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Here Comes the Sun

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Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Nicole Dennis-Benn pens a tender hymn to a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas. At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate. When plans for a new hotel threaten their village, Margot sees not only an opportunity for her own financial independence but also perhaps a chance to admit a shocking secret: her forbidden love for another woman. As they face the impending destruction of their community, each woman fighting to balance the burdens she shoulders with the freedom she craves must confront long-hidden scars. From a much-heralded new writer, Here Comes the Sun offers a dramatic glimpse into a vibrant, passionate world most outsiders see simply as paradise.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published July 19, 2016

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About the author

Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn

5 books1,081 followers
Nicole Dennis-Benn is the author of the novels PATSY (June 4, 2019) and HERE COMES THE SUN (Liveright, 2016), which won the Lambda Literary Award, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, and the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and was longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award.

HERE COMES THE SUN was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and received “Best Book of the Year” nods from NPR, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Entertainment Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, BuzzFeed, Vice, and Kirkus Reviews, among others. It was named one of the best books to read in summer 2016 by the New York Times, NPR, BBC, O, The Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Elle, Cosmo, Marie Claire, Miami Herald, BuzzFeed, Bookpage, Brooklyn Magazine, Flavorwire, Book Riot, and Bookish, among others.

Time Out New York described Dennis-Benn as one of the “few immigrants and first-generation Americans who are putting their stamps on NYC,” and Vice included her in a round-up of immigrant authors “who are making American Literature great again.” Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Elle, Ebony, Electric Literature, Mosaic, Lenny Letter, and Catapult, among others. Her writing has been awarded a Richard and Julie Logsdon Fiction Prize, and two of her stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in Fiction.

Dennis-Benn is a Lecturer in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University. She has previously taught in the writing programs at the University of Pennsylvania and New York University, and has been awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Lambda, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Hurston/Wright Foundation, and the Sewanee Writers' Conference. She is a recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts grant and a 2018 Caribbean Life Impact Award.

Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Dennis-Benn is a graduate of Cornell University and holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan and an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She lives with her wife in Brooklyn, New York.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,416 reviews
Profile Image for Justin (Look Alive Books).
278 reviews2,258 followers
February 7, 2017
This story takes place Across the Universe in Jamaica, and the beautiful, bright, happy cover may lead you to think "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da! This must be a very sunny, dreamy, Strawberry Fields Forever kind of book!" But Let it Be known that there is nothing at all happy about this book, unless your idea of Happiness is a Warm Gun.

The characters are written so well, and all of their stories are so tragic. I couldn't imagine spending A Day in the Life of any of them. Oh! Darling, first you have Margot who wants nothing more than to create a better life for her sister, Thandi. All the Help! she gives her and the money she saves comes from Golden Slumbers with men on the side while she also works at a local hotel. Because of this, Something happens that just takes thing to a new level. She can make money, but you Can't Buy Me Love, she thinks.

Thandi would rather live in an Octopus's Garden than become a doctor like her family wants. She has to Carry That Weight a long time as she knows how hard her family is working to give her a better life, although she doesn't know what her sister has been up to. She's So Heavy and feels like she could carve her own path by going to art school and being more white so people might like her more. She thinks she can do it on her own, or she thinks "Maybe I could With a Little Help from My Friends."

She's Leaving Home! She's Getting Better! She's Fixing a Hole in her life of feeling stuck and confined to what herfamily wants. Not Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, but for herself! Her sister Margot also finds herself drawn to another woman which is very, very evil in the town. Verdene loves Margot anyway and is viewed as a witch by her neighbors, but she still thinks to herself she's "Got to Get You into My Life. For No One will have to know. There is so much I Want to Tell You, so much I would Love You To... Something... And Your Bird Can Sing!" She Says She Says. She loved her ever since she Saw Her Standing There. Where? I'm not sure. Could be Penny Lane.

The last section of the book is called "Here Comes the Sun" and I really thought that meant things would be brighter. I was wrong, but I did love how all the different storylines started to Come Together in The End. Things really went Helter Skelter, too! I wanted to finish it last night, but I was all like "I'm So Tired!" I wish I could have finished it Yesterday. didn't need any Help! finishing this one after A Hard Day's Night though. In fact, I read almost half of the book in one sitting this morning under the light of the Good Day Sunshine. I'll probably still remember this book When I'm Sixty-Four.

Usually, if I'm not reading or working, I'm Only Sleeping. I mean, I wish I had Eight Days a Week to read! I've looked Here, There, and Everywhere for great books to read this year, and I think this one was an excellent choice. Tomorrow Never Knows what I will read next, but I hope it's as good as this one. I've really gotta Get Back to reading awesome books again.

Now I'm gonna go think about the different layers of this book and the emotion within its pages While My Guitar Slowly Weeps. Hello, Goodbye.
Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
June 13, 2018
“Can’t wait to leave dis godforsaken place.”

“Is it dat bad? We live by di sea. How much people can say dat? Give t’anks.”

