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3.74  ·  Rating details ·  5,412 Ratings  ·  328 Reviews
The coming-of-age story of one of Jamaica Kincaid's most admired creations.

Lucy, a teenage girl from the West Indies, comes to North America to work as an au pair for Lewis and Mariah and their four children. Lewis and Mariah are a thrice-blessed couple--handsome, rich, and seemingly happy. Yet, almost at once, Lucy begins to notice cracks in their beautiful facade. With m
Paperback, 176 pages
Published September 4th 2002 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published October 22nd 1990)
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Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
*Rereading this book. First time I read it was in 2013 for a class, now I'm rereading for another class for the exact same professor. Clearly she adores this book. Hoping I get more out of it this time.

Update: I got nothing new out of it the second time around. I just don't care about Lucy. Her character doesn't make sense to me and her story frustrates me in ways that I don't find very productive. Not to mention the fact that I hate the ending and the way it just drops off without a real conclu
Kristina A
Apr 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Leslie Reese
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading Lucy so much that it makes me want to go back and read Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John all over again because I think I'm "ready," now, for this writer's particular voice.
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
Lisa Kelsey
Jan 29, 2014 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
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: caribbean-creole
This is a fantastic novel. While I understand that its writing, considered on its own, may not wow everyone, the subject matter/ social commentary was superbly handled.

On writing: I read this slim novel slowly, taking the time to do what I very rarely do - reread every second paragraph or so to appreciate its structure. The book is written in first-person narrative throughout, and external events do not get in the way of the plot, which is Lucy's gradual emotional separation from her family back
Dec 16, 2008 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
This book is one of my absolute favorite books of all time. Check out my mini-review here:
Top 5 Required Reading.
Crystal Belle
Apr 30, 2009 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
This was a strange but interesting book.
It is supposed to be the coming-of-age story of Lucy, a 19 year old girl from Antigua who comes to the US as an au pair. Lucy herself is very judgemental of the family that she works for and despite them (especially the mother) being very kind to her she doesn't treat them with much regard.
Lucy's character was actually kind of the biggest problem I had with this book. I find her extremely unlikeable. As I mentioned, she behaves very strangely to everyone s
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"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 10, 2011 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
Jan 28, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Nonostante sia un romanzo breve e pieno di temi interessanti (l'emigrazione, le profonde differenze culturali e sociali, il conflitto madre/figlia, lo sfaldamento di famiglie apparentemente perfette) mi ha annoiato a morte.
Nessun tema è stato approfondito dall'autrice e la stitichezza emotiva della protagonista ha posato una pietra tombale sul mio interesse.
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 26, 2015 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
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I first read Kincaid's "Biography of a Dress" in a required creative nonfiction English class. I instantly loved her style: her interweaving images that submerged and surfaced throughout the essay, the cadence of her language, the subtlety with which she addressed complex social issues, her nuanced character development, her sprawling sentences, her oscillation between past and present. Expecting the same, I decided to read this novel.

I felt disappointed at first. The style is not so stunning as
Sep 04, 2012 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
Nov 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
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
Sep 26, 2011 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
Diana Welsch
Dec 03, 2014 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
Apr 14, 2014 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
Daniel Simmons
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At a party of upper-crust Manhattanites, who look like they stepped out of the pages of a fashion catalogue, 19-year-old Antigua-born au pair Lucy Josephine Potter finds to her disgust that "They had somehow all been to the islands -- by that, they meant the place where I was from -- and had fun there. I decided not to like them just on that basis; I wished once again that I came from a place where no one wanted to go, a place that was filled with slag and unexpectedly erupting volcanoes, or whe ...more
Dayle Lynne
Jan 09, 2013 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
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
Reread Kincaid's amazing novel. The protagonist is just as honest and angry as I remember. Lucy traveled from a Caribbean island to work as an au pair for a white family in America.

"Of course his life could be found in the pages of a book; I had just begun to notice the lives of men always are...I was not a man; I was a woman from the fringes of the world, and when I left home I had wrapped around my shoulders the mantle of a servant."

Lucy is on a journey to adulthood. She is in a constant battl
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
Nov 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
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
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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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“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.” 28 likes
“I wish that I could love someone so much that I would die from it.” 27 likes
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