Sweetness in the Skin

Harper. Apr. 2024. 336p. ISBN 9780063334878. $30. F
DEBUT Thirteen-year-old Pumkin Patterson lives in a small house in Kingston, Jamaica, with her grandmother, her mother, and Aunt Sophie. Pumkin has always been close to her aunt, with whom she shares a dream of moving to Paris and starting a bakery. When Sophie gets the chance to move to France, she takes it but leaves Pumkin behind, promising to come for her soon. Determined to join her aunt and leave her impoverished life behind, Pumkin uses her baking skills to earn money for the trip. Despite being thwarted time and again by her selfish mother, teachers at school, and her absentee father, Pumkin learns that those who truly care will always be there for her. Pumkin is a resilient protagonist who handles the discovery of her own identity, while dealing with issues of race, wealth, and social status, with more grace than is expected of a teenager. Her “never give up” spirit will endear her to readers from the first page.
VERDICT This triumphant and emotional debut from Robinson is recommended for readers who enjoyed Charmaine Wilkerson’s Black Cake or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing.
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