“Maxi, shut up wid yuh blessings nonsense. This is no paradise. At least, not for us.”

so, i wasn’t over the moon about this one, and i’m not sure why. sure, it is absolutely, unremittingly bleak, but that’s never bothered me in a book. this is thomas hardy in jamaica; characters caught up in vicious cycles - suffering from the aftereffects of bad choices made because of narrow options and causing suffering in others as they struggle to stay afloat, thereby narrowing their options and on and on in this interconnected web of exploitation, abuse, ambition, violence, poverty, and a deep self-loathing that causes characters to feel shame for their most elemental traits - skin color, sexuality, gender.

this is the book in a nutshell:

”’Membah dis, nobody love a black girl. Not even harself. Now get up an’ guh get yuh pay.”

i was impressed with so much of this - there were some really delicate mechanisms at work in the plot’s undercarriage, building the impenetrable wall of cause-and-effect/coincidence/irony which - again - is the very thing i love so much in thomas hardy.

but i’m also frustrated by hardy’s characters - their decisions, their motivations, and i felt the same thing here: characters who jeopardize their own happiness, who betray loved ones, who bait their own traps. i appreciate these moves as necessary for driving a tragic narrative, but there were just too many specific instances here where the motivation wasn’t clear apart from the author wanting to achieve the end result. i don’t understand the relationship between thandi and charles, which goes from zero to maximum intensity in no time, and there are other more spoilery things where a very intelligent and strategically-minded character with an eye on the long game will make decisions whose consequences go against self-interest & etc.

maybe i read this at a bad time - exhaustion and pain and assorted life-garbage have been cluttering my brain, so i probably glossed over some of the subtleties in my scatter. she’s an excellent writer, and there were painfully good images, turns of phrase, revelations. there was just some absence i can’t quite articulate, which seems douchey of me to even say. but i’m feeling a very high three for this one, and as a debut, it shows she’s got incredible potential, and i promise to read all future books by her with the proper amount of rest beforehand.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,049 followers
January 5, 2018
When Lauren W. came on the Reading Envy Podcast as a guest for Episode 097, she brought this book to talk about. It wasn't long before I had to try it, and I'm so glad I did.

How did this book pass me by? It is a novel about three women, all related, trying to make their way in a small community in Jamaica. Delores is the mother and matriarch, working hard to make what money she can, completely dependent on the waves of tourists coming through. Margot, her older daughter, appears to work in the service industry for one of the top hotels, but as the story unveils the truth, you learn that she has been selling herself for money, and has been doing so within the context of her employment. She is saving her money for her younger sister, so Thandi can go to school, become a doctor, and escape this very hard life. But Thandi is more focused on a skin-lightening regimen and working on her art. Because she goes to private Catholic school with students who are above her neighborhood's income level, she walks a confusing line between poverty and privilege.

There are other things going on. The sex worker industry seems to be part of the hidden world of the most successful hotels and resorts, and Margot may not be able to work her way out of that the way she thinks. Not only that, a new resort is poised to move in on the land where her entire community lives, and she may play a role in displacing them. Margot is also in love, and with a woman who has already been shunned by the community, since being gay in Jamaica is still very much against the law and a punishable offense. Her neighbors call her a witch and children are afraid of her. The character of Delores ends up having more secrets than anyone, and I was so impressed by how that story was told, and also how she is pretty much unapologetic for what she has done. What choices do the women in this story have?

It is a very well written story, and asks the reader to confront their own role in these issues. I have visited some of these places mentioned in the book, and feel like I have met a Delores and not bought any of her goods. It raises the need for conscious travel, understanding whether your hotel pays local workers ethically, and whether they turn a blind eye to (or profit from) the trafficking of women and sex.

I listened to the audio based on Lauren's recommendation and was quite pleased at the nuance and performance of the narrator, Bahni Turpin. I will be looking for more of her performances for sure.
Profile Image for Brandice.
857 reviews
September 14, 2019
Although a decent story, I wanted to like Here Comes the Sun more than I actually did. I wasn’t expecting a light story, having read the synopsis and other reviews in advance, yet the book still had a level of somber that I wasn’t anticipating.

Here Comes the Sun focuses on two sisters living in Jamaica - Margot, a woman in her early-mid 30s, working at a hotel predominately occupied by tourists, and her sister, Thandi, a teenager finishing up school and her exams. Their mother, Delores, sells various gifts to tourists in her stall at the pier. She is also a central character in the story. Delores and Margot work frequently and are banking on Thandi continuing on in school to become a doctor, which will lead them to rise above their current economic status. While smart and capable, Thandi has other aspirations, to become an artist.

At first, I was hooked on the story, becoming acclimated with the characters, their relationships, and goals. However, as the story progressed and more background was revealed, both Margot and Delores became increasingly unlikable, and I quickly began losing interest. I understand wanting better for the next generation and doing everything you can to set them up for success, but I felt both Delores, as a mother, and Margot, as a woman who claims to want to be independent, crossed lines multiple times, with minimal, if any, remorse. To me, they each appeared to have little self-respect. I did enjoy the elements of Jamaica incorporated throughout the story.

As a whole, Here Comes the Sun ended up providing a solid story, but it’s just not one I’d widely recommend.
Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :).
991 reviews2,769 followers
October 11, 2017
I was provided with an ARC by the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Despite the cover and the title “Here Comes the Sun”, there is nothing sunny, or even happy about this novel. To the Jamaican tourists this seaside village and new resort are almost “paradise” as the beautiful beaches and never ending sun combine with the lure of the azure ocean to create a perfect place for a vacation or retreat. The native Jamaicans however have suffered greatly.

