Cornmaven's Reviews > A High Wind in Jamaica

A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes
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Oct 10, 09

bookshelves: adult
Read in October, 2009

OK, I am enthralled with this book so far. It is an OLD book, written in 1929. I had heard some sort of pitch for it on NPR, and finally checked it out. I am on page 62. All I can say is, for my edition, when you get to page 61, you can only scream OMG, OMG, OMG.

Set in Jamaica, post-Civil War, post emancipation of people of color. There's the n-word, but used on purpose. The effects and attitudes of British colonialism are apparent and the writing makes a commentary on it. The writing itself is extremely poetic. You cannot but catch your breath after the description of a hurricane and its aftermath.

The introduction to this book says that it is often compared to Lord of the Flies, and I would have to agree. I would also have to agree that this book is much more complex than Lord of the Flies. It would make an interesting choice for upper high school English classes.

What happens on page 61 is not really what happens, but what really happens is even more complicated. As I read, I went back and forth between liking and disliking each character. Most behaved pretty creepily at certain points, and then would behave OK. I noticed a theme of reality vs fantasy running through it, along with reality vs denial. The children in the book were very isolated in Jamaica, and through the course of the story they must face new and rather interesting things, and mostly they do this not so well.

Signs of PTSD are very evident in many of the characters, but in a way (and this is not to make light of PTSD), the book shows that, well, just life itself may cause people to act that way.

The introduction also notes that when an animal appears in the story, get ready for some bad human nature stuff to happen. Of course I would have picked up on this as a college English major, but that flew right by me, and I appreciated it being pointed out to me (I usually read the intros after I read the book so that they don't spoil things for me).

Worth the read. I might actually read it again later in life to get the full effect. It's that complex.
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