It is my turn to post a review for this incredible debut novel from the wonderful Kereen Getten and Pushkin Press. Having watched the hype for this title increase on Twitter, I made the exciting request on Netgalley and luckily was approved. Diving in, I was immediately transported to the heat of Sycamore and the small community of families who live and work together.
This debut novel is stunning in setting, characters and emotions. Highly evocative and atmospheric I could see and feel the sights of Sycamore, the banana groves, the sand and ocean and I felt a connection to this small community who stick together through good and bad.
This incredibly powerful story of Clara and her emotional outbursts stems from her lack of memory from the previous summer and her tumultuous relationship with cousin Gaynah. Always arguing, competing and teasing each other, it is clear this relationship is at the heart of the story and the memory loss.
Surfing, playing pick leaf and staying out of the intense heat is all part of their summer holidays. This year, something is wrong with Clara and the entire community know and urge her parents to seek help. Over the course of the book, I speculated on what I could imagine would erase memories and the results were always sad. As I continued to read and get to know Clara, I wanted her to share the secret, show me what happened and I wanted to help her understand.
When a huge storm threatens the island, Clara is sent to fetch her Uncle Eldorath, the “witch doctor”. These are just rumors of course but it is he who will unlock the secrets creating the anger in Clara and teach her to overcome the hurt and guilt she is bottling up. With tears flowing as I came to the realisation, I felt all the emotions as Clara finally let go. The tears didn’t stop until long after the ending- which causes tears for a different reason- a completely enchanting story and one which will have an everlasting effect on me.
This beautiful story continues to enchant readers and the hype remains on social media- as it should. Certainly a top pick for me for 2020!