The Islands: Stories

Highbridge Audio. Feb. 2023. 6:13 hrs. ISBN 9781696609944. $19.99. F
Chanté McCormick smoothly narrates Irving’s (Quint) 10 stories centering on women from the Jamaican diaspora. Rooted in various countries, including Canada, Jamaica, Panama, and Germany, this must-listen collection details how classism, colonialism, and assimilation affect the lives and interpersonal relationships of the characters. In one story, a couple with high debt leaves California for Florida, hoping to save their marriage. In another, a woman returns to Panama decades after leaving during the 1964 Flag Riots to settle the affairs of her family’s former maid. McCormick deftly uses various accents throughout as the stories move beyond North America. Her direct delivery, regardless of the setting, is a perfect choice for characters at a crossroads. The standout is “Some People,” in which Kerry, the American-born child of Jamaican immigrants, reluctantly invites a fellow PTA mother and family to a home-cooked Jamaican dinner at her suburban home. McCormick’s vocals seethe with indignation and, later, resignation as Kerry realizes during the meal that she has become the type of person her mother talks disparagingly about: someone who has lost sight of her culture.
VERDICT These stories will resonate with listeners and are excellent for book clubs. Pair with Omolola Ogunyemi’s Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions.
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