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Land of Love and Drowning: A Novel Paperback – July 21, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—The Virgin Islands is the main character in this debut novel. St. Thomas, like its inhabitants, comes of age after it transfers from Danish to American rule in the early 1900s. Distinctive multiple narrators tell the story of the wealthy Captain and his beautiful but "wild" wife, Antoinette; his daughters, Eeona and Anette; and his son Jacob, conceived with his mistress. When Bradshaw's ship sinks, taking the lives of his crew with him, the island and his family are changed forever. Eeona longs to escape the islands, Anette craves the security of a committed relationship, and Jacob falls in love with the wrong woman. History is reflected in their lives and times: when World War II breaks out, Jacob and his friends head to the mainland as soldiers only to face a racism that did not exist at home; the rise of civil rights on the mainland fuels a growing rebellion on St. Thomas. Mature themes weave throughout these stories, including sexuality and incest. Recommend to teens who enjoy strong characters, a tumultuous historical time period, and a setting that embraces music, madness, and Caribbean magic.—Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Praise for Land of Love and Drowning
“Yanique has written the best kind of summer read—lurid, yet layered and literary.” —NPR
“A feat of tropical magical realism.” —Vanity Fair
“Sink or swim is the guiding theme in this fantastical, generational novel.”—Marie Claire
“Lush.” —USA Today
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That's some powerful storytelling, folks.
It's the kind of story-telling that I love, too. The incorporation of myths and gods, of tall tales and history; the weaving of all of these things until you don't know (or care) what is true and what's not. Add into it real events dealing with parts of the world I had never even heard of and... well, it was a heck of a story.
Still, there were some flaws. I wasn't gripped by the first 100 pages, in fact, I dabbled with putting the book down and not finishing it at all. While it was interesting, it was very strongly dealing with some issues that made me more than a little uncomfortable. As the book progressed, I understood more that it was more about symbolism and feminine power - but still, that's hard to grasp in the opening chapters of a book, especially if the story is one that's not often told. I have absolutely no doubt that people with a broader worldview than my own or more knowledge of the culture and society living in the USVI may view this differently. I'm just a single reviewer and, while I appreciate the education and feel enriched by the story, it doesn't take away from the fact that I had to push myself to get past those first 100 pages.
I think Yanique is going to be an author to watch. She tied the civil rights movement in to the lives being lived in the USVI in a way I've never seen before. She talked about characters that were familiar to me from my readings in other areas (Western African literature and Native American). I was thrilled to see a version of the trickster that I don't come across often being spoken of and I was entranced by the idea of the duane.
More than anything else, LAND OF LOVE AND DROWNING has kindled a curiosity in me about the USVI and the British Virgin Islands. I want to know more and, if the other books I find that take on these subjects and the locations are only half as good as LAND OF LOVE AND DROWNING, then I consider myself fortunate.