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3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  2,574 ratings  ·  195 reviews
The coming-of-age story of one of Jamaica Kincaid's most admired creations--newly available in paperback

Lucy, a teenage girl from the West Indies, comes to North America to work as an au pair for Lewis and Mariah and their four children. Lewis and Mariah are a thrice-blessed couple--handsome, rich, and seemingly happy. Yet, alomst at once, Lucy begins to notice cracks in t...more
Paperback, 164 pages
Published September 4th 2002 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published October 22nd 1990)
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This was a short book, and I read it in one night, but it will take several more readings for me to really decide how i feel about it. I do really like this book. But sometimes, I feel like Lucy lives in my skin, and sometimes, I don't know who Lucy is at all. This book was so beautifully written, with such a complex character. But it is so short. It needs to be to hold its sense of poetry, but it left me wanting more detail. This is a book that will make you work. Be prepared to read it slowly....more
Crystal Belle
this novel moved me in so many ways i cannot even begin to explain it in enough words. first of all it's about a young caribbean woman from antigua who is 19 years old. she moves to the states to work for a wealthy white family. now although new york city is never mentioned as the setting, it is clear that the novel takes place in nyc. the descriptions of the city with all of its beauty and ugliness are riveting and forces one to take a deeper look at him/herself. in many ways this novel is a st...more
Kristina A
I have read other Jamaica Kincaid novels and loved them, and I would love to teach her but haven't found the right place for doing so, particularly because Kincaid's style is quite abrasive. When I found out LUCY is about an au pair, I thought it might make a great companion to JANE EYRE, esp since Kincaid is clearly influenced by Bronte. Then, almost as soon as I started reading it, I came across the following passage, which I found completely awesome, but which is the kind of thing that I woul...more
Lisa Kelsey
A powerful and taut read. I'm surprised to see a lot of people didn't like Lucy because she was "so angry." I found her a very poignant character. In a sense, I think she is an unreliable narrator, she is clearly angry--and has good reason to be. She is also really hard on herself, but we the reader should be able to read between the lines. She demonstrates that she has very intense feelings--and aren't love and hate two sides of the same coin? Kincaid manages to explore many themes here with br...more
This is a strong book. I love it for its consistent voice and the author's willingness to dare the reader to dislike the protagonist. She is difficult and caustic and full of anger, and what interesting 19-year old isn't? What product of the post-colonial west indies wouldn't be, especially when faced with the excess and first world problems of her host family/employers?

Ultimately, however, the great thing about this novel is Kincaid's ability to present the overlap of the political and personal...more
Kelly Junno
From a literary perspective, I found Lucy endlessly fascinating. I bought it at a used book sale because I had read Jamaica Kincaid's poem "Girl" for a class and liked it. The novel is something like 160 pages, but is written so deliberately that it could elicit endless discussion. It is poem-like; its story is told by its form as much as by the words themselves. No description, lots of action, gets right to the point. I admire this sort of writing as I myself find it so hard to do, but so effec...more
why do people think that because you're a woman, or gay, or from Barbados that your voice is somehow more important? being that the author is Caribbean, was the reason i had to read this coming-of-age crap, that's supposed to be fresh and important.

the rub is that the voice isn't new. it isn't special, and it surely doesnt scream of a location. Lucy is just your usual angry teenager who is angry about almost everything to the degree that all of her anger becomes flaccid and predictable. her onl...more
This was a very short read - it took me just a couple of hours to finish it last Friday. But as much as I enjoyed the story and Kinkaid's beautiful, original and poetic writing, I absolutely loathed the main character, Lucy. Such a weird and unlikeable character, oh my! I felt like I didn't know her at all, and at the same time I had no desire to get to know her a bit better, either. So, yeah, I'm having mixed feelings about this one.
A quick and good read. She's a master at subtly sharp one-liners:

"When I finished telling Mariah this, she looked at me, and her blue eyes (which I would have found beautiful even if I hadn't read millions of books in which blue eyes were always accompanied by the word 'beautiful') grew dim as she slowly closed the lids over them, then bright again as she opened them wide and then wider."