The novel is written in third person narrative and in many instances the native accent is incorporated into the accounts. The dialect takes a bit of getting used to but adds to the feeling of authenticity.

The men of Montego Bay had made their living by fishing or farming. During the period covered in this book, however, they had suffered from drought for several years and many of the people had fled or just continued to try and survive, many by selling trinkets to the tourists. The water which had once held abundant lobster and fish are now just providing enough to sustain the fishermen’s families.

This story is about several women and how their lives have been shaped by the upheaval in their village. Margot is the older sister of Thandi, a young girl still in school. Margot has done whatever she had to, including marketing her sexuality, to make money to keep Thandi in the private school. She was the one that was supposed to use her intelligence and schooling to continue on and perhaps become a doctor, or at any rate a success in life who could then repay her sister and mother for the hardships they endured to send her to school.

Thandi however is struggling with what she wants in life. Though she is an excellent student her real passion is art. Though her teacher encourages her art work, her family wants her to concentrate on obtaining a scholarship. She is also just discovering her first feelings of womanhood including her attraction to a local boy.

Verdene had been in London for some years but returned to help provide for her family. She is ostracized by the community for they know of her attraction to women which at this time was considered forbidden, they even labeled her a “witch” and wouldn’t recognize her even when she went to the market.

This novel is beautifully written with passionate, very well described characters, I could feel the emotion in their words and actions. At times the book is very tense and distressing, a glimpse at the darker side of tourism and what happens to the people who are displaced from their former land and homes. I feel as though the title is an oxymoron, a paradox of what the book is really about.

The author has certainly done her research about her homeland which is was also the home of her grandmother and great-grandmother, Addy, of whom she states “gave me the courage and freedom to write and live freely”.

This is a novel I will highly recommend and one whose characters will stay with me for a long time.
Profile Image for Lori.
308 reviews100 followers
April 6, 2019
Good, God! This is bleak and sad! The moral of the story is don't be poor (anywhere) and don't be gay in Jamaica.

Profile Image for Book Riot Community.
953 reviews126k followers
February 22, 2017
I’m so grateful that I was one of the judges for the National Book Critic Circle’s Leonard Prize, because it gave me an excuse to read six excellent books. But among them, I couldn’t help but loving this book differently than the rest. Written with an intimate knowledge of and understanding of Jamaica, Dennis-Benn also explores queerness and race and religion and education – it is an intersectional novel if there ever was one. It’s also dramatic, sad, and had me crying in the end. I can’t wait to see what else this brilliant debut novelist writes.

–Ilana Masad

from The Best Books We Read In January 2017: http://bookriot.com/2017/02/01/riot-r...


Don’t be fooled by the sunny title and cover of this novel, set in the resorts and ghettos of Jamaica. Here Comes the Sun is a novel about three women in one family who make desperate decisions to save themselves and each other. Mostly it is about Margot, who landed a prestigious job at a resort despite coming from a poor village. Betrayed by her mother when she was young, she is determined that her younger sister Thandi won’t suffer the same fate. Margot does whatever she must to afford private school for Thandi, with the promise of college and financial deliverance for the family. She keeps unspeakable secrets, but she doesn’t realize her mother and sister have secrets of their own. This book is a dark exploration of the sacrifices we make in the name of family and how sometimes we destroy the very thing we’re trying to save. I had to brace myself every time I sat down to read this book and dived into the tumult of Margot’s life. I read it the way I read a thriller, holding my breath, waiting for the next new revelation. It’s Shakespearean-level drama and compulsively readable.
— Jessica Woodbury

from The Best Books We Read In March: http://bookriot.com/2016/04/04/riot-r...
Profile Image for Aerion.
116 reviews13 followers
July 7, 2016
What an amazing book! This book captured so many different themes that can be problematic to all people, but especially people of color is desperate and dire situations. The problems of intergenerational damage, the cycle of hurting those around you as a result of you being hurt, the cycle of poverty, environmental racism, modern day colonialism, colorism, homophobia stigmas against women in Jamaica. This book was just everything. Like others have said, do not let the cover of this book make you think this book is some fun island adventure because it is not. But it is a true and realistic story of the types of real life experiences you would find in families and black people all over the world. READ THIS BOOK
Profile Image for Michael.
655 reviews966 followers
February 2, 2020
Here Comes the Sun centers on the fraught bond between a Jamaican woman, her elderly mother, and her teenaged sister. Margot is a hotel worker who dreams of greatness for her precocious sister Thandi, and is willing to help her at any cost, as is their sullen mother Delores. Thandi, meanwhile, feels alienated from her wealthier peers at school, longs for social acceptance, and wishes to become an artist. The work’s first third is a quiet, thoughtful character study of the three women; the writer truly excels at sketching the inner lives of her protagonists as they navigate daily strife. Unfortunately a series of plot twists soon rock the story, and the women set out on jarring new directions, with different ends in mind. Thandi pursues an intense romance with a local boy, Margot starts an underground ring of exploitative sex work for personal gain, Delores becomes unhinged. The characterization feels inconsistent and increasingly one dimensional, and the problem’s made worse by a series of flashbacks full of revelations that feel inorganic.
Profile Image for BookOfCinz.
1,404 reviews2,367 followers
July 1, 2019
Updated June 25, 2019
Here Comes the Sun is BookOfCinz June Book club pick and I am happy we decided to give this debut novel a go. I still stand by original review but I have to say, re-reading this novel the second time was equally as enjoyable. I did find some parts to be a bet dramatic but overall, still a solid read!

