Ingrid Persaud | Trinidad and Tobago
Ingrid Persaud NAILED the Trini dialect in this book! If I love nothing else, I LOVED the way she captured how we speak, how we picong (joke) with one another, the entire vibe of Trinidad was spot on. Persaud has written a book that is wholesome in its exploration of love, loneliness, culture, friendship, pain, rejection, longing, fear, and sadly, homophobia. Each of these themes are so potent throughout the book, your emotions are constantly shifting from laughter to sympathy to anger to shock.
Betty and Solo are mother and son who live by themselves after the death of her husband and Solo’s father. Mr. Chetan, a teacher at the school where Betty works in administration, accepts her invitation to live with her and Solo as a tenant and the three of them eventually evolve into an unlikely family, where they share their secrets, their everyday lives, their fears, and their trust. But it is one secret that will fracture their family, and another secret that will help heal them.
This book is a beautiful ode to Trinidad and Tobago culture. From the dialogue in Trini speech, to the detail descriptions of cooking all kinds of East Indian foods, to liming with friends, to the way we celebrate Indian weddings. I was taken back and reminded of how truly multicultural home has always been.
Persaud explores homosexuality in Trinidad and Tobago in a way I’ve never read before. She gives a very realistic account of the heartbreaks, loneliness, terror, rejection and estrangement that LGBTQ people mostly likely face in small communities across the Caribbean. She puts a face to the emotions and flaws and reveals the ugliness that’s still growing in the hate toward queer individuals. For me as a reader, she humanizes same sex relationships in a way that I have not read in Caribbean books before.
However, at the core, this book is about love springing up in unexpected ways between people who become family through understanding and grace. You will be left with many deep emotions, be they good or bad or both, but Persaud has written a book that I now consider a contemporary classic in Caribbean literature.
First published: 2020
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