Friday, February 6, 2015
I read Sister Mine last weekend in about two sittings and will read We Were Liars this weekend. I've only had a chance to talk to one of my team members but I thought that I'd better get some thoughts down while the book is still fresh in my mind.
"The sun shining and the rain falling; the devil and his wife fighting for the coucou stick (wooden pot spoon)." My Mom would often say these words as the sun broke through the drizzling rain. I am no stranger to the dialects and beliefs of the islands of the Caribbean, so it was pretty easy for me to connect with this novel. The crappo (toad) outside our back door was some spirit of the dead come to visit. The Bahoo man lurked in the cane field and the duppie might come visit you at night if you weren't sleeping in blue. Needless to say, with my background knowledge I was transported back to my childhood days.
What felt strange though was taking the stories and images born of my native land and embedding them into a foreign land. I also found that despite my background knowledge, some threads of the story were complicated in sections. However, Hopkinson's ability to create vivid images that appeal to all the senses compensates for the complexities. Kudos toHopkins for her ability to share an important part of the Caribbean culture with the rest of the world.
I have been accused by my nieces, nephews and own children of traumatizing them with stories from my culture. You see, the stories I remember most are the ones told by my Mom on those nights when the electricity would go off and we would sit around the candlelight just before bedtime. I spent many scary, sleepless nights in panic mode. And yet I repeated the cycle with my own children. I made a promise as I started my teaching career that I would not be responsible for traumatizing any other children. Therefore, before recommending Sister Mine to a junior high reader I would consider the maturity level. For the high school level I think this would be a novel to get students talking. I can't wait to hear what the rest of my team thinks about Sister Mine.
Well I'm off to read We Were Liars. DebP.