August 2016
Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn you may have just wrote one of my favorite books for 2016, hands down my favorite debut book for this year (so far).

"Here Comes The Sun" captures Jamaica and Jamaicans in a truly authentic way. After reading "A Brief History of Seven Killings" I felt no one would be able to capture Jamaica like that but Dennis-Benn proved me wrong!

Being a Jamaican whose lived in a tourism capital and worked in Tourism, this book is truly on point. Working in Tourism was one of the hardest jobs I've had, because every day you knowingly or unknowingly feed into this facade of "Jamaica Mi Irie" because a lot of Tourist cannot deal with the "Real Jamaica".

I liked that Dennis-Benn really captured what is is like living on a tourist capital for locals. Everyone aspires to work at one of the big hotels and once they do, they hardly ever leave. These locals who work in these big hotels are often the ones who have to vacate their homes for newer and bigger hotel developments to take place.... the irony!

The characters in this book all have their demons to fight and I feel like I have met each and everyone of them in passing while living in Jamaica. There is the mother who works tirelessly to ensure her kids gets the best education, things she wasn't exposed to. The Mother who places so much pressure on her kids because those kids are her "Retirement/Insurance Policy". I cannot begin to tell you how often I have heard of parents who sacrifice everything for their child be it genuine or not, to ensure their kids look after them in the future.

There is the Sister who didnt get to reach her full potential because of different circumstances but still see her younger sister as the one who "will make it".... All her dreams and aspirations rest in her sister.

Then there is the younger sister who has to handle all these pressures to live up to everyones' expectation- including the community. Trust me, it is not a nice feeling.

Needless to say, Dennis-Benn did an amazing job of capturing the Jamaican spirit. I might have missed which year this book was set in, but it felt a little late 1980s where Homosexuality was very frowned up on -still is, which is sad. The bleaching of skin however- with the technique of the saran wrap did not get popular until the 2000s... but thats just a small thing.

I loved how authentic this book is, I felt so much at home reading it. I loved the added Patois and how thoroughly executed the conversations were.

I am so proud of Dennis-Benn, a Jamaican at heart, what an amazing debut novel, I am looking forward to your next publication!!!!

A MUST READ!!!!!!!
Profile Image for Taryn.
1,206 reviews188 followers
July 22, 2016
I almost abandoned this book in the early going, and now it’s one of my favorites of the year. I can’t believe how close I came to missing out.

For whatever reason, Here Comes the Sun was a really slow starter for me. The characters all clearly have secrets, but they are slow to reveal them—so slow, I wondered if we’d ever find out for sure what happened in each of their pasts. But then all the proverbial other shoes start dropping, and from that point on, it’s an all-consuming storm of resentment, greed, and betrayal.

It’s a family tragedy Shakespeare could have written. Delores has two daughters, Margot and Thandi, born over ten years apart. Delores and Margot have major baggage between them, but one thing they can agree on is that they want better for Thandi, and they throw all their energy into providing for her. Margot works the front desk in a fancy Montego Bay hotel, a job which positions her perfectly for her other job as a prostitute. Margot is pragmatic; she tells herself it’s all worth it so that Thandi can go to a good school and become a doctor. But Thandi might have other ideas about her future—and trust me, that brewing conflict is just the tip of the iceberg with these women.

Early on, this book felt like another deep character study—which it is—but it also turned out to be absolutely pitch-perfect, plot-wise. This summer I have been craving good plot development like chocolate. If something isn’t happening to advance the story, I’m tapping my foot and sighing loudly. Once the scene-setting and character-introducing is over and the shocking revelations start rolling in one after another, you’ll be hooked until the bitter end. (And I use the word “bitter” VERY deliberately. I have a feeling those last couple chapters will haunt me for some time.)

My one regret is that I went with the ebook version instead of the audio. I would love to hear what a talented voice actor could do with the musical patois the dialogue is written in. Nicole Dennis-Benn is at the top of her form, even as a debut novelist. Highest possible recommendation.

With regards to Liveright and NetGalley for the review copy. On sale now!

More book recommendations by me at www.readingwithhippos.com
Profile Image for Joce (squibblesreads).
230 reviews4,921 followers
August 16, 2016
Full non-spoiler video review starts at 2:25 at this link!

This book was phenomenal. I learned so much about Jamaica and the tourism industry, and it remarked on homophobia, racism, sexism, and ageism. So many talking points regarding being a woman in this society and around escort services in a respectful and layered manner. 4.25 stars for now, but I have a feeling I'll be bumping it up to 4.5-5 in the future :)
Profile Image for Jherane Patmore.
200 reviews72 followers
May 22, 2017
This is not a happy book - get over it.

This is a brilliant book that looks at the 'other side' of the sun. Not the happy, Holiday, Madonna sold to white Americans and Europeans to visit (and enable the exploitation of the) Caribbean, but a another kind of sunshine. The kind of sun tourism ministers don't talk about. The sun that brings drought, dead crops, the scent of rotting fruit, burning skin, misery and leaves you with nothing left to hide. This is the kind of sun black girls are told to stay out of and poor people can't afford to hide from. I love that someone wrote about this side of our sun.

