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Fruit of the Lemon

3.47  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,189 Ratings  ·  134 Reviews
From Andrea Levy, author of Small Island and winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year and the Best of the Best Orange Prize, comes a story of one woman and two islands.

Faith Jackson knows little about her parents' lives before they moved to England. Happy to be starting her first job in the costume department at BBC television, and to be sharing a house with friends, Faith
ebook, 352 pages
Published January 23rd 2007 by Picador (first published 1999)
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Apr 14, 2012 Bee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I see this was Levy's first book, which certainly explains the disappointment I have with it, as well as the pleasure I took in the descriptions and fluid writing style.
It took awhile to get into the story. I liked it best when Faith starts narrating how she relates to her brother, Carl, the moments when she notices that even her best friend's family see her as different, the visit to Simon's parents home, the realisation that she is a token black dresser at her workplace.
You can see her confusi
Sonia Gomes
Fruit of the Lemon is a sketchy effort to portray the lives of Jamaicans in the UK, Jamaicans seem to have no effect on the English especially the youth, which we know is not so true. Andrea Levy just skims around the chapters disjointed with hardly any continuity.
The redeeming feature however,in my opinion, is when Faith (the protagonist)realizes with a deep shock how little the immigrants particularly the Blacks mean to the Whites, her struggle to move to a different department, her sorrow to
Shivanee Ramlochan
Excerpted from the full review:

"While reading ‘Fruit of the Lemon’, it became quickly apparent to me that I was in the hands of a startlingly evocative writer. Levy rarely ‘lays it on thick’ – there is none of that overindulgence, poorly executed, in exposition, description or plot progression. The ingrained racism Faith endures uneasily in England, her incremental malaise and mistrust of her own complexion, are subtly enforced at every turn, ‘til we feel like buckling beneath the pressure, ours
Mocha Girl
Oct 11, 2009 Mocha Girl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Faith Jackson is the daughter of hardworking, conservative Jamaican immigrants and grows up in a moderate middle-class environment. She, like many others, assimilates into a society that does not fully embrace those that are "different." All her life, she has grappled with some form of scrutiny and eventually develops a blind eye and deaf ear to racial slurs and stereotypes that she experiences routinely, even from her "best friends." For example, as a child, she is openly teased by white school ...more
Apr 25, 2011 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really really liked this book! It's fluid, interesting and easy to read. You get sucked into the story of Faith Jackson a Black British young woman with parents who emigrated from Jamaica. This is the story of Faith really discovering who she is and where she comes from. A completely relateable story as we all have that life defining experience when we stop and question, who am I really? Where did my family/ancestors come from? It's about Faith seeming to live in a sort of confusion or shadow ...more
Jun 06, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fruit of the Lemon is Levy's third book and last before her break-out with the novel, Small Island. In an interview with the Guardian, she categorized her first three novels as a her "baton race" and I suppose this is evident throughout the novel. Stated herself, " Anyone reading my books could say, 'Well, she got a dictionary there,' and 'She got a thesaurus at this point.'" Despite all this, I found the book wholly enjoyable. In particular, Faith's parent's Jamaican patois is entertaining and ...more
i also read small island, the author's other book. this book was a quick read. there were some things that bothered me - it starts out as a story and once the character gets to Jamaica, the book becomes stories told about family members. the concept is good, it's about a young Jamaican woman in england who knows nothing about her roots. she returns to Jamaica to learn the history of her family. i don't identify with her a lot - i think if i was more sympathetic to her actions, it would have been ...more
Jenny Yates
Jun 19, 2009 Jenny Yates rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story about discovering one’s roots. The hero is a London girl whose parents emigrated from Jamaica. All her life she’s been conscious of her differences, experiencing a vague tension that only occasionally becomes blatant racism. When she is in danger of becoming overwhelmed by it, her parents send her back to Jamaica. There she finds a place where she fits, and a whole lot more branches to her family tree. It’s light, funny, clearly observed, never shallow, and well worth reading.
Theresa Leone Davidson
Fruit of the Lemon is about a young Londoner living apart from her parents, still very close to them, but trying to make her own way in the world. Her parents are from Jamaica, and the story includes the racism directed at the main character, Faith, even from people with good intentions. That pretty much sums up the first half of the novel; the second half is about Faith's first ever trip to Jamaica, where she meets family and finally finds out details about her parents, their parents, life on t ...more
Kirsty Potter
Aug 02, 2015 Kirsty Potter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uni
I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately the blurb made it sound a lot more enjoyable than it ended up being for me. I thought this had a great premise, a young Jamaican girl learning about her heritage and growing proud of her ancestry, perhaps a bit like The Joy Luck Club. The prologue was intriguing enough - but then we fast forward to 22 year old Faith, and all the mundanities of her post-graduate life. I could see that the author was trying to paint a realistic picture of life for a ...more
Fruit of The Lemon is a well written piece of adult fiction. The protagonist in this story is Faith. She lives in England, but she is born of Carribbean parents. Faith’s parents came to England from Jamaica. Faith’s life changes when her parents decide to return to Jamaica to retire. Faith’s life had began to fall to pieces, so it was decided that Faith would go to Jamaica too to stay with her aunt Coral.

