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3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,296 Ratings  ·  256 Reviews
Lucy, a teenage girl from the West Indies, comes to America to work as an au pair for a wealthy couple. She begins to notice cracks in their beautiful façade at the same time that the mysteries of own sexuality begin to unravel. Jamaica Kincaid has created a startling new heroine who is destined to win a place of honor in contemporary fiction.
Hardcover, 164 pages
Published October 22nd 1990 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Oct 26, 2015 Rowena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: caribbean-lit
"That morning, the morning of my first day, the morning that followed my first night, was a sunny morning. It was not the sort of bright sun-yellow making everything curl at the edges, almost in fright, that I was used to, but a pale-yellow sun, as if the sun had grown weak from trying too hard to shine; but still it was sunny, and that was nice and made me miss my home less." Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy

In many ways I feel as though the protagonist of Kincaid's "Annie John" found her way into this bo
Kristina A
May 05, 2008 Kristina A rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 16, 2008 Rebekah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
May 06, 2009 Crystal Belle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Lisa Kelsey
Jan 29, 2014 Lisa Kelsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 04, 2016 Milka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I knew nothing about this book as I picked it up from the library. To be honest, I can't even remember hearing about Jamaica Kincaid before this book. The fact that it was fairly short and had a synopsis that went well with my current interest in postcolonial and feminist literature was all that was really needed for me to pick this one up. Now that I've read it, I can say that I make awesome decisions in libraries, because I really ended up enjoying this one and found it to be an extremely inte ...more
This book is one of my absolute favorite books of all time. Check out my mini-review here:
Top 5 Required Reading.
Jul 28, 2014 Darkowaa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Lucy" is a quick read and was wonderfully written. I have come to really enjoy Jamaica Kincaid's style of writing. It is clean and simple yet laden with deep meaning. Lucy- the protagonist of the novel was a sorrowful, bitter person and I blame her abandoned upbringing and the love-hate relationship she had with her mother as the cause. The novel in general was full of misery- not only from the protagonist, but also from the family Lucy was working for (M
Aug 17, 2011 Osvaldo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Apr 26, 2014 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Diana Welsch
Dec 07, 2014 Diana Welsch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was a kid, maybe 11 or 12, my mom worked at a high school library. Her boss, the librarian, took a shine to me, and recommended preteen me a lot of books that were prrrrrrobably too mature for me to be reading. Things that my mom would vet and keep out of my hands if it was anyone beside her boss handing it to me. Some of those books, such as this one, made a big impression on me. The reason Lucy was so memorable is that it is mainly about sex and getting away from your parents.

My mom's b
Feb 06, 2016 Cait rated it it was amazing
some notes I made while I was falling in fascinated love with this book: "sharp + wildly perceptive + unkind of wonderful" (of Lucy); "it won me over not right away or all at once"

this is a very, very good book. Lucy's love is terrible and her every insight filled with remarkable clarity, and this is a book in which it works in some cases to tell rather than show (ie the first time she tells us she loves Mariah, and the reader is shocked but believes her utterly). and now here are a bunch of quo
Jul 20, 2013 Allee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 really liked it  ·  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
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
Apr 13, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Robert Isenberg
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
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
Jan 28, 2015 Carly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"How do you get to be the sort of victor who can claim to be the vanquished also?"

This novel is deceptively plain. I imagine many readers have discounted it, uninterested in what lie beneath. Underestimate it at your own peril. Bare-bones language, narrative and plot house deeply radical musings on colonialism, womanhood, sexuality, whiteness and immigration. Nearly each and every sentence could have entire essays written on it.

I am in awe of Kincaid's ability to write such a book. This is a no
Sep 18, 2011 Susanne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
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:
Sep 06, 2012 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
What an striking little book. I can understand why many people don't enjoy this story because Lucy is not a likeable character: she's a very angry and bitter young woman. However, I found myself fascinated by her, and I actually highlighted several lines from the novel, which I stopped doing long ago. Lucy is complex and incredibly insightful about both herself and those around her. Kincaid really shows the contradictory dynamic of family, particularly mothers and daughters, through Lucy's inten ...more
Sara Salem
Feb 28, 2015 Sara Salem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So. Good.
Manuel Palacio
Aug 19, 2014 Manuel Palacio rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 24, 2016 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I really enjoyed reading “Lucy” by Jamaica Kincaid. When I first started reading the book, I didn’t know anything about the author and honestly thought it was a man who had written it; however, I found the book easy to relate to and thought that the character was someone many girls could find a part of themselves in.

Obviously, I found out that Jamaica is in fact a woman who was born in Antigua and immigrated to the US. “Lucy” was published in 1990, which is a few years before I was born, but I r
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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.
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“I wish that I could love someone so much that I would die from it.” 23 likes
“That was the moment he got the idea he possessed me in a certain way, and that was the moment I grew tired of him.” 23 likes
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