Nicole was bold enough to write in raw Jamaican patois and it added even more authenticity to the book. I promise that any Jamaican who picks up this book will see, hear, feel, smell and taste Jamaica in every chapter.

The book explores issues of class, race, sexuality, mother-daughter relations, poverty, power, gentrification, sexploitation and a whole range of other things. She packed so many things in this novel it spells intersectionality and forces us to critique multi-layered lives without ever uttering common feminist terminologies.

Stylistically Nicole is a cut above many writers, it's mind blowing that this is just a debut novel. As I said before, this book is very easy to visualize. My only issue was that it was a bit slow in part 1 and I didn't like the way the author chose to end the book. It felt a bit unfinished. Though we can argue the way she ended it was deliberate.

I'd recommend this as a buddy-read or a book club read. There's A LOT happening in this novel. You definitely want a friend to share it with.

Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,602 reviews2,046 followers
February 26, 2016
The cover and title of this book may be going for light and sunny Jamaica, but this is not a light and sunny book, and I mean that as a great compliment. Margot, who lives with her mother Delores and her sister Thandi, is not the happy islander who doesn't worry about making ends meet. Margot cares about only one thing: saving her sister.

Even though Margot has a desirable job in a luxury hotel, her life is anything but beautiful. She carries deep secrets as she puts on a strong face for Thandi, making sure she gets her to the critical exams she needs to get into a university and a real career. But Margot is not the only one with secrets. Delores has made horrible choices to get by, choices Margot is determined not to repeat. Thandi is becoming more interested in art and a boy than getting the life her sister wants her to have. And there is also Margot's secret relationship with a woman which she must keep hidden at all costs.

It's rare that a book packs this heavy of an emotional punch. These women make desperate choices in terrible situations that they justify as best they can. Margot's journey from being her sister's savior to destroying her sister the same way her mother destroyed her is seriously Shakespearean levels of drama. Dennis-Benn slowly reveals the things these women don't say to one another, their secrets and betrayals. Margot, in particular, starts out as so sympathetic, a woman forced to sell herself to save her sister, and gradually becomes the thing she fears most without even realizing it.

All dialogue is in Jamaican patois, which I'm sure will turn off some readers. It does break up your reading, since you must slow down to hear the dialogue in your head, but it's not at all difficult to translate, just an adjustment in reading speed. And it's worth the trouble, this is a book with a lot to say about tourism in poor countries, about the horrifying treatment of LGBTQ people in cultures that don't accept them, and much more. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd).
332 reviews7,309 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
February 16, 2020
Dnf at page 109

I’ve been fighting through this book in little bits and pieces for the last few days and I’m really sad to admit that it just isn’t for me. I’ve wanted to read this book for years and I’m beyond upset that I can’t get into it. This is a bleak story, it covers racism, xenophobia, colorism, homophobia, assault, economic inequality, sex work, and more. I’ve read dark books before, I’ve read books that investigate this exact stuff, but I need some element of hope to soldier through a book as sad as this one and it just didn’t have that sliver of lightness. I’m still planning on reading other books by the author but I’m setting this one aside.
Profile Image for Brown Girl Reading.
349 reviews1,589 followers
October 29, 2016
Nicole Dennis-Benn’s debut novel explores living on the island of Jamaica. Masquerading behind a jovial gay cover in bright orange, yellow, and green, Here Comes the Sun, starts gently and insidiously goes places we aren’t prepared for. The novel revolves around three unlikable main characters – Delores, Margot, and Thandi, who form an unforgettable trio. Delores is a mother preoccupied with money and not enough to the real well-being of her daughters. To continue reading... https://browngirlreading.com/2016/10/...
Profile Image for Tori (InToriLex).
460 reviews360 followers
August 17, 2016
Find this and other Reviews at In Tori Lex
Actual rating 3.5

This was an emotionally wrenching read, that explores the lives of very poor and marginalized women. I was immediately drawn to the cover of this book at a local library book sale, because of its brightly colored cover. But this book describes some dark topics. I wasn't expecting. Margot is a broken women who works to give her sister Thandi a better future, but loses herself in the process. Thandi is a very talented young women who wants to fit in and to decide her own future, but feels the weight of her family's hope. Delores is Margot and Thandie's mom, who made hard choices to survive, but who walks under the weight of her sins. All three of them have to navigate survival as tourism wrecks the community around them. The accounts of sexual abuse, betrayal, violence and sadness were portrayed in a genuine way peppered with dialogue written in the Jamaican dialect patois.

"Her imagination began to produce walls behind which she crouched in silence, closed off from the pain of the memory. She didn't have to leave this hiding place, for her imagination also produced its own food, water supply and oxygen."

The character development was great,the book slowly peels back the actions of these characters to describe the twisted reasons why. Jamaica was described as beautiful, but included descriptions of the poverty and helplessness left on its shores when tourists leave. There is a lot of sexual abuse described, but little justice given to the victims it leaves behind. Margot's sexuality is harbored as a badge of shame and dangerous in the small River Bank village, where people have no tolerance for same sex relationships. The writing was great and there was enough description of side characters to feel immersed in the community.