Fruit of The Lemon is told by different narratives including Faith’s life in England and al
Liz Chapman
Apr 11, 2014 Liz Chapman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this story and the more I read it the more intrigued I became with the characters. It tells of Faith Jacksons childhood in London , happy with her friends at school and successful enough to go to University. Faith feels that her family home is too controlling and moves out into a shared house and gets a job in the costume department of the BBC. It is then that she starts to become aware of racism at its worst ,and questions how her friends really see her. Faith's parents announce that th ...more
Levy's second novel. I like the first half, where the protagonist in London is starting out on a career, leaving the [London] home of her Jamaican-born parents. Levy writes with a light hand, there are bits of humor. Nice contrast between the situation and attitude of the protagonist and those of her brother.
She is startled when she gets wind of her parents' intention to retire to Jamaica, where she has NEVER been, though her parents' families all still live there.
Her parents send her to Ja
Lisa Stewart
Jul 03, 2015 Lisa Stewart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Small Island and the Long Song, so was pleased to find another Andrea Levy book in my local charity shop. Realised after I finished it that she wrote it BEFORE those other two outstanding novels, which explains why I found it a bit disappointing. As with her other work, I loved the descriptive language, and the rich historical storytelling, however the characterisation was weak in this one and the story a bit disjointed. The protagonist Faith is really just a set of eyes through which th ...more
Jun 26, 2014 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Andrea Levy uses first person narrative to tell the story of Faith, a daughter of Jamaican immigrants living in 1980s Britain, and her discovery of her family roots.

I thought Faith was a really likable character and her voice was entertaining and engaging. Levy also successfully speaks as Faith's family members bringing to life a fantastic array of characters and voices with wonderful warmth making for a varied read.

Fruit of the Lemon entertained me and made me want to look more closely at my o
I love books like this, written by first-generation children of immigrants, because they tie in so closely with my own experiences. I identified so strongly with Faith Jackson, the main character. She is a young black woman in England trying to find her own identity when confronted on different sides by her Jamaican family, her bohemian friends, and her respectably white boyfriend. She goes to work at the BBC in the costuming department, and there faces daily racial micro-aggressions. With all t ...more
Jul 02, 2013 Gitte rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: race-issues, english, 2013
I didn’t want to be black anymore.
I just wanted to live.

The Beginning: ‘Your mum and dad came on a banana boat,’ that was what the bully boys at my primary school used to say.

The story starts quite well. It’s about Faith Jackson, a young Jamaican woman born and raised in London. In a quest to discover her roots and find herself, she decides to visit Jamaica for the first time ever. She’s welcomed by an overwhelming amount of family members, all eager to tell her stories of her ancestors.

I enjoy
Y. L
Sep 25, 2012 Y. L rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first impression of this book was annoyance at the amount of sentences trailing off with "you know"s (kinda like counting the "umm"s and "aah"s in a lecture), although it was possible that Levy was attempting to give a 'Jamaican' feel to the book. Thankfully she had decided that the first 9 pages of the book would be enough 'feel' and my distraction ended there.

The first half of the book tells about Faith's life as a coloured British citizen. She feels embarrassed of her Jamaican descent and
Aug 02, 2010 Mrsgaskell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, own, 8-star
Faith Jackson was born and raised in England but her parents arrived on a banana boat from Jamaica and school bullies are only too happy to taunt her with this fact. Faith thinks of herself as English since she knows little of her Jamaican roots, her parents having always been reluctant to speak of their lives in Jamaica. It’s the late seventies when Faith finds a good job in television and moves out of the family home. Her parents probably wouldn’t approve of the young woman and two young men, ...more
Aug 27, 2012 janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 01, 2008 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Levy's Small Island is probably a better novel overall, but Fruit of the Lemon does eventually become very powerful and affecting. It's a novel divided neatly into halves, with the second half being clearly superior to the first. In the first half (which could use a little more edginess and drama), we're introduced to a young woman, Faith Jackson, who is the daughter of Jamaican immigrants and is seemingly cut off from her heritage (and only faintly aware of the muted racism present around her i ...more
Catherine Siemann
Aug 04, 2010 Catherine Siemann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as strong overall as Levy's Small Island, but still a good read. Faith Jackson, daughter of Jamaican immigrants, considers England her only home, and is happily starting a new job at the BBC. But a series of incidents with white friends and coworkers, as well as in more public situations, hammers home to her the endemic nature of racism in contemporary England. Her parents, meanwhile, have announced their intention of moving back to Jamaica now that their children are grown.

