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Fingerprints of Previous Owners

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  106 ratings  ·  29 reviews
At a Caribbean resort built atop a former slave plantation, Myrna works as a maid by day; by night she trespasses on the resort’s overgrown inland property, secretly excavating the plantation ruins that her island community refuses to acknowledge. Rapt by the crumbling walls of the once slave-owner’s estate, she explores the unspoken history of the plantation—a site where ...more
Paperback, 212 pages
Published June 13th 2017 by The Unnamed Press
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Average rating 3.42  · 
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 ·  106 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Reviews May Vary
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-books
‪I’m becoming decreasingly likely to read POC stories written by white authors. (I also read the author’s bio to make sure nothing felt gross before reading). I’m glad I read it. And this old article: ...more
Helen Power
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
In her debut novel, Entel transports you to a fictional island in the Caribbean, where a resort has been built over the ruins of a plantation. The protagonist, Myrna, is a maid by day, but by night she explores the island, yearning to uncover its secrets. The story builds slowly, its captivating words drawing you in, and the plot culminates in a powerful, thought-provoking conclusion.
Mike Finn
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Fingerprints Of Previous Owners' (2017) is an exceptional book: diverse, credible characters; beautifully crafted descriptions and perfectly inflected dialogue, and an innovative structure work together to deliver a view of the legacy of slavery, its modern faces and the ways in which a community descended from slaves deal with their heritage and their present challenges.

This is not a polemic or a thinly-written anthem for the newly-woke. This is a novel that is firmly centred in the experienc
Leo Walsh
Nov 16, 2017 rated it liked it
We Americans forget that African slaves the United States represented a sliver of the total transported to the New World. Most were employed in the Carribean and South American, harvesting sugar cane and extracting other labor-intensive raw materials to make their owners rich. Rebecca Entel traces the residue of slavery in a small Carribean community in Fingreprints of Previous Owners.

The book's main character, Myrna, is passive, shadowy, and submissive to a fault. And yet, she's given to "explo
Rachel León
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
(4.25 stars, rounded up because it's a small press book)

This remarkable debut novel is set in the Caribbean. Myrna works as a maid for a resort that was built on the grounds of a former slave plantation and unlocks the island's past. It's a quiet novel, but quite beautiful, too.
Carmilla Voiez
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fingerprints of Previous Owners, the debut novel by Rebecca Entel, is a beautiful and heartbreaking read about generational trauma, colonialism and racism, set on a tiny (fictional) Caribbean island.

The island doesn't belong to Myrna's people and it doesn't belong to the corporation who have purchased land with broken promises and erected fences to keep out the local population. The indigenous population died out so long ago that no memories of them remain. Myrna's enslaved ancestors built and w
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was an intriguing story of the effect of not speaking about the past of the island at the center of the book, where a slaveholding plantation once existed. Most of the island inhabitants are descendants of the slaves, and their history is so brutal that they prefer not to revisit it. In the meantime, the island is being taken over by a resort that employs the "natives" in menial jobs and obscures the island's history for tourist's sake. When an African American from the US arrives as a gues ...more
Gail Bauser
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Those reviewers who have said this book was a nice story about a Caribbean Island have missed the point of the book. In this book, Entel gently explores racial inequities in a way that is not militant or preachy. The reader easily understands the main character, Myrna's, desire to learn about the history of the island's plantation. And Myrna takes us on a journey in which we explore the subtle, and not so subtle, habits in a racially divided resort. This thought provoking story is more than a si ...more
Leah Cripps
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
It took far too long for the history and the true plot to be revealed. This would have been a better book written as a factual non-fiction book. I found the character motivations unconvincing and tedious.
Lisa girlsinbooks
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: unfinished-stack

At a Caribbean resort built atop a former slave plantation, Myrna works as a maid by day; by night she trespasses on the resort’s overgrown inland property, secretly excavating the plantation ruins the locals refuse to acknowledge. Myrna’s mother has stopped speaking and her friends are focused on surviving the present, but Myrna is drawn to Cruffey Island’s violent past. With the arrival of Mrs. Manion, a wealthy African-American, also comes new information about the history of the sla
Wisconsin Alumni
Rebecca Entel MA’00, PhD’07

From the author:
At a Caribbean resort built atop a former slave plantation, Myrna works as a maid by day; by night she trespasses on the resort’s overgrown inland property, secretly excavating the plantation ruins.

Rapt by the crumbling walls of the once slave-owner’s estate, she explores the unspoken history of the plantation — a site where her ancestors once worked the land, but which the resort now uses as a lookout point for tourists.

