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Frying Plantain

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,310 ratings  ·  230 reviews
Kara Davis is a girl caught in the middle — of her Canadian nationality and her desire to be a “true” Jamaican, of her mother and grandmother’s rages and life lessons, of having to avoid being thought of as too “faas” or too “quiet” or too “bold” or too “soft.” Set in “Little Jamaica,” Toronto’s Eglinton West neighbourhood, Kara moves from girlhood to the threshold of adul ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Astoria
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Kyra I think people tend to forget that children as young as 13 and 14 are aware of and exposed to drugs, sex, alcohol etc. This book is not explicit in an…moreI think people tend to forget that children as young as 13 and 14 are aware of and exposed to drugs, sex, alcohol etc. This book is not explicit in any of these areas, though it does mention them. It completely depends on the child, but I think books like these are a great opportunity to open a safe and productive dialogue between parents and children. (less)

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chantel nouseforaname
I don't think I've ever felt as seen in the world, as I have while reading this book. Sharing so many characteristics with the main character Kara: growing up a young, black, second-generation Jamaican teen in a priority Toronto neighbourhood, it was just a joy to read this book. Representation was at its highest and I felt hyperreal.

I loved that this novel was set in Toronto. It reminds me of my life when it came to high school and friends and the teenage struggle to become your own person; t
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this interconnected short story collection. The setting is Toronto and our main character , of Jamaican heritage, lives with her single mother. We follow Kara from childhood through to university age as she tries to fit in as a Canadian, but also retain her Jamaican roots.

To me this was an immigrant story, with a strong emphasis on mother - daughter relationships, whether between Kara and her mother Eloise or Eloise and her mother Verna. All mothers want their children to su
Anna Luce
3 ¾ stars

“I wondered if all daughters fought with their mothers this way when they grew up.”

Frying Plantain presents its readers with a vibrant coming-of-age. Through the course of twelve chapters Zalika Reid-Benta captures a girl's transition from childhood to adolescence into young adulthood. But this is far from a conventional Bildungsroman as within each chapter Reid-Benta hones in on a particular moment of her protagonist's life, playing with perspective and style.
Kara Davis, a second-ge
Never Without a Book
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Growing up Black, and a child of immigrants can be tough. This is a collection of interconnected stories rooted in the Toronto neighborhood of Eglinton West and Marlee. Kara Davis who is caught in the middle of being a true Jamaican like her mother and growing up in Canadian.
I am a child of Caribbean immigrates so I know Kara’s story all too well.

Growing up in two different worlds is not an easy task. Kara and her mother butt heads at times but the friction between Kara’s mother Eloise and gra
Nov 11, 2019 rated it liked it
“This likkle girl here, she love the plantain, yuh know,” she tells Sister Bernice. “It nah Christmas food but mi cook it on Christmas for her. I bring she back to Hanover last year for my niece's wedding, must've been Kara's second visit to Jamaicar. Nothing troubled her when she visit the first time but last year? Lawd. She had a sickness inna her belly that make she chrow up. Only thing she could keep down was plantain and she nah want Bredda's wife plantain, she only want fi eat what mi f
Abbie | ab_reads
When a book has glowing reviews from @reads.and.reveries, @bookofcinz, @end.notes and @ns510reads, I KNOW I'm in for an excellent read. Frying Plantain just proved that! This was my second interwoven short story collection of August, although this one is a lot more direct. All of the stories follow Kara Davis as she grows up in 'Little Jamaica' in Toronto. It's like the bookish equivalent of a film highlights reel, as we get to see some of the defining episodes of Kara's upbringing.
So we start
Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta is an amazing and wonderous debut novel that you will fly through and absolutely love- I promise you!

I sat down and read Frying Plantain in one sitting, it was utterly interesting and delightful. Frying Plantain is a collection of twelve interconnected stories that follows Kara Davis from elementary school to university. Kara Davis is a Canadian by birth, both her mother and grandmother are Jamaican. The neighbourhood she lives in is a melting pot of Car
Aug 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Frying Plantain is a debut anthology of twelve interlinked short stories about Jamaican-Canadian girl Kara Davis who is trying to reconcile her life and the culture of Toronto with that of her Jamaican heritage. It centres on her coming of age growing up in the Eglinton West neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario, known colloquially as Little Jamaica and specifically focuses on a ten year period from childhood and elementary school right through to high school graduation and her admission to Universi ...more
FRYING PLANTAIN by Zelika Reid-Benta, 2019 by @houseofanansi

#ReadtheWorld21 📍 Jamaica / diaspora

Big fan of interlocking short stories - I like following the progression of characters or a larger story at different stages and angles.