The main issue I had with this book, is a lack of resolution in the ending. Not every story should or has to have a happy ending, but I feel this book just abruptly stopped and I wanted more. Especially considering the sad reality of the characters, I wanted to see a future for these characters. Despite the ending I was engaged the entire time reading. This is an important book because it doesn't allow you too look away from the consequences of racism, sexism, and exploitation. If we aren't reminded by the stark reality of most of the people in the world, how else will we be inspired to change it. I would recommend this to adult readers who can handle looking at the consequences of heartbreak, through three women's eyes.
Profile Image for Monica.
592 reviews622 followers
October 28, 2016
I feel like I've been taking a tour of the excellent books of 2016 extravaganza!! This is yet another surprisingly great book. I listened to the audio version narrated by Bahni Turpin and she did an amazing job.

Yes it's true, the title and the bright colors of the cover of the book make it impossible to not constantly hear the song replaying in my head. It was literally a soundtrack an earworm as I progressed through the story. I couldn't get away from it. I still can't as I write this review. Honestly, I think that was the intent. It's a huge contrast from the novel. The breezy, light, carefree tune is almost the opposite of what is happening in the novel. Don't be fooled by the cover or the name, this is a pretty dark book about life behind the scenes of the resorts of Jamaica.

The system itself is a huge character in this novel. The system is the colonial influences, insatiable commercial/corporate interests, the unrelenting patriarchy, oppressive and inflexible cultural norms including homophobia, misogyny and racism and the inbred cultural self-loathing of a downtrodden people. But ultimately this is a novel about women, ostensibly a family, but symbolic of a caste of people. These women have been beaten down and marginalized by the system. In general, men do not fare very well mostly because there are very few male characters. Besides Charles, most of the men in the story are either background set pieces (part of the ambiance) or directly the cause of the struggles in the novel either as the face of the system or the direct interaction with the characters. Also most of the male characters are driven by desire for sex and perceived entitlement to sex with whomever (female) they want at any time. There are many female characters that are also the cause of struggles and set pieces as well. But they are never the face of the system (a bold statement in its own right) and oftentimes the females prey upon each other while lamenting their lot in life. Essentially the nature of man (as in humans, not gender) is taking a huge gut punch in this novel.

There is very rich characterization and world building here. The reader sees growth and evolution in the characters throughout the book. There is no deus ex machina. You experience how characters think and feel and by the end of the book, you can understand the motivations. You might not like the characters, but you get how they got there. My character analysis:

The story centers around old hurts: cultural hurts, colonial hurts, family hurts. It is propelled forward by perceived entitlements, vindictiveness and resentments. There are only a couple of characters that have redeeming qualities. Pretty much all of the characters are using someone to gain something. I think the book is really brilliant. It's very immersive and I was completely enthralled. As with all books, it certainly seems to represent some inherent biases. It really is a rather blistering indictment on humans and/or society. The ending is both poetic and heart wrenching. Another winner for me this year.

4.75 Stars
Profile Image for Ace.
433 reviews23 followers
October 27, 2017
I've been reading a lot of books about 'mothers' of late, a run of them that wasn't intentional but just the way my TBR was rolling. Of all of these, I dare say that Delores takes the cake in the super bitch category. She is mean, cruel to her children and others and opportunistic. These traits have rubbed off onto Margot and whilst I felt much empathy for her, she too is a bitch. This book is dark, its about a bad time in Jamaica circa '94 with property developing into big resorts catering to tourists and pushing the poor further and further into poverty and out of their villages and homes and separating social and family circles apart. The characters are abused and desperate. It was a difficult read, but I kept going until 5am this morning to see where the dice would fall.

As a tourist myself, currently sailing through the Caribbean (no plans to visit Jamaica this time around), I feel so bad for some of the poverty I have seen on the outskirts of the ports where I've anchored. The very resorts such as the "Palm Star Resort" in Here Comes the Sun that sit in prime seaside locations and hill-tops probably have pushed minor communities out and destroyed families and their livelihood on these magnificent Islands. I am conflicted.

The distance that separates me from this story is so wide that I also feel bad to mention that I thought that this layering and heaping on of traumatic events upon an already bad situation was a bit dramatic and could easily be turned into a tv drama and I started to get the feeling about half way through that it may well have been written with this in mind. I could be wrong here, its just the skeptic in me rearing its ugly head.
Profile Image for Trudie.
526 reviews560 followers
March 11, 2017
I have to admit to struggling with this book and I think some of that is down to me picking it up directly after all the fun I had reading The Nix . Part of my problem might also have been unrealistic expectations of this containing some element of, if not exactly levity, then a brief respite from relentless misery. It doesn't.
This is an unflinching look at marginalised communities in Jamaica and particularly the tough decisions made by woman in order to survive. While not exactly a gratuitous exposé of the Jamaican sex industry, it does little to soften your landing into this world. This industry, driven by demand from white male tourists and the lack of viable economic opportunities for women is the "invisible hand" that drives this narrative.
My chief enjoyment while reading this was admiring the three extraordinary female characters that Dennis-Benn has crafted in this book - Margot, her sister Thandi and their mother Dolores. But I was disappointed when the plot, for my own personal reading taste at least, veered melodramatic and too expository. I also struggled with the relationship between Margot and Verdene, it just made no intuitive sense on the page, it was, much like the entire book - cold and abrasive and hard to warm to.
However, all faults and questions of actual "enjoyment" aside - I am so pleased this book is doing well and is finding an audience. It is important to have authors that unflinchingly take readers into worlds that make them uncomfortable.
Here Comes the Sun certainly achieves that.
Profile Image for Read By RodKelly.
205 reviews757 followers
May 31, 2020
This novel has all of the ingredients that should make for a wonderful read but things ultimately didn’t come together for me. There was a lack of nuance in the characters; something was always 𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 and subsequently the author would tell me, rather than show me how the characters were emotionally impacted by their circumstances. So much surface-level storytelling creates an imbalance in which the author's habit of glancing over or speeding through certain scenes makes the characters' reactions seem over the top and contrived by comparison. I'm interested to see how the author's style and narrative skill grows or changes in her other novel.
Profile Image for Sarah.
400 reviews134 followers
February 7, 2017
3.5 Stars.