When Myrna discovers a boo
Lucy Takeda
Oct 27, 2017 rated it liked it
There is some lovely use of language and poetry in this novel. I did run across some phrases that left me bemused. It is a haunting story.
Myrna lives on a Caribbean island that used to be a plantation. A luxury resort arrives, promising ample employment, but forbidding the locals to wander inland. The resort also rewrites history. The pay the employees receive is minimal, and they are treated horrendously. Myrna insists on searching for the real past. Then a black woman arrives at the resort as
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I dig books about dark secrets lurking beneath shiny veneers, so the premise of this novel definitely caught my attention. The rich, colorful Caribbean setting, which Entel brings to vivid life, also reeled me in. Unfortunately, neither was enough to keep me engaged in this slow, dull story. Long, dense chapters; choppy prose littered with fragmented sentences; and the lack of any real plot or action combined to make this a tedious, boring read for me. If I hadn't promised a tour host that I'd r ...more
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I received a copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway.

I really liked this book. The story was emotional and interesting, and the writing was a great contributor to that. At the beginning of the advanced copy I received, there was an author's note about her voice as a non-Caribbean author telling a colonization/slavery story. I think her choice to include that was a good one. As I'm a white woman myself, it's not really my place to say if she handled the culture and topic with appropriate res
Bobbie N
Sep 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Myrna works as a maid at a resort built on top of a former slave plantation, at night trespassing on the resort's overgrown inland property, secretly excavating the ruins of the plantation that the locals refuse to acknowledge. When a wealthy African-American arrives at the resort with new information about the history of the slave owner's estate, tensions erupt between the resort and the local island community. ...more
This had all the right ingredients for a compelling novel, but the execution just wasn't there.

On the one hand I found Myrna's journey of self discovery paired with her journey to understand her ancestors roots through the ruins of the slave plantation fascinating. But ultimately, I feel like that portion of the story took more of a backseat to the contemporary (and not as interesting) storylines revolving around the hotel and the great divide between tourist and residents.
Ivan Goldman
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
I found it shocking that the author teaches writing at an Ivy League university. She doesn't know enough to figure out which parts are worthwhile & which are not so she gives us both. Someone said she built the story slowly. That's a nice way of saying that she can't seem to get her story off the ground -- even though the subject is quite interesting. ...more
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
An unusual, thought provoking tale set on a tiny Caribbean island with ruins of a plantation and a single resort and those native to the island. The more you read, the more you must read and the more involved you become. This book makes you question many things that you never gave a thought to before.
Hope Broadway
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-reading
This book is very thought provoking. There's a vague, unsettled thread within this book which I think is true to life. Race relations are always under the surface and cause tension - even when things feel smooth.
The assholery of the resort is just blood-boiling. I hate when businesses do that.
Clayton HANSEN
Jul 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2017
Could not connect with this book, I wanted to like it, but not a chance. Myrna is a relatable character but she is not enough of a redeeming feature to keep a thin plot interesting. Sadly, this will be the lowest rating I have ever given as a member on Goodreads.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An amazingly easy read that took me away to the Caribbean.
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic novel about life on a Caribbean island. Beautiful writing. Highly recommended.
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Review will be on my blog for TLC blog tours on March 23rd.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
I couldn't warm up to this story no matter how I tried. Her use of language is lovely but the characters did not feel compelling. ...more
Nov 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book as it brought back memories and thoughts of previous trips and does a great job of helping the read view different perspectives. The author is super cool too!
Carla (happiestwhenreading)
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for the free copy to read and review. All opinions are my own.

Footprints of Previous Owners by Rebecca Entel explores the violent past of a slave plantation on a fictional island in the Caribbean.

I read this one while in Mexico, so while the tropical descriptions were easy to visualize, Entel’s descriptive writing helped me paint those images in my head with ease.

Myrna, the book’s main character, is a maid at the tourist resort by day, but at night she explores the
Kristin (Kritters Ramblings)
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

Myrna works as a maid at a resort that is on an island that she has lived on her entire life. She has a feeling that there is more to this island than the resort and that things are being covered up. She risks about everything she has to find out the truth.

I liked the concept of the book and I liked Myrna. The execution and the writing just didn't completely hit the mark for me. I rarely say this about the book, but I wanted more descriptions of the
rated it really liked it
Sep 09, 2017
rated it really liked it
Dec 04, 2018
Madeline Farrell
rated it it was ok
Feb 08, 2018
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