I literally dropped everything and ran to the bookstore when I heard that Jenna Bush Hager’s new book on her reading list was by author Nicole Dennis-Benn. My excitement had nothing to do with the fact that she recommended it in as much as I absolutely love Nicole Dennis-Benn. Years ago, she came to visit my school’s book club shortly following the release of her first hit Here Comes the Sun in 2016.
In Here Comes the Sun she focuses her story on Margot, a hard working resident of River Bank, an imaginary town in Montego Bay Jamaica who has her heart and efforts set on trying to leave Jamaica and emigrate to the United States. Margot is solely responsible for the financial well- being of her family and is determined to make sure that her younger more delicate sister Thandi has the opportunity to go to an elite school in Jamaica and have access to opportunities that Margot never did. There are times when she has to resort to measures that are not the most dignified but for the most part are her only options. In addition, she is also trying to carve out a life of truth for herself as a lesbian in a country that is not known for accepting homosexuals.
In Patsy, her main character Patsy has made it to the United States in hopes of reuniting with Cicely, her childhood best friend and love interest. Patsy’s setting differs from Here Comes the Sun because it is set between two worlds. Dennis-Benn’s readers get to experience all of the emotional, economic, and physical trials and obstacles Patsy encounters while trying to survive as an illegal immigrant in the United States and the hurt, hopelessness, and indignation her daughter Tru wrestles with after Patsy leaves her in Jamaica with her estranged father.
I loved this book for one reason. It was a constant reminder to not be so quick to judge someone for their life choices for there is always a story if not a series of stories behind someone’s acts. Motherhood is the most scariest “hood” I have every traveled through and I must confess that there are times when I have had thoughts that I am thankful to this day remain private.
I thought the end was tied up a little too neatly but this book was worth the read. I love the voice and experience Nicole Dennis-Benn brings to the table and I love love love the fact that when her characters speak in Jamaican Patois, their dialect is not the comic relief but a display of their rich culture. Patsy not only tackles the tribulations surrounding motherhood, sexuality, and life as an illegal immigrant, but also explores issues involving gentrification, gender identity, and cultural appropriation. It is definitely worth a read 🙂