Frying Plantain follows teenager Kara Davis, a second generation Canadian of #Jamaican descent living with her mother in Toronto. Female relationships and dynamics are a primary focus here, specifically mothers and daughters across generations, and frien
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a great debut. A collection of short, interconnected stories following Kara and her navigation of the in-between. In-between Jamaican and Canadian. In-between girl and woman.

The stories explore Kara's rather fraught relationship with her iron-willed and controlling mother, her very intense grandmother and detached grandfather. As a first generation Canadian, Kara is unsure of how she should exist, how she should portray herself to the white kids at her elite school and how to balance h
Ebony Rose
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Every so often a book captures your life experiences so acutely that you feel an intense connection to the story, seeing yourself reflected so clearly on the pages that it almost feels a bit frightening. Frying Plaintain, a collection of interwoven stories featuring a main character named Kara whom we follow from early childhood to her late teen years, did just that for me. Kara and I share a lot of similarities: children of Jamaican immigrants who grew up in working class Toronto neighbourhoods ...more
I‘m always amazed when an author‘s debut is so well developed. Frying Plantain are 12 interconnected stories following Kara Davis, who is Canadian born and of Jamaican heritage, from elementary school through high school into university. Since each of the stories follows Kara and her immediate family (her mother Eloise, her Nana, and her grandfather) and some friends, there was enough room for character development and I felt like I got to know Kara really well. Some of her struggles felt very f ...more
Darryl Suite
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
A really nice coming of age short story collection about a Jamaican-Canadian girl. It spans from elementary school to high school graduation. And all the mischief that evokes. It deals with Kara's relation to her volatile family (especially her mother and grandmother), her friendships with the girls in her neighborhood and how it contrasts to her friendships at her predominantly white high school, the messiness of her first kiss, etc. I loved reading about how every character evolved as the stor ...more
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As an Indian, the image of plantain cooking in grease is not alien to me. An incredible debut collection Frying Plantain is as flavourful as its name suggests; a flavour that's easy to take in and yet stays long after every bit has been consumed with relish.

Almost novelistic in effect, this beautiful collection of 12 interlinked stories follows Kara Davis — a second-generation Canadian of Jamaican descent — from elementary school to high school graduation, negotiating family, control, friends
Maria Zuppardi
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The characters are so loveable, and they do hit right in the feels sometimes. I loved the writing, and honestly, interconnected short stories are my absolute favourite! Plus, this book takes place in my city, Toronto, which was just a bonus for me since I recognized most of the areas it took place!

If you're looking for some kind of diverse book to read for Black History Month (but also, throughout the entire year), then hop on this one immediately!
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
A lovely coming-of-age story about a young Jamaican-Canadian girl with roots in the Eglinton West and Marlee area of Toronto. Kara is caught in the crossfire of the tension between her mother and her grandmother, whose epic battles have deep roots. She grapples with the challenge of forging her own path under her controlling family’s watchful eye, while dismissed by her friends for her standoffishness. No huge traumas, just life and mess. I really liked it, loved the local feel too. 3.5.
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lawdamassy where do I even begin with this review?!
For once I could find myself in the same world as the characters. For one - the city. Majority of books I read are based in the U.S. While I’ve visited quite a few American cities it is a stark difference from growing up in one.

This book had me remembering my childhood, teen years and university days as a young Black woman born to Jamaican parents and having grown up in a suburb outside of Toronto. The author expertly weaves in Toronto life - t
Areeb Ahmad (Bankrupt_Bookworm)
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-copy
"I could tell she knew I was lying but she didn't ask me any more questions, she only turned the volume back up on the TV. She had to know what I'd only just now discovered: that peace could only exist in this family when we lied about everything, at least to each other."


Zalika Reid-Benta's wonderful debut features twelve interconnected short stories narrating the life of Kara Davis who is not able to fit in. Growing up between very distinct worlds, her Canadian nationality always in
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was kindly gifted a copy of the Canadian edition of Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta (@houseofanansi) by my friend Thu (@thuchainz), and when I read it I listened alongside with the audiobook which is narrated by Ordena Stephens-Thompson - highly recommend both formats.
This debut is a collection of interconnected short stories following teen Kara Davis over a few years, set in the Eglinton West neighborhood of Toronto known as Little Jamaica. The stories are very situational and bring man
Jaay Fearless
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
It was my first time reading this style of book (a collection), and I actually found it refreshing!

