused to acknowledge his paternity, and became an emigrant success story later in New York. Her courage in coming out as a lesbian underscores her intrepidity in making this story her own. (June)
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Review

"A completely absorbing account of how a girl born into denial and contempt can grow up resilient, sane, and full of purpose. She also shows me a culture I knew far too little about -- the everyday life of young people in Jamaica and the threat of violence looming over anyone who might be too independent or queer or outrageous. How wonderful that this outrageous, talented, determined woman has given us her story." -- Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina and Cavedweller

"Staceyann Chin's memoir is a heartbreaking feat of unflinching memory and language. Set in a Jamaica far from the tourist brochures, The Other Side of Paradise is Chin's rich and nuanced story of family and abandonment, love and brutality, and a child's struggle to survive and find a home that will accept her. A remarkable young woman emerges, whose gift for poetry has been forged by poverty, religiosity, and a circle of adults who found the child in their care. This is A Portrait of the Artist written for our age. I love this book -- and I am completely hamstrung by the feelings it evokes." -- Walter Mosley

"The human family is a complex ecosystem, a magnificent experiment of righteous diversity. The Other Side of Paradise captures the evocative struggle of one strong but fragile flower. Staceyann breaks our hearts a little, and then brings us safely, gratefully, home." -- Rebecca Walker, author of One Big Happy Family and Black White and Jewish

"Staceyann's courage, sensitivity, and bravery are exposed on these vulnerable pages. Captured is the fire, passion, and light I experience when she performs. Liberating, beautiful, and life-affirming, The Other Side of Paradise is simply incredible." -- Russell Simmons, author of Do You! --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Related Media

Customer Reviews

I loved reading this book and could not put it down.
Roxanne Leff
She fought for survival and freedom to be who she is without having to be afraid someone would punish her in whatever way they felt like.
Jennifer Coissiere "The Tough Critic"
Staceyann Chin's memoir is a story of courage, triumph and perseverance.
Jami

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Coissiere "The Tough Critic" VINE VOICE on March 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Even though I was born in Kingston, Jamaica, I never experienced the things that Staceyann Chin encountered and overcame. As I read Ms. Chin's memoir entitled, The Other Side of Paradise, I learned about places I had no clue existed in Jamaica. I also realized that Ms. Chin was a fighter from the day she was born. She fought for survival and freedom to be who she is without having to be afraid someone would punish her in whatever way they felt like. I became very emotional as I read about the way she was passed from one house to the other. I cried for everything that should not have happened to any human being; such as, abandonment, molestation, and dealing with her sexuality.

I recommend The Other Side of Paradise to anyone who likes memoirs; those who believe they cannot make it through the tough times; and most of all to anyone looking for things to be placed on a silver platter for them. Staceyann Chin is an example of what a person can achieve when they want to experience change in a positive way.

Jennifer Coissiere
APOOO BookClub
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Hadiyo Jim'ale on April 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Jamaica is a beautiful island. It is a paradise. Like every other paradise it has its other side. StancyAnn Chin takes us to the other side of that paradise. No, she doesn't write about it. She takes us there. She is an exceptional writer. She describes painful moments in moving ways so that you may not feel them so painfully yet you can move about within those moments as if you were there. Genius.

This is one of those rare memoirs you keep going back because there are events you can't fathom. And there are events that remind you the humanity of that life. That little girl on the cover who is jumping in the sun, her world is both liberated and haunted. And it is all in the irony. In the sunny homeland she encounters abuse; in the depressing winters of New York she finds strength to stand up.

What I best love about this book is the way it relates to all of us. It is not about a lesbian or a Jamaican or a woman even. It has a universal feel. Themes that we can all relate to. Nobody wants to be unloved or abused or sink into depression. If you can come back from all those things, then you can enjoy this side of paradise. The paradise within.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Darling VINE VOICE on May 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I picked this book because my husband and I lived in Kingston, Jamaica for a few years. I thought I had a good understanding of the Jamaican culture, but I really appreciated this insight to the poor of Jamaica and the kind of lives they lead everyday. I learned a lot.

This is a book about StacyAnn Marshree Chin. Her mother must have loved her to have named her Ma Cherie, wouldn't you think? Don't think too fast, or assume anything. This little girl dealt with circumstances so pathetic, with a bright light of potential that few seemed to recognize or care enough to nurture. If you are looking for a hero, look for it in the tiny little girl that was born so small they didn't think she'd live.

I will say that if I hadn't actually lived in Jamaica I may have been skeptical that such things could happen in a Caribbean tourist hub such as Jamaica. But I volunteered at an orphanage there, and I saw things that would rival the Romanian orphans rocking themselves uncontrollably. In Jamaica, life is often not fair and there are no guarantees, in this case light skinned and keenly intelligent being or not.

Stacyann Chin is one of those souls born with a quick mind and lips that sometimes betray her best interests. If you don't want to google the author by the end of the book I would be shocked. I did!

This book would be interesting and poignant without having ever been to Jamaica, though.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Annette Melhado on April 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I throughly enjoyed this book...as a gay Jamaican i could identify with a lot of the pain and angst staceyann wrote in her book...i too live with the threats and intimidations!that's why i no longer live in "paradise"...as a jamaican who lived with both parents...never having to worry where my next meal will come from or where i will sleep tonight...it make me realize just how much i take for granted and how much i should appreciate coming from a loving, caring family...the book should be an inspiration for all those young people whether gay or straight...never give up...never give up on your dreams...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Vee VINE VOICE on May 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
To say The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir is an inspirational story is putting it mildly. Ms. Stacyann Chin was born into a life of poverty in Jamaica to a mother who did not want to take any responsibly for her and to a father who denied her very existence. Her and her older half-brother were raised partly by an elderly but loving grandmother. Her mother made a brief but disappointing appearance back into their lives but left them again. Before her mother left, she separated the two siblings and sent Ms. Chin to live with another relative which became a nightmarish experience. Through all of this she was still able to excel in school. Much of her tuition was paid for by the man who claimed not to be her father.
While in college she faces confusion about her sexuality. She takes a faithful trip to New York City to visit a relative and she figures out who she really is. She comes to terms with her lesbianism and goes back to Jamaica. She is tired of living her whole life trying to please people and be something she's not so she is "out" to all of her supposed friends and classmates. Everyone shuns her and she is almost sexually assaulted by a group of her classmates but was saved by a closeted student at her school. By the end of the book she decides the only way to live openly and be who she was is to live in New York City.

The title of this book is fitting because while many people think Jamaica is all about reggae, fun, sun and sand, there are some serious issues that plague the Jamaican people, particularly the poor. Ms. Chin does a great job of illustrating how ignorance plagues this society. There is ignorance in terms of race, gender roles and sexuality.
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Writer/teller of stories. Activist.

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