"Mariah says 'I have Indian blood in me,' and underneath everything I could swear she says it as if she were...more
The eponymous heroine of Lucy (1990) is a slightly more grown-up version of Annie John (i.e., the titular protagonist of Annie John, the 1985 novel that first introduced me to author Jamaica Kincaid). Whereas Annie John was in her early teens, Lucy Potter is a ripe 19 years old; she has just moved out of her parents' house in the West Indies and is about to embark on her first job, as a nursemaid for an upper-class white American family. Like Annie, Lucy's observations of the world around her ar...more
Dayle Lynne
Apr 18, 2013 Dayle Lynne rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dayle by: Jared
I’m having trouble putting my feelings about this book into words. Lucy is a 19-year-old girl from Antigua who comes to America to work as an au pair. She is far from likeable, though she is honest and that much I respect. You get snippets of her past that fill in the blanks to a much larger story and offer a very real explanation for her personality.

This is another one of those books that I believe requires discussion . . . one of those books that makes me wish I was reading it for school or as...more
An engaging, uplifting, and disturbing tale about a West Indian girl of 19 who escapes an oppressive, impoverished family situation to become a nanny for a wealthy urban family in an unspecified northern city in America. She loves the children and befriends the mother. Despite the clash of culture and class and the potential to be taken advantage of, she maintains her sense of integrity and independence and transmutes her anger into sarcasm and fantasy. This is not the typical coming of age stor...more
A lovely little story which can be read in 2-3 hours. Told in the first person we follow this 18 year old from her home, somewhere in the West Indies, to her new employment as an au pair somewhere in North America. Neither of her homes is specified as to their location. Lucy has not had a good relationship with her parents, but seems to fall in love with everyone else she meets in North America. The prose is well crafted and flows nicely creating a simple but pleasurable story of a young person...more
I felt myself getting angry at the narrator's stupid decisions and hating some of her viewpoints. She talks about all the women who chase after her father, and how many children he'd sired, but never expresses anger at him for being a bad father. She does take the time to get angry about memorizing Wordsworth's "Daffodils" (which isn't the greatest poem, to be honest), though. I'd rather be angry at a promiscuous man than a long-dead poem, but of course, her anger about the poem represents her a...more
Lucy works as an au pair for a loving family. They treat her well, they give her room and board, they encourage Lucy to make friends, they take her own vacation, and they even get her a museum pass. Lucy doesn't like her father, and she despises her mother, because she feels less loved than her brothers. She grew up in Antigua and now lives in upscale New York.

So, uh, why is Lucy such a whiny brat?

The beautiful prose doesn't make up for Lucy being an unbearable teenager. As the only human on Ear...more
Carol Rizzardi
Honestly, I didn't really like it even though I gave it three stars. I didn't like the voice. It reminded me of What is the What, which I also didn't like because of the voice. That in itself is strange because I am very liberal, yet I found the unapologetic angry voice disturbing -- even though intellectually I understood its origins.

Still, when an author can move you to emotion through the written word -- whether it's anger or sympathy, joy or sadness -- it's the mark of a great writer.

