Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn

August 17, 2016
Here Comes the Sun, Nicole Dennis-Been, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Liveright  on July 5 2016
Format Read: ARC Edition (358 pages)
Genre: Adult/ Contemporary/ LGBQT
Series: Standalone
Source: Purchased at Library Book Sale
Here Comes the Sun
Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Nicole Dennis- Benn pens a tender hymn to a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas. At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate. When plans for a new hotel threaten their village, Margot sees not only an opportunity for her own financial independence but also perhaps a chance to admit a shocking secret: her forbidden love for another woman. As they face the impending destruction of their community, each woman—fighting to balance the burdens she shoulders with the freedom she craves—must confront long-hidden scars. From a much-heralded new writer, Here Comes the Sun offers a dramatic glimpse into a vibrant, passionate world most outsiders see simply as paradise.


This was an emotionally wrenching read, that explores the lives of very poor and marginalized women. I was immediately drawn to the cover of this book at a local library book sale, because of its brightly colored cover. But this book describes some dark topics. I wasn't expecting. Margot is a broken women who works to give her sister Thandi a better future, but loses herself in the process. Thandi is a very talented young women who wants to fit in and to decide her own future, but feels the weight of her family's hope. Delores is Margot and Thandie's mom, who made hard choices to survive, but who walks under the weight of her sins. All three of them have to navigate survival as tourism wrecks the community around them. The accounts of sexual abuse, betrayal, violence and sadness were portrayed in a genuine way peppered with dialogue written in the Jamaican dialect patois.
"Her imagination began to produce walls behind which she crouched in silence, closed off from the pain of the memory. She didn't have to leave this hiding place, for her imagination also produced its own food, water supply and oxygen."
The character development was great,the book slowly peels back the actions of these characters to describe the twisted reasons why. Jamaica was described as beautiful, but included descriptions of the poverty and helplessness left on its shores when tourists leave. There is a lot of sexual abuse described, but little justice given to the victims it leaves behind. Margot's sexuality is harbored as a badge of shame and dangerous in the small River Bank village, where people have no tolerance for same sex relationships. The writing was great and there was enough description of side characters to feel immersed in the community.
The main issue I had with this book, is a lack of resolution in the ending. Not every story should or has to have a happy ending, but I feel this book just abruptly stopped and I wanted more. Especially considering the sad reality of the characters, I wanted to see a future for these characters. Despite the ending I was engaged the entire time reading. This is an important book because it doesn't allow you too look away from the consequences of racism, sexism, and exploitation. If we aren't reminded by the stark reality of most of the people in the world, how else will we be inspired to change it. I would recommend this to adult readers who can handle looking at the consequences of heartbreak, through three women's eyes.


Nicole Dennis-Benn's highly anticipated debut novel, HERE COMES THE SUN, will be published by W. W. Norton/Liveright (JULY 2016). Her writing has been awarded a Richard and Julie Logsdon Fiction Prize; and two of her stories have been nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize in Fiction. She has received fellowships from MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Sewanee Writers' Conference, the Hurston/Wright Foundation, Lambda Foundation, and Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for Women Writers. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, Red Rock Review, Kweli Literary Journal, Mosaic, Ebony.com, and the Feminist Wire.

Nicole Dennis-Benn was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. She is a graduate of Cornell University and has an MPH from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. She is the Founder and Director of Stuyvesant Writing Workshop and currently teaches Writing for the City University of New York. She lives with her wife in Brooklyn, NY.

To learn more about Nicole, visit her website at www.nicoledennisbenn.com. You can also follow her on twitter @ndennis_benn.

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