It’s about three women, Margot, her younger sister, Thandi and their mother, Dolores. Margot hustles at a resort in Montego Bay to send Thandi to school. She trades her sexuality for survival and she’s determined to shield Thandi from the same fate.
Dolores finds herself at the markets in Falmouth every day to sell souvenirs to survive. She’s desperate to maintain her relationship with her youngest daughter knowing it will never be the same with Margo.
Thandi is tired of the pressures placed on her to academically succeed and decides to explore her own ambitions. When plans for a new hotel threatens their village, each woman will fight to balance their burdens whilst confronting the scars they each bare.
After reading Patsy I knew that I was going to check out Nicole Dennis-Benn’s other book as soon as possible.
And, I saw so many reviews on ‘Here Comes the Sun’ that I formed my own judgement of it from the start.
Rather, I thought I had a rough idea of the plot and knew it was going to be something I loved.
This novel surprised me. It wasn’t anything I expected it to be.
This novel was so beautifully written. The description was carefully crafted and presented to make the reader feel like were also suffering under the sweltering Jamaican sun. It was the perfect pace because I didn’t feel as if the novel was rushed. Dennis-Benn didn’t hold back on the difficulties of growing up as part of the lower class in Jamaica. The oppressive dynamics of race, sexuality and class were greatly discussed. She wanted the reader to understand the hardships they faced and it was really a sharp reminder that some women’s realties are so very different to my own. Growing up in the west can skewer your vision of the world sometimes.
I have to commend writers that not only take me into the novel but they also force me to reflect on my own life. It’s so difficult to do but Dennis-Benn did it effortlessly. I connected with the characters. My heart ached for Margot. I wanted to cry for Thandi. And slap the hell out of Dolores. It was definitely an emotional rollercoaster that I haven’t stopped thinking about.
As an older sister myself, I could really connect with Margot and her overprotectiveness of Thandi. Their relationship was definitely more dramatic because I felt like Margot was also trying to take on a mother role too. But that desire to see your younger siblings do so much better than you is something I understand. You get so frustrated when you think they’re deviating from a great path but it’s about understanding that they also need to learn to make their own mistakes. It’s the only way they can really grow.
I mean, I can’t imagine how parents must feel with their kids. It’s probably ten times worse.
The fact Margot literally sold herself to survive broke my heart. I can’t imagine how that must feel. I just wanted her to be happy but I recognised that to be gay in Jamaica can be so dangerous. My heart ached for every bad decision she made because she felt like there was no other way. Out of all the characters Margot definitely stuck with me.
I wanted to cry for Thandi. The self-hate she was experiencing was devastating. She truly believed she was ugly and it only emphasised just how much of a problem colourism is in society, especially in developing countries like Jamaica. The bleaching epidemic was a direct result of colourism, which is the child of racism. I feel like, especially in the UK, there’s more of a direct action against colourism. Black women are ready to affirm the darkest of skin tones and I believe we’re moving away from that ‘slave mentality’. So to read about Thandi, only reminded me of how much I’m going make sure my own children understand that black is beautiful regardless of the shade.
I wasn’t sure where Thandi got this idea that she was too dark from. I assumed it was because she witnessed how Margot was treated in Jamaica and the privileges combined with the male attention Margot got as a result of her lighter skin tone. It proved to me that Thandi’s self-hate was a result of the indirect actions of the society around us and of those, who were simply a product of the many generations that carried that ‘slave mentality’ down through their descendants.
It was also a sharp reminder that just because the Black community over here seem to be working on overcoming colourism doesn’t mean it’s the same everywhere else. Countries that have a history of slavery will probably have long-lasting effects because racism was entrenched into society.
I was glad that Thandi attempted to seek her own path that wasn’t ruled by her sister and her mother. The pressures placed on her to be the vessel of hope out of their lower class status was way too much for someone so young. The fact she grew to resent the way they controlled her was inevitable. But, I was not expecting that ending for Thandi at all.
As for Dolores…I don’t even know what to say about her. I just thought she was evil and completely ruled by money. But it was a reminder that some will do anything and everything to get money. I may not be able to understand why she did what she did. I also don’t think I would have made the choices she made. But then again, I’m talking from a position of privilege. But, she sacrificed her relationship with her daughters for money and that’s what blows my mind.
This was such a beautiful novel that really explored the dark sides of Jamaica that tended to be masked by it’s picturesque beauty. Jamaica is more than just a holiday destination with beautiful beaches and incredible hotel resorts. Nicole Dennis-Benn really explored that notion. The only thing that I’ve noticed is that Dennis-Benn tends to portray all the men in her novels as bad, confused or downright evil. I don’t know if that’s meant to be a theme but it’s just something that really sticks out to me.
One of the most prominent and painful lessons of ‘Here Comes the Sun‘ was how the cycle of exploitation can repeat itself. It’s literally a survival of the fittest in this post-colonial Jamaica. How do you break a cycle that’s been active from generations and seems to be integrated into society?
It seems impossible and perhaps, explains why many see leaving Jamaica, for countries such as the UK and the US, as the only way to break that cycle.
Anyways, this was a great novel that I would recommend to anyone that thinks the plot sounds interesting. You most definitely won’t be disappointed.
It’s a reminder that the countries you tend to glamourize and go to visit for their picturesque beaches and hot sun always has deeper issues. Putting on your sunglasses and parading by the beachfront won’t hide them.
Most importantly, despite it’s significance in the world, please don’t place money before other more important things in your life such as your family, friendships and even, your happiness.
J Cole (Work Out) – ‘Money can’t buy you love, cause’ it’s overpriced.’
Also by Nicole Dennis-Benn: