Young Fay Myrtle lives in a shack outside a Jamaican plantation until her sister moves her to the Greenwichtown ghettos. Lonely and confused, Fay struggles every day to survive in the face of desperate poverty. Despite her squalid surroundings, she receives an education and grows into a strong woman. But when she loses the man she loves, she has no other choice than to find work off the island to support the twins she leaves behind. Greenwichtown is an emotionally stirring novel from a powerful voice in Caribbean-American fiction. Fay’s fate closely mirrors that of so many islanders, who must "go foreign" simply to provide for their families. Author Joyce Palmer enriches her book with vibrant descriptions and narrator Robin Miles perfectly voices the colorful dialog.
I absolutely loved this story! I was immediately pulled in by the author's authentic, child-like prose of Fay, the main character, and by the superb narration of Robin Miles. Her performance was fantastic. She brings this book to life with a convincing Jamaican dialect that I would not have been able to imitate in my own mind. For this reason, I highly recommend enjoying the audio version of this book. The story touched me so deeply, however, that I plan to purchase a hard copy as well, and re-read/re-listen to this book for years to come.
This story is full of heartache and hope, injustice and resilience. Fay escapes a life of poverty in the country as a small child, only to endure poverty and abuse in the city slums. Her perpetual state of hunger is heartbreaking enough, but after moving to the ghetto with her older sister, she must now face the underbelly of society: desperation, corruption, danger, and death. Her only solace is attending school, where she thrives in hopes of achieving the grades she needs to obtain a decent paying job and break the cycle of poverty in her family. She encounters many obstacles along the way, and some are quite hard to digest. The choices her sister makes are infuriating at times, and for most of the book I sort of despised her. They have a complicated relationship, but in the end it appears that she does love Fay and wants the best for her.
This is an eye-opening glimpse into the part of Jamaica not glamorized on tv. I loved how the author includes tough issues like women using their bodies to survive, religion mixing with mysticism, police brutality, various types of abuse, etc.
The author and narrator take us on a journey as Fay comes of age and must make some difficult life decisions for herself. These decisions set the course for her future, which is not without sorrow and loss. Towards the end of the book I felt like there were some loose ends that could have been tied together more. It felt a bit rushed, but this is a minor flaw, or perhaps it simply went against my personal preference. Regardless, this book stole my heart.