Takes us on a wonderful multifaceted journey through the lives, loves, pleasures and atrocities of the folks of Lazarus Gardens and Jacks Hill. There is an impressive choral quality to What a Mother's Love Don't Teach You, with voices that shift with remarkable ease and seamlessness, between lyricism, humour and rawness. A very impressive achievement.
Taylor portrays a complex web of Jamaican characters in settings ranging from tenement yards to mansions with an authenticity that radiates throughout the novel. Set in an important time in the island's history, it's a colourful portrayal of a young man searching for his soul, the two mothers desperate to claim him, and the ultimate sacrifice one has to make. A wonderful debut novel.
In the opening chapter of What A Mother's Love Don't Teach You, Dinah describes her home, the tenement yard at Lazarus Gardens, as a place where, "is like everyday, the water have to decide if to come inside." In essence, the novel is about just that: choices. Written in alternating voices - sometimes Jamaican patois, sometimes Standard English - Sharma Taylor reveals how and why the choices of the denizens of Lazarus Gardens necessarily differ from the choices of Jamaica's uptown folk. Taylor's great accomplishment is how she captures the darkness of the ghetto while never dimming the vivacity, determination and exuberance displayed by its people. This is a thrilling read.
Pulses with the colour and cadence of Jamaican culture in a multi-layered story told with empathy and intelligence. It is both an elegy of great elegance and a testament to the resilience and optimism of Jamaican people. Sharma's skilled storytelling drew me into the heads and hearts of the residents of Jacks Hill and Lazarus Gardens and did not let me go. I'll never forget this cast of characters or the voice of this accomplished writer - an outstanding debut.
An astonishing book. In riveting, irresistible prose, Sharma Taylor's genre-crossing novel (a love story, a crime story, a yard fiction) tells a tale of Jamaica and America, of class, colour, race, history and the dignity of the dispossessed. The authenticity of its detail produces a searing truth that convicts us. The largeness of its vision challenges our ideas of what it means to be human.
Truth-telling! Taylor's debut is tender, violent and uncompromising in turns. A vivid and authentic Jamaica that tells a tale too often hidden, for fantasies of sun, sea and sand.
A sharp polyphonous story in which Taylor skillfully moves the reader through a world pulsing with pain, love, power, violence and tenderness. We are reminded of that tension between where we come from and what we gravitate towards, what steers us and why. An exciting read.