ANNA IN-BETWEEN by Elizabeth Nunez

Book Quote:

“I should have told you that a long time ago.” Her mother rests her back against the pillows. “I should have told you how beautiful you are,” she says softly.

When Anna was fifteen, the brother of one of her friends from school held her hand and said, “You are the prettiest of my sister’s friends.” She felt a surge of irrational happiness then. This is the feeling Anna finally recognizes in the confusion of emotions that swirl through her. Will they talk now? Will they have closure?

But the timbre of her mother’s voice changes, the softness that was there evaporates. “I’m sure I didn’t need to tell you that,” she says. No emotion, a chastisement even.

Book Review:

Review by Ann Wilkes ( NOV 14, 2009)

SPECIAL:  MF Author Interview

Anna In-Between is a novel about an unmarried, Caribbean woman in her late thirties, Anna Sinclair, who begins to understand herself as she comes to understand her parents. The novel explores issues of caste, race and culture in a moving, deeply poignant tale of mother and daughter. Anna goes back to the island of her birth as she does every year, but this time she stays for a month to spend more time with her aging parents. Her mother, Beatrice, reveals to Anna that she has a lump on her breast – one for which she has not sought treatment. Beatrice has not even mentioned it to her own husband, though she knows he sees it. And he doesn’t say a word about it, either. He respects her privacy. The whole “elephant in the living room” thing is hard for a modern American to comprehend, especially when we’re talking – or not talking about – a life-threatening disease.

Anna grew up in an upper-class neighborhood among Englishmen who didn’t accept her because of her black skin. In New York, she doesn’t quite belong either, being from a very different culture and lineage than most Afro-Americans, with her Amerindian, European, African, Indian and Chinese blood. And the influences of the New York culture over time make her feel even more alien when she goes home to the Caribbean to visit.

Beatrice fights against social mores and long-held Victorian tradition in order to accept help for her cancer. Still, she can’t bring herself to travel to the States to better medical facilities and doctors because  blacks are still second class citizens there.

Anna’s insecurities come through as she analyzes her mother’s every word and gesture for hidden meaning. And hidden meanings abound, but are not outnumbered by her mother’s overt manipulations and judgments. Anna’s extremely convincing inner dialog felt like something beyond truth, more raw and intimate.

Nunez draws on her recollections and experiences from growing up in Trinidad to weave a sensual sense of place throughout the novel. When I read Daphne DuMaurier, I wanted to go to Cornwall, when I read Eugenia Price’s St. Simons Trilogy I wanted to visit St. Simons, Georgia. Now Nunez has infused me with longing to see the Caribbean and get to know its people that have such a rich and tumultuous history.

I highly recommend Anna In-Between, especially to women, because Nunez captures the mother-daughter dynamic so well. And to anyone who struggles with finding where they belong.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 4 readers
PUBLISHER: Akashic Books (September 1, 2009)
REVIEWER: Ann Wilkes
AMAZON PAGE: Anna In-Between
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Allbc page on Elizabeth Nunez

Akashic Books page on Anna In-Between

EXTRAS: interview with Elizabeth Nunez
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: More Caribbean authors:Edwidge Danticat

Nalo Hopkinson

Donna Hemans

Jamaica Kincaid



November 14, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: 2009 Favorites, Caribbean, Class - Race - Gender, Family Matters, Latin American/Caribbean, Literary, y Award Winning Author

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