Booklist Reviews 2019 April #2
*Starred Review* When Patsy finally gets a U.S. travel visa in 1998, she is so sure that she is neither a good mother nor capable of becoming one that she plans to leave her young daughter, Tru, behind in Jamaica and never look back. There's something pulling Patsy, too, the promise of reunion with her girlhood best friend turned lover, Cicely, who left Jamaica a decade ago. But things quickly fall apart when Patsy arrives in Brooklyn to a less-welcoming situation than Cicely suggested in her letters. As Patsy survives the mind-numbing terror of undocumented life, stories from her past seep in to reveal her familiarity with hardship and a well of strength that is nonetheless invisible to her. Meanwhile, Tru deals with her own terror, suffering from her mother's abandonment while living with her father and his family, strangers to her at first. Ten years later, stoic teen Tru is almost undone by the loneliness of her gnawing depression and feelings of queerness, unaware that her mother, now a Manhattan nanny, shares both. Dennis-Benn (Here Comes the Sun, 2016) builds big worlds inside and outside of her touchable characters, writing through their knotty love in all its failures and mercies in this empathic intergenerational epic of womanhood and inheritance. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2019 January #1
Author of the multi-best-booked, Lambda-graced, NYPL Young Lions finalist Here Comes the Sun, Dennis-Benn boldly crafts the story of a Jamaican woman named Patsy who joins oldest friend and secretly beloved Cicely in America while leaving behind both mother and daughter. With a seven-city tour.
Copyright 2018 Library Journal.
LJ Reviews 2019 May
Dennis-Benn's second novel (after Here Comes the Sun) is simultaneously about the immigrant experience, the complications of family ties, and sexual awakening. Patsy, a young Jamaican woman, immigrates to the United States to join her childhood best friend, Cecily, with whom she's always had a special bond. Although entering on a tourist visa, Patsy has no intention of returning, even though that means leaving her five-year old daughter, Tru, behind. Cecily's reception is not what Patsy expected, and she spends the next years struggling as an undocumented worker. Owing both to guilt and her lack of success in America, Patsy fails to stay in contact with Tru, who is wounded by her mother's abandonment and grows up wrestling with her own sexuality and gender expression. Near tragedy eventually leads each woman finally to come into her own. VERDICT This work shines as an example of how cultural specificity can highlight universal themes. Recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 12/3/18.]—Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis
Copyright 2019 Library Journal.
PW Reviews 2019 April #2
A Jamaican woman abandons her daughter for a chance to reunite with her childhood friend turned lover in this wrenching second novel from Dennis-Benn (Here Comes the Sun). Adoring letters from Cicely, who left several years earlier, inspire Patsy to emigrate from Jamaica to America, but when she arrives in New York in 1998, her dreams of a romantic reunion are dashed by the discovery that Cicely has married an abusive husband. Forced to set out on her own, Patsy finds work as a bathroom attendant and a nanny. Meanwhile, Tru, her six-year-old daughter, is still in Jamaica under the care of her father, who helps to ease the girl's devastation by teaching her to play soccer, a game she excels at. Though Patsy has decided that "the absence of a mother is more dignified than the presence of a distant one," as she settles into a sustainable life over the next decade, Tru struggles with depression and self-harm. Patsy's ambivalence about motherhood transforms this otherwise familiar immigrant narrative into an immersive study in unintended consequences, where even the push Patsy's new girlfriend gives her to try and make amends, by sending a gift to Tru, leads to disaster. Out of that debacle, though, a chance for rapprochement appears, one that sets the stage for Tru to turn her athletic talent into the kind of life her mother is still grasping at. This is a marvelous novel. (June)
Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.