These Ghosts are Family by Maisy Card

Publication Info: Expected publication date March 3, 2020 by Simon & Schuster. I read the Kindle edition, courtesy of NetGalley. Other editions will be available at time of publication.

Summary: When the novel opens, we meet Stanford Solomon, a man living in Jamaica near the end of his life. Stanford’s guilt over something he did in his past is catching up with him. With his wife recently deceased, Stanford decides to confess a huge secret to his partially estranged family: he is not Stanford Solomon. Long ago, he seized an opportunity to change his life by abandoning his real identity, his much hated job, and his first family, when the real Stanford Solomon was killed.

As the stories of Solomon and his family unfold, we learn that he’s not the only one with secrets. This is a family of flawed people, who are just trying to survive. One daughter is a heroin addict and the other works in New York as home health care worker, struggling to raise two kids alone. His first wife had an affair and an abortion.

Meanwhile, another woman is about to get a shock. After signing up for a DNA website, Debbie’s father gives her his her great-great-great-great grandfather’s journal. Harold Fowler owned a plantation in Jamaica in the 1800’s. Her ancestors once owned the ancestors of of people she’s never met — Stanford Solomon (aka Able Paisley) and his family. She also realizes that they are distant cousins. She finds the emotionally detached and violent information in Harold’s journal to be very disturbing. She can’t get the images out of her head.

In a non-linear style, the author continues to reveal more about the history of both families, drawing the reader deeper into the Jamaican culture and the ongoing effects of slavery.

Comments: This was not an fast and easy book to read. Aside from the dialect (which I would have loved to hear in an audio format), the book jumps between various voices and timelines. I had to slow down my usual reading speed, or risk missing things.

These Ghosts are Family shook me out of my white, urban comfort zone and gave me a emotionally complex glimpse into Jamaican history and culture.

Recommended for book clubs and discussion groups, readers of Literary Fiction and those interested in Jamaican history, culture and slavery.

My Rating: 4 STARS

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