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Fruit of the Lemon

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  1,454 Ratings  ·  157 Reviews
Faith Jackson fixes herself up with a great job in TV and the perfect flatshare. Neither is that perfect, as it happens. Nor are her relations with her overbearing, though always loving family.

Furious and perplexed when her parents suddenly announce their intention to retire back home to Jamaica, Faith makes her own journey there. Here she is immediately enfolded in the en
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 11th 1999 by Headline Review (first published 1999)
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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
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
Mocha Girl
Oct 11, 2009 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 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
Mar 11, 2013 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
Jenny Yates
Jun 19, 2009 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.
Jan 05, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-bookclub
Sadly these characters didn't interest me at all and therefore I had a hard time keeping them all straight, especially after Faith arrived in Jamaica and Levy spent several chapters telling some of their backstories through the eyes of another. The story dragged and the writing didn't stand out in any way for me. This is not one of my bookclub's more appealing selections - at least not for me.
Stephanie ((Strazzybooks))
DNF @ 61%,
and telling myself it's okay to officially quit if I haven't finished it in 8 months,
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
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
Cathy Watson
Not gripping but worth reading as Faith learns about her Jamaican heritage through stories of her relatives in a way that lays bare the way the slave trade affects generations through the ages. The mimicking of perceived English ways, lifting of the pinkey while
sipping tea, the value of a lighter skin. Shame on the slave owners, shame for their lack of values, and their exploitation of others. The corruption of power.
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny and entertaining and showed family in all its forms. Faith's family was supportive, loving,bossy, embaressing, exasperating but always well meaning and by sending her on a trip to Jamaica she was able to see life in a new light.
Tahmina Begum
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the perfect book for this moment in time.

Subtle details, tastes like the Caribbean Sea, it's in tune with searching for home when you don't realise it.
Dani Amaya
Had to read this book for class so it stressed me out.
Alyssa Nelson
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alyssa by: Andrew
My husband recommended this to me a while ago and I finally had the chance to read it! I was worried at first, because his last two have been, while very good, incredibly depressing, but this was a whole lot happier and more hopeful than White Teeth by Zadie Smith and The Autobiography of Malcolm X, so I can keep on with his recommendations! It’s interesting because Fruit of the Lemon does deal with the same sort of issues as those other two books — namely, what it means to be not-white in a soc ...more
Questo libro non mi ha convinta fino alla fine. L'inizio è molto interessante, vediamo Faith a Londra che comincia a realizzare cos'è veramente il razzismo. Dalla parte della Jamaica in poi l'ho trovato noiosissimo. Non penso fossero necessarie tutte le storie della famiglia di Faith, non ne vedo alcuna utilità. Non capiamo più come si sente veramente Faith, ci sono troppe azioni inutili, non sono riuscita a capire a fondo come si sente Faith, e penso che un libro del genere debba spiegare quest ...more
May 08, 2013 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 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 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a delightful reading experience on numerous levels. First, it is a genre that American readers have yet to delve in fully. I decided to read more African Diaspora literature, and this fits. The main character is British-born with Jamaican parents. There's that dynamic in the text; not simply a difference in generation but also a difference in spatial awareness that migrants migrating within an Empire experience with their Mother country-born children. It goes deeper than this. Secon ...more
Aug 02, 2010 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
Feb 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Engaging read

This is the third Andrea Levy novel I have read and the most up to date compared to The long Song and Small Island both of which had me spell bound and I think should be highly recommended.
While this had charm and wit both hall marks of this writer, and also the ring of truth in language and great characterisation, I thought it ended rather suddenly without returning to the plot. It just felt like it ended and left too many loose ends. While I loved the background histories, I felt
Kirsty Potter
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
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
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I mistakenly thought that this novel was written after Andrea Levys 'Small Island'. It was not, and I think it shows. The first person narrative of the novel is compelling, and the story of a Thatcher-era Londoner trying to find her identity and 'home' (not to mention trying to find herself) could be the story of any third-country kid. The premise, where we are put into the shoes of the lost Londoner 'Faith' in the first half of the book, and treated to her reincarnation as British-Jamaican Fait ...more
Oct 15, 2011 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 01, 2008 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
Liz Chapman
Mar 31, 2014 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
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

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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 a complex perspective on the country of her birth.

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