A violent entwining of the lives of rich Island tourists staying at a beach mansion and a house robber gone awry kicks off this compelling, dark narrative set on the sun-drenched island of Barbados. Debunking an external image of paradise, the plot reveals a simmering, deep underlying tension between wealthy travelers and the poverty and deprivation of the islanders. Lala, an 18-year-old who gives birth to her first child, teeters between her making a living beach braiding tourists’ hair with the hair-wrenching domestic violence of her husband Adan, a burglar who while robbing a mansion kills a tony vacationer. Greed and desperation devolve into tragedy and loss, and raw grief rushes forth from a violent gun shot to ensnare all involved. The only off note: a jarring contrast between the strong, broken island dialect spoken by the indigenous characters and those same characters’ first person told with highly literate, crystalline, and insightful resonance. But that doesn’t take away from getting wrapped up in the surprisingly twisty plot. Ultimately violence emerges the main character of this story, sweeping the island and its inhabitants and visitors into a sinister undertow in which even love cannot sustain its buoyancy.
Thanks to NetGalley for an Advanced Reader’s copy.