You are fifteen, poor, black, and motherless as this book opens. Dad drinks, and isn’t around much. You are the only girl in a family of brothers. Having sex is no big deal, and there is one guy you really like, Manny.
Your oldest brother’s pit bull is having puppies, and you are having trouble with throwing up most of what you eat, especially every morning. Dad says a hurricane is coming, but he’s said that before, no big deal.
As this book opens, it has the feel of a myth of the nightmare kind. We know, because we have the benefit of hindsight, that the impending storm, Katrina, will be catastrophic. The Batiste family has already suffered a catastrophic storm with the death of their Mama, just after the birth of her last child. Throughout the book, we watch these children suffer the daily absence of their mother, raising one another, squabbling, but tenderly looking after one another.
If someone had told me about this book, I don’t think I would have wanted to read it. Amazon.com kept telling me I needed to read it, so finally, I did. From the opening page, I was in a world utterly alien from my own, and yet a world I could understand and inhabit. There are worse things than being poor, and one of them is heartless. This family has heart; they are loyal to one another, they look after one another and they sacrifice for one another. For all the violence – and there is a lot of violence – there is also beauty.
There is the familial love, and there is the love between Skeet, the oldest brother, and his dog, China. There is friendship, and good people who give you refuge in the aftermath of the storm. There is the stunning numbness of surviving the worst hurricane ever.
Jesmyn West has a deft touch, with the language, with the interweaving of the Medea myth, with non-verbal communication, with the complexities of families and love. This is a book worth reading.
Thank you, John Mueller for this article from The Press:
PressTV – Iran Majlis condemns merger of KSA, Bahrain
The Iranian Majlis (parliament) has condemned the Saudi proposal for merger with Bahrain, saying the “unwise” measure will further destabilize the region and multiply its problems.
The Saudi plans to annex Bahrain “will extend the Bahraini crisis to Saudi Arabia and push the region toward further unrest,” a statement, signed by 190 Iranian lawmakers, read on Monday.
The statement asserted that political force and pressure cannot silence the frustrated Bahraini people who have been holding anti-government demonstrations since mid-February 2011 and calling on the US-backed Al Khalifa family to leave power.
On March 14, 2011, more than 1,000 Saudi troops entered Bahrain to assist the Manama government in suppressing the peaceful popular protests in the Persian Gulf Island.
According to local sources, scores of people have been killed and hundreds have been arrested in the Saudi-backed regime crackdown.
In a report released on April 17, Amnesty International criticized the Bahraini regime for continuing the violation of human rights and the excessive use of force against the anti-regime protesters.
“The authorities are trying to portray the country as being on the road to reform, but we continue to receive reports of torture and use of unnecessary and excessive force against protests. Their reforms have only scratched the surface,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director.
The Iranian lawmakers concluded by expressing their “all-out support for the brave nation of Bahrain as well as the independence and territorial integrity of the country.”
Saudi Arabia is reportedly seeking to merge with Bahrain in line with plans to unify the six Arab member states of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC).
The council members, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, are expected to meet and discuss closer union among the six countries on Monday.
In December 2011, Saudi King Abdullah called on the council member states to move “beyond the stage of cooperation and into the stage of unity in a single entity.”
However, some members of the council have expressed concern about Saudi Arabia’s possible dominance over the other five countries if the [P]GCC becomes unified.