If I Never Went Home by Ingrid Persaud has been awarded the AIA Seal of Excellence in independent fiction. Read our reviewer’s 5-Star review below!
ABOUT THE BOOK:
“Written in two distinct, alternating voices, If I Never Went Home follows ten years in the turbulent lives of two narrators – thirty-something Bea, an immigrant in Boston, and ten-year-old Tina in Trinidad – as they separately navigate devastating losses, illness and betrayal in their quest to belong.
Moving back and forth from the present to the past through flashbacks, this is the powerful story of how these women unearth family secrets that go beyond anything they could have imagined. Then unexpectedly their lives collide, and they are offered the chance to create a home. But can this gamble survive one last surprise about Tina’s real identity?”
This is essentially a coming of age personal drama, which not only explores loss but also touches on abuse. Furthermore, it is about two young women struggling to find themselves, a place where they feel they can belong. The narrative opens with a successful clinical psychologist interviewing a distressed young man, but quickly flashes back to Bea’s own battle with clinical depression years before. Each chapter switches not only between times, but also between the characters Bea and Tina. This fast switching demands the reader’s focus and concentration, but it is certainly well worth the effort.
This book had me laughing aloud on a number of occasions; it also caught me frowning deeply in sadness and sympathy. I read this book in two sittings, and only put it down the first time because it was after one o’clock in the morning. I found the frequent naming of (the by now) familiar characters annoying at first, and then quite frankly insulting. However, this is the biggest negative about this book, and settles down about 10% of the way in. Get past this minor detail and what you will find in your hands is a real gem.
The book is approximately 300 pages in length. Each chapter, and even between paragraphs, the reader finds themselves following a new character and different time frame. On all but one occasion these switches are indicated, and it does become easier as the people and places become more familiar. Heavy use is made of Trinidadian Vernacular, but in my opinion this is written so true to the ear, it serves to pull you further into the scene, and is easy enough to understand. The book is well presented, clearly set out and has been proof read to an excellent degree. The characters are highly developed, and the narrative laid out so well I had a movie playing in my head as I read. I literally forgot I was reading for long stretches at a time.
Set within a backdrop of the Caribbean, this is a compelling story that is written from the heart. This is a tale with which every woman can identify, and filled with passion and intellect the narrative never once loses pace. This book will give you an insight into the life of a close knit Trinidadian society, and touches lightly on some issues that might be considered taboo. A number of lines were written so beautifully I was deeply impressed, with the author doing a wonderful job of not only avoiding well-worn clichés, but offering something fresh and vivid instead. This new author has fallen straight into her stride with her debut novel, and steps forward with a strong and well-rounded voice. This book is aimed at the adult reader, and if you enjoy gritty true to life tales of life, love, heart ache, courage and perseverance, then you will love this story. By no means action packed, it nevertheless has the power to easily grab your attention and hold onto it, right until the final page. So much so, that I wasn’t ready for the book to end. For me, this novel has that magic something that sets it apart from others of its kind.