It means something to me, to read a book in which I feel seen. I was able to see myself in many of Kara’s lived experiences, and most times, identify wholeheartedly.

I chuckled here and there while reading this collection, just hearing my own mother or grandmother saying the very things that Kara’s mother and grandmother would say. Even the things that weren’t said were so easy to understand in th
Shivanee Ramlochan
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
At the core of Frying Plantain simmers the radiant, often-too-hot heat of the complicated love between mother and daughter. Reid-Benta shows us, in a debut that straddles short story and novel genres, how much control there is in love, in the generations of its dispensation, how the love between Jamaican-Canadian grandmothers, mothers, and daughters is transferred, through good cook food and sharp words, through hopes and late night drives, Taco Bell wrappers and oxtail made just right. This boo ...more
Jaclyn Crupi
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I haven’t read enough short story collections this year (Shirl and Smart Ovens for Lonely People are the best of what I’ve read). This is described as ‘12 interconnected stories’ but I felt it took similar form to Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett or All That Man Is by David Szalay (but with the same protagonist). In any case, it was excellent and form is always interesting to think about.
Orla Hegarty
The explorations of immigrant grandmother-daughter-granddaughter (and incidental grandfather-father) relationships were mesmerizing. What a storyteller this young woman is! And she lived in the Toronto area where I raised my own daughter with my mum (irish immigrant) living closeby (Little Jamaica - Eglinton West). I am so glad that her writing crossed my path even though while we all were neighbours it didn't happen - I do remember the house with all the political party signs on it on Whitmore ...more
Anne Logan
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Can I get a hurrah for linked short story collections? Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta is a quiet yet decisive book that doesn’t gloss over the first and second generation immigrant experience in Canada. And instead of getting a disjointed look at these experiences through a raft of different characters, we follow one person, Kara Davis, as she grows from a young girl into a university student in the city of Toronto, Canada. Because of this focus on one character and her immediate surroundi ...more
Nadia L. Hohn
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a wondrous collection of short stories! This reads almost like a novel as it is a continuous narrative arc featuring Kara but it goes from the age of 12 to about 19. Kara is a second-generation Jamaican teen living in three of Toronto's neighbourhoods-- Wilson/Bathurst, Eglinton West (little Jamaica), and downtown. This book is about community and so many raw specific incidents. This book had me wondering how much of it was autobiographical since I could relate to so many incidents. Nana re ...more
Bre (Loc'd Booktician)
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Frying Plantain is a story that depicts being an immigrant, Canadian, and tying to fit in. I found Kara, the main character to be charming and just trying to figure out things as she goes. This is a familiar tell of inter generational conflict.

Conflicts arose with Kara and friends (who I did not like). Kara and boys who did not believe her body to be her own. Kara and her Jamaican cultural identity. Was she Jamaican enough? Kara relationship with her grandmother, mother, and grandfather.

It was
Kim Trusty
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Incredible first collection of short (connected) stories by Zalika Reid-Benta. Superbly crafted, microscopic look at The Lives of Black Girls and Women in/around Toronto's Little Jamaica. Can't lie: the validation I felt reading "Frying Plantain" was almost overwhelming, but entirely welcome.
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
'Her comebacks were harsher and her accent was better. Real. Not something she had to put on. The rest of us just cobbled together what we could from listening to our parents or grandparents.'

R E L A T A B L E A F . And I don't mean that in an offhand or dismissive way. In reading Zalika Reid Benta's debut I felt seen and understood. FRYING PLANTAIN is a series of 12 interconnected short stories that form the coming-of-age story of the Candadian-born Jamaican protagonist, Kara. From the opening
Thistle & Verse
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Received a review copy from Netgalley. Opinions are my own. This book follows Kara from middle school up to her senior year of high school. Kara's life is full of divisions - family members who love her but don't get along with each other, the neighborhood she's grown up in vs where she goes to school, the expectations she's held to vs the boys in her community. Kara tries to gain popularity, to ease the tensions in her family, and ultimately finds herself adrift. Reid-Benta offers a heartfelt p ...more
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ZALIKA REID-BENTA is a Toronto-based writer. Her debut short story collection FRYING PLANTAIN won the 23rd annual Danuta Gleed Literary Award and won the 2020 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize in literary fiction. It is currently longlisted for the 2020 Toronto Book Awards. FRYING PLANTAIN was shortlisted for the 2020 Trillium Book Award, longlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize and is currently n ...more

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