I don’t normally like stories with such an unreliable and morally-ambiguous character. Cheating is a pretty big trigger thing for me and I very rarely can stomach a character who partakes in cheating. Yet, I enjoyed this one. I didn’t necessarily like the narrator as a person, but I did enjoy the journey that the voice took me on. It was very… confused. Much as the decisions that were obviously being made were.
Although this does talk about the horrible death of a young woman, it’s this idea that the character is being haunted for her own bad decisions that I like. After all, she constantly states how guilty she feels about her actions. But it isn’t until the ghost of Jia Yi starts to haunt her when she’s doing the things for which she feels guilty that she actually stops. I kind of liked that feeling of retribution / a reminder to listen to your conscience.
This is a very… meandering story. It’s a bit hard to lock down what I liked so much about it. Particularly when it dealt with cheating. Yet, I found the meandering nature and somewhat perplexing storyline to be really enjoyable. And I would definitely be wanting to read this again.
This short story balances both loves that of the Jamaican on his home soil and the American immigrant. The constant flicking between that life and this is a good way to show how these two identities sit against one another for many people.
I’m noticing a bit of a recurring theme of infidelity in Arthurs’ writing. And I can’t say it’s one that I enjoy. But it does show a great understanding of the imperfections of humanity. Which I did enjoy… constantly giving me a conflicting viewpoint and emotional response.
I love how this story balances different aspects of life. And provides yet another insight into immigrant life.
I loved how this short story flicked back and forth in time. I definitely feel that it’s the case in any circumstance when you are visiting the past. It’s like a layer of juxtaposition – you see the past and all of its nuances, but then you also place that against the present which you are living. Definitely a unique journey to go on.
Arthurs not only flickers between the past and the present, but also between America and Jamaica, helping to drive home the immigrant experience that many go through. For me, an Aussie, both experiences and countries were thrillingly unique and unexpected. I loved how these totally different worlds sat nestled in the narrators experience and built an incredible picture.
Mermaid River is a story that I’m sure many people could connect to. I myself, who has no experience with either country nor immigration was reminded of grandparents and saying goodbye to the past. Definitely a sweet and wonderful short story that will transport you to another reality.
There is always something difficult about going home. But that can be made far worse when that original home is in another country with some far stricter rules. That sometimes all you want to be is a tourist in a world that you know intimately in another way.
Added to all of the emotional turmoil of this story is the fact that rhe narrator is having to deal with their sexuality. Whilst she is comfortable in it, she is surrounded by people who aren’t. I found this kind of heartbreaking. I mean, these people are supposed to be friends… but they’re just… dismissive in so many ways.
An emotionally difficult story that makes you think about relationships and coming home. And how it can be difficult to navigate different realities.
This story was just… tragic from beginning to end. I mean, it starts woth dead children. And honestly, there is nothing that gets better from there.
Now that I’ve read a few Alexia Arthurs stories, I’m getting used to her jumping around style. And for this story, it added to that feeling of tragedy. Not only are you talking about premature death, but there’s also the sadness and tragedies of those days before.
There is such a feeling of blame and fault throughout this tale. Not that I can pinpoint where the blame is supposed to lie. But it sits there. Incredibly uncomfortably.
It took me a little while to “click” with what was going on in this story. Mainly because the author is female, the narrator in the first story of this collection is female. But the voice of this story is male. Once the penny dropped (I mostly blame the delay on baby brain), I thoroughly enjoyed this.
I know next to nothing of Jamaica. Besides Cool Runnings, so nothing. It was fun to read a story that was set in everyday, familial life there. The simplicities of everyday life seem so simple, until you look at them from the outside. And I was intrigued.
There was such a powerful underlying pain throughout this story. It was about life and love, but there was also this feeling of being inadequate. Wondering why the good wasn’t acknowledged when the bad so often was. And how this maelstrom of emotions can combine into a complex, mash up love.
Each and every one of these short stories is thought provoking. They all make you pause and just THINK about what, exactly, you are reading. About preconceptions and misconceptions. About what it means to move through the world. They’re all brilliant.
I have literally no personal experience with racism and immigration. I’m white, I’m Australian, I was born here. But, I did love the moments of immersion into this different reality that Arthurs provides. It’s… intense. And brilliant.
Normally with short story collections, I have to keep reminding myself to go back. With this collection, I didn’t want to STOP. Each and every tale felt like a revelation. Revelations that I look forward to rereading again and again.
I loved this collection. It was brilliant and intense. With a wonderful edge of satire and wit that I probably didn’t expect. Definitely one that I’ll be going back to in the future.
I can’t imagine the difficulties and perils of raising a daughter (I’m about to find out and I’m terrified). But adding into that mix being immigrants and having to balance different cultures? Wow. This story was a good way to show how difficult that can be.
I enjoyed the way in which the reform for the daughter didn’t come from tough love. It didn’t come from being sent back to the “homeland”. Rather, it came about because the grandmother stopped and TALKED to her granddaughter. It was such a powerful driver to end on and a reminder that communication is important.
The jumpy nature of this story was thoroughly enjoyable. The disjointed nature of the prose felt like life. After all, things aren’t exactly straight forward in life and they certainly aren’t easy. But there can always be a silver lining.
Title: Light-Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands Author: Alexia Arthurs In: How to Love a Jamaican (Alexia Arthurs) Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!) My Bookshelves:Contemporary, Race Dates read: 31st October 2021 Pace: Medium Format: Short story Publisher: Picador Year: 2018 5th sentence, 74th page: I observed that every man she pointed to in school or around the city, men she joked about rebounding with, were all white.
Friendships are difficult. But they’re even more difficult when you come from different worlds and see everything through a different lens.
I found this story a little intense. In the best of ways. I’m white, so although I’m peripherally aware of my privilege, I’m not consistently aware of it. And I hadn’t even thought of privilege in terms of friendships. How simple it is for me to walk into a room and find a friend, because most people look like me.
I really loved the slightly jumpy nature of this tale. For me, it highlighted that friendships aren’t exactly a simple and linear thing. Rather, they do literally jump all over the place. Maybe not in time, but when you reflect, which is the tone of this piece, you think of different moments in a totally non linear order.
Having never thought about the impact of racism and racial identity on forming something as simple (or not so aimple) as friendships, I found this intense. And thought provoking. And yes, I will be reading this again.