I really liked this book and it may be one of the best novels I read this year. It is a slow build until the middle and then the second half takes off and finishes at a faster pace.
This is the story of two siblings who come together to hear a revealing recording of their Caribbean mother’s untold story after her passing. We hear about their experiences as well.
Mixed seamlessly throughout are many social issues like racism, abandonment, female strength, gambling, adoption, patriarchy, ocean environmentalism, coming out, motherhood, cultural diaspora, and more. Like a family whose skin has many hues, people have various things they have to deal with.
Here are a few bits I marked to share with you:
- “‘You need to know who you are, and where you are at all times. This is about you, finding and keeping your center. This is how you take on a wave. Then you might find… that the wave is simply too much for you. You might decide you are not cut out for surfing and that’s all right, too. But you cannot know which of these is true unless you go out there with your head in the right place.’ This was true of surfing and it was true of life, his ma said.”
- “If you want to surf, don’t wait to find someone out there who looks just like you before you go surfing. And if you’re interested in something like chemistry or biology, don’t wait for someone to give you permission. Just go ahead and study and apply for programs where you can, because we need more talented young people, of all kinds, and you can’t win if you don’y play.”
- “Are you going to let someone else’s view of who you are and what you should do hold you back?”
- “Because baking a black cake was like handling a relationship.”
- “Question yourself, yes, but don’t doubt yourself. There’s a difference.”
- “What Benny had learned from her mother was to rely on her own instincts and go on from there.”
The writing here is well done, while sometimes a bit circular and repetitive. Regardless of that, I think this was a good read, and give it five stars. From where I sit hearing so many people’s problems, you never really know what most people are going through. This book is a good reminder of that. I recommend Black Cake, when you are in the mood for a thoughtful story a woman overcoming her obstacles. Plus, I love the cover!