I picked up this book at a vendor table while at the Harlem Book Fair. I had never heard of the author and the cover wasn’t particularly attractive but after reading the back, I checked the price. I figured for $3, it was worth it. It was.
From the back cover (modified)
It is 1937, a dangerous year in the Dominican Republic, where Haitian laborers are useful , rather than welcome; tolerated, but not trusted. Amabelle, a young Haitian woman orphaned at the age of eight, is a faithful servant to the wife of an army colonel…There are rumors that in other towns Haitians are being persecuted, even killed….the nationalist madness erupts, and terror engulfs them.
I enjoyed this book from the beginning but about half way through “the slaughter” (as the Haitian characters in the book refer to it) begins and the book really takes off. Killings are described in detail and it often made me think back to the horrors described in Left to Tell. Although graphic, the story is written in a way that it’s not too much.
All of the characters find themselves faced with the most challenging decisions of their lives. How long would you wait for the love of your life to return if he or she went missing? What would it take for you to betray someone to whom you’ve always been loyal? How much could you take before your faith in your God waivered?
One thing I really like about this book is that the last several chapters came together nicely. The conflicts of all of the characters come to some sort of resolution. The end of the story truly felt like the end of the story. But it left me wanting more from Danticat.
I decided to do a quick search on Haitian genocide because after finishing Their Eyes Were Watching God I remember learning that one of the major events discussed in that book was based on a fact. My search revealed that the slaughter was unfortunately a real event as well.
Danticat’s most recent book, Claire of the Sea Light, will be released August 27th.