Faith takes a jou
Bookmarks Magazine

Named after the song "Lemon Tree," which grumbles that such a beautiful tree should produce so inedible a fruit, Fruit of the Lemon was first published in England in 1999, five years before the award-winning Small Island. Given the similar themes and content, comparisons were inevitable. Though critics praised Andrea Levy's lovely prose and affable characters, some felt that the book had a few rough edges: the believability of Faith's breakdown, for example, and, in the second part of the novel

Oct 15, 2011 Bonnie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half of this book takes place in England, the second half in Jamaica. Levy has a gift for the nuances of relationships between races, for capturing dialogue in both British English and Jamaican Patois, and for wonderful tongue in cheek humor:

The letter came through the television centre’s internal mail. At the time I was sitting at my desk typing a full and complete description of World War One army uniforms. ‘We are pleased to inform you that your application for the post of dresser
Dec 11, 2010 Veronica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm not sure if Levy wrote this before or after her very successful Small Island, but I felt it wasn't as good. The first few chapters seemed a bit heavy handed, but the book was entirely redeemed by two magnificent central chapters: one in which the heroine Faith, the British-born daughter of Jamaican parents, witnesses a racist attack, and the following one in which she arrives in Jamaica for the first time. These are wonderfully done, vivid and striking, and really make you feel for Faith as ...more
Aug 13, 2011 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read about the search for one's cultural identity in today's melting pot world. Follows Faith, a young woman living in London whose parents emigrated from Jamaica as a young married couple. Set partially in England and partially in Jamaica, we watch Faith as she struggles with the deeply ingrained racism of England, and then as she travels to Jamaica to explore her roots. While good enough, this book is not nearly as well written as Levy's "Long Song" (I haven't read "Small Island" y ...more
Apr 14, 2007 Micah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: folks who enjoy immigrant or post-colonialist lit
I wasn't really sure what to expect from Fruit of the Lemon as Andrea Levy -- though previously published -- was new to me. I'm not sure whether FOTL is based on the author's experiences, but the protagonist seems to have a lot in common with the author, at least demographically: both are British women from a Jamaican families. I would probably classify this book in the vague sub-genres of immigrant or post-colonial lit (think The Namesake or Mona in the Promised Land ). It was interested a ...more
Oct 19, 2012 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2012
Not the normal book that I would read, but took a punt as it was a winner of the orange prize and Whitbread prize.

It concerns a girl born in the UK to Jamaican immigrants, and how she grows up with her brother. She is generally getting along fine, has a good job, is living with other people in a house, before coming up against the horrors of racial violence. Shee suffers a breakdown, and her parent decide to send her to Jamaica to spend time with the family that never left there.

Whilst there, he
Sep 17, 2009 Vonetta rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Having read Small Island first, I found Fruit of the Lemon a tad dry. Levy blew me away with her ability to transport senses from the page to your brain in her first book, but that didn't happen with this one. It is an interesting story, following the heroine's family history for several generations, but it's very much a "told" story rather than a "shown" one, which is fitting, seeing as the character is being told the stories by her older relatives, but this style of storytelling seems a bit mo ...more
Feb 17, 2015 Alycia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, I really liked this book and it reminded me of how awful and racist people can be. I thought the first few chapters were a little slow but once Faith applies for her new job, it really starts moving and I didn't want to put the book down.

My biggest problem with this book is that the author mentions "teeth sucking" at least once a page, more so in the Jamaica chapters. We get it, Andrea Levy, old Jamaican women suck their teeth. Enough.

I was a little confused about when this book takes
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In 1948 Andrea Levy's father sailed from Jamaica to England on the Empire Windrush ship and her mother joined him soon after. Andrea was born in London in 1956, growing up black in what was still a very white England. This experience has given her an complex perspective on the country of her birth.

Andrea Levy did not begin writing until she was in her mid-thirties. At that time there was little wr
More about Andrea Levy...

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