This was a very complex book with a lot of interesting themes like sexism, racism, dysfunctional families, resentment, betrayal, homophobia, capitalism, sexual abuse, violence etc. The book also had very good character development, good writing, a very authentic Jamaican feel to it and diverse characters who are not quite what they originally seem to be. With everything I just listed, it's hard to not feel for these characters and story. At times it is absolutely heartwrenching to read. I enjoyed this book overall but it's not perfect. It was quite slow in places, almost to the point where I was losing interest in the entire thing and for me, it was missing that wow factor.

The best things about this book are definitely the authenticity and the character development/ the reveal during the book where you find out what the characters are actually like. The authenticity is really flawless. Granted, I don't know much about Jamaica but I felt like this was a very good representation. The description of the areas, the dialect (which was at times hard to understand but appropriate), the food, the culture- just everything really came to life. The characters and what they were really like and why was my favourite thing. At the start, different characters will tell you things about themselves so you think you know them pretty well but then as the book progresses, secrets are revealed and things happen and you realise that the characters are actually quite different from what you originally perceived them to be.

I would recommend this to people who think it sounds interesting but just be aware that this book is quite dark and there is sexual abuse and a bit of animal abuse too. I would read another book by Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn.
January 26, 2018
Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn chronicles racism, colorism, sexism, classism, colonialism, elder abuse, and homophobia in this lush tale of one woman struggling to make a life for herself and her sister as problem-free as possible.

Margot hustles to make her sister, Thandi, never experience her struggle. She wants the best for her sister, but working in Jamaica's tourism industry makes her second-guess who she is as she manages to keep her head above water (pun intended). Outside of her professional hustle, she tries to make her personal life work amid a society that's homophobic. For example, living life as a bisexual/queer woman on the island's difficult. She adores her childhood friend, Verdine, who's Lesbian dealing with the overt hatred towards her sexuality.

This book's raw, crisp, and honest. Dennis-Benn rips your heart, but you welcome the truth at your front door. I recommend this story, printed or in audiobook (The narrator's fantastic). 4/5
Profile Image for Patty.
637 reviews42 followers
April 6, 2016
I was so excited for this book, but alas, it did not live up to my expectations. Despite the cheery yellow cover and the seemingly-hopeful title, this is absolutely one of the darkest books I've read in quite some time.

The main character is Margot, a young Jamaican woman who works at a tourist resort. She is ferociously ambitious, and dreams of escaping from the shack where she lives with her family. Margot is a sex worker on the side, supplementing her income and trading sex for promotions and other social benefits. She's focused on her much younger sister, Thandi, who attends an expensive private school. All of the family expects Thandi to become a doctor or lawyer and rescue the rest of them. Thandi, however, is mostly concerned with a cute neighborhood boy, buying skin lightening creams, and becoming an artist. Their mother Delores violently resents her daughters for their beauty and intelligence, and has spent most of their lives driving them away and then blaming them for not loving her the way she wants them to. The final important character is Verdene, a slightly richer woman with whom Margot is in love (sort of, kind of; Margot can't quite bring herself to commit to a same-sex relationship) and who has been ostracized by the community for being a lesbian.

All of these characters are suffering from the trauma of poverty, globalism, racism, colorism, homophobia, sexism, and rape, and as a result are all deeply self-loathing. And not the kind of self-loathing that's fun to read about, where it's just some angst to be healed with a kiss before the end of the story, but the more realistic kind, where it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, making the person pull away from others, making them hard to spend time with and extremely hard to like. Margot in particular makes some absolutely terrible choices, and as much as I can see where she's coming from, I don't have any sympathy for the negative consequences that result.

The writing is lovely and the characters are complex and realistic, but it's simply not a book that I wanted to spend any time with. It lacks a single ray of hope, or spark of goodness, or anything at all other than pure undiluted bleakness. And I know that not every book has to be fun or even enjoyable, and I'm sure that this is objectively a 'good' book, but by God, I would have liked anything to entice me to return to these pages and not simply flee in glad desperation that at least I had the option of escaping, unlike the characters.

I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Cindy Burnett (Thoughts from a Page).
565 reviews979 followers
April 4, 2016
4.5 stars

Here Comes the Sun is both beautiful and heartbreaking. While the story was much sadder than I expected it to be, I truly loved the book and will be thinking about the story and the characters for quite some time.