I won't...more
I read this book as a teenager and was very impressed by it. When I re-read it a few weeks ago I was slightly disappointed. I think she has grown a lot as a writer since Lucy was published, and her more recent work is much more nuanced. I absolutely loved listening to a podcast of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reading Kincaid's recent story in the New Yorker, "Figures in the Distance," and look forward to reading more of Kincaid's future work. Here is a link to the podcast:
Wow. I can’t believe I never read Jamaica Kincaid before this. I know it’s not fair to compare her to Naipaul but I feel like I’ve finally found another author who can bring out broad themes of colonialism, growing up West Indian, immigrating etc. in a character’s personal development. Additionally, as one would expect from a female author, there are a lot more nuances and examinations of femininity and sexuality and female roles in society. Her language itself is impeccable along with the way s...more
Manuel Palacio
There're a few books that I can think of that had a profound impact on me: Zami by Audre Lorde, I read it in my early thirties when I had a strong believe in the power of my dick although I would not admit to it. I prefer instead to retreat to a humble role and blame love for the quivering orgasms we were putting out - misguided,clueless stuff but bare with me- Then came Audre Lorde's amazing Zami , in it she reveals how it feels to have control and bliss without the penis. At times Audre Lorde...more
A curious little book, both aimless and captivating, perhaps a little sentimental as well as being evocative in equal measures. I'm having trouble placing this bildungsroman book exactly into words, and my immediate comparison is with the novels of Jean Rhys. Not only do they have their brevity to connect them, but the criticism that the 19 year old protagonist Lucy is far too 'angry' strikes up a parallel with much of the protagonists in Rhys' novels; that alongside with the themes of sexuality...more
If I'm not mistaken this novel is told from the perspective of the daughter of Annie John, the narrator of the previous novel. The voice of Lucy rings true in this piece, coming from a teenager who makes big pronouncements and jodgments about people and life in general. If the reader understands that then the novel works well. If not, Lucy comes off as an arrogant self righteous jerk. She is mean to Mariah, her employer, who tries to be friendly with her. She jusdges her own mother harshly, refu...more
Lucy is one of those books that excels in fitting a strong narrator voice, a captivating story ful of unique description, and subtle hints of major issues all in a short span of time--and it is all done brilliantly. Lucy tells the story of a nineteen year old immigrant woman, taken from her world of a British ruled Carribean and questionable mother into a world of luxury and freedom. Only she's not the one living the life of freedom, but instead serving those who live in it. In subtle hints, lik...more
Laajimi Hayfa
At some points reading this master piece , i was relieved , finding the same thoughts i have , better said the process of analysing things! Jamaica made things understood the way it should be , explaining point of views the way she saw unlike average people
It was well written ,dark , twisty , daring and full of courage , she knew who she was , mistakes she made and cleared enough synchronizing with her life events , the adult woman she is becoming .
what attracted most was the voice i was reading...more
I'm more than a little bit ambivalent about this work but in the end I gave it the rating it might garner if viewed as a YA read.

Quite dispassionately, this is the "longest little book I've ever read". It is really more of a novella: in fact, probably just a longish short story, but it goes on forever. And ever. Or so I felt. Like those false endings in movies, when you think the end is near, and then they throw in another ending, this one could have ended 5 chapters ago, and one wouldn't have m...more
This is the second Kincaid work I've read, and though this reading experience has been very different, I find myself coming away with the same mix of admiration, shame, bemusement, and woundedness I felt upon finishing A Small Place. This book will hurt you with precision; it's a quick read that leaves a series of tiny, subtle scars.

The prose is gorgeous, a melding of (mostly) simple phrasing and complex rhythms whose wrought-iron form coldly restrains a driving fury. Kincaid is the best I've ev...more
My lasting & personal impression of this book: how difficult it must be to know someone who will show you a mirror of yourself, so clear and unforgiving, that you are not allowed to hold on to even the smallest illusions. How difficult, and how amazing.
Oh, I *did* like this. Lucy wasn't a *nice* person but she was a good one, and the people around her recognised that and loved her for it. Lucy's awareness of the racial difference and distance between her and her host family was well-drawn, and the close first-person narrative made it impossible to avoid dealing with race, but also made race very present and easy to trace. I can see why the teacher set this novel for a swiss matriculation curriculum, AND I liked it a lot.

I don't mean to suggest...more

So good.
Nov 18, 2007 Jessica rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ues nannies
Sammy made me read this.
It's been a couple months since I read it but yet I am still compelled to put my thoughts about this one into words.

I read this in one day. And not just because the book is small. No, Kincaid masters language in such a way that draws you in until to your surprise, you've finished yet another chapter. With this language she deftly explores multiple themes: adolescence, family, colonialism among others.

What struck me the most about this book is that Lucy may be the first literary woman who I hav...more
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Jamaica Kincaid is a novelist, gardener, and former reporter for The New Yorker Magazine. She is a Professor of Literature at Claremont-McKenna College.
More about Jamaica Kincaid...
A Small Place Annie John The Autobiography of My Mother My Brother At the Bottom of the River

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