Nicole Dennis-Benn weaves a tale of greed, longing, and betrayal on the island of Jamaica. She deftly portrays the paradox Jamaica has become where extreme poverty exists side-by-side with untold wealth and the trouble that results. Using Jamaican patois and highly descriptive prose, Dennis-Benn dispatches the reader to the coasts and seas that make up the island. Two sisters, Margot and Thandi, share a mother (Delores) but that is where the similarity ends. Margot works several jobs, including engaging in prostitution, at a nearby extravagant resort to pay for her younger sister Thandi’s education at a local elite private high school. Delores and Margot believe Thandi is the family’s key to breaking free from the world in which they live – stolen electricity, no indoor plumbing, and a shack for a house. As Thandi gets close to the end of her school career, she feels the pressure from her family while wanting to pursue her own interests.

The story is a deep and desperately sad tale which I could not put down. While telling the tales of the various characters, Dennis-Benn also vividly depicts the way tourism runs roughshod over the residents in poor countries. Entire towns are evicted from their homes with little if any recompense and no where to go in order to build more and more colossal resorts. The author also addresses the mindset of certain cultures regarding same sex relationships and the pain and shame that results.

I highly recommend this book. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Christine .
178 reviews58 followers
June 26, 2020
Here Comes the Sun follows a Jamaican woman Margot, her teenage sister Thandi, and their mother Delores, living in a small village near the Montego Bay resorts. Margot works long hours at one of the resorts, both as an employee and spending time with the male guests after hours, while secretly being in love with a woman Verdene. Margot desperately tries to spare Thandie from having to make the kinds of sacrifices and choices she’s had to make. Margot puts all of her dreams, money, and effort into setting Thandie on a path towards becoming a doctor so she can lift the family up out of poverty. But Thandie is overwhelmed by the pressure Margot and their mother Delores put on her, and secretly dreams of being an artist and of being lighter skinned.

Please know this is not a happy book - do not be fooled by the cover. This is a truly devastating book that will make you feel all the feels. The characters are flawed and complex and endure a lot of fucked up shit. And yet, they inflict pain on themselves and others and engage in some truly infuriating behavior. (I’m looking at you Delores - I’m still mad at you). Dennis-Benn deftly and honestly weaves a wealth of issues into the story - modern colonialism, colorism, homophobia, intergenerational struggles, the cycle of poverty, the exploitative impact of tourism on Jamaica, and so much more. If you haven’t read this yet, please do. You’ll probably have your heart broken and become enraged but I promise you, it’ll be worth it.
Profile Image for Brooke.
276 reviews137 followers
April 22, 2017
I am very impressed with this debut. I wouldn't hesitate to read her future works. I believe it's worth noting the irony of the lovely, unassuming cover- this is truly a heartwrenching tale, one that will stay with me for a long time. Taking place in Jamaica, HERE COMES THE SUN focuses on the lives of Margot, Thandi, Delores & Vande. With themes of racism, classism, homosexuality, prostitution/trafficking, abuse (both human & animal), etc. this is a very heavy book to take in, but well worth the energy invested.

Just the iceberg of the premise: Delores sells her daughter, Margot, into the trafficking world for $600 when Margot is 14. Delores claims that it is to get rid of the "devil" inside Margot & believes this is the way to go about it. (She is harboring feelings for Vande & women loving women are known to be "witches" on the island. The homophobic hatred is strong but necessary to shed a light on.) Fast forward to the present when Margot is 30, still secretly in love with Vande & still working her escort job to help pay for her little sister Thandi's schooling. Margot gets offered a job proposition that sets the whole thing in motion- ruining her live & taking everyone down with her. Dennis-Benn's prose is so intoxicating, you can't bear to endure the pain of seeing how Margot's actions create permanent ripple effects, but you can't tear yourself away from the page either.

Definitely worth checking out when you're in the right frame of mind. Everything about this from the character development to the scenery worked for me & you never really know the true nature of one's intentions, rather Dennis-Benn peels off each layer at a time, which I really appreciated. The glumness is unwavering but is a worthy read indeed.
Profile Image for Cher.
801 reviews275 followers
July 9, 2020
4 stars - It was great. I loved it.


A gritty character study about hard lives, consequences, and the cycle of abuse, all told in a powerful story. The story points out that it sucks to be poor, or to live in Jamaica if you are gay.

As the story progresses, each character is revealed in phases like peeling an onion, as you learn more about their past and what made them who they’ve become. Your opinions and thoughts about each one evolve as each new layer is revealed.

The author especially does a wonderful job of showing how sometimes toxic mothers are unloving because they too were not treated well. Abuse and unhappiness are the only thing they know, and so, that’s what they give.

“You did more harm to me than anyone else,” she says to her mother.

Much of the dialogue is written in Jamaican dialect which made the story more immersive. The ending was not what I had hoped for from the plot, but I always appreciate when a book ends unpredictably. Impressive for a debut novel.

“At di end ah di day, dis is we life. Look around uh, gyal. Look where yuh is. Dis piece ah ground worth more than we. Yuh see dis air we breathing? Is debt we owing.”


Favorite Quote: Margot was ten years old when Delores came home from work one day and saw her beaming. Immediately the muscles in Delores’s chest tightened at the sight of white teeth peering through brown flesh. Something seemed odd about it.

First Sentence: The long hours Margot works at the hotel are never documented.
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