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These Ghosts Are Family

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A transporting debut novel that reveals the ways in which a Jamaican family forms and fractures over generations, in the tradition of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

Stanford Solomon has a shocking, thirty-year-old secret. And it’s about to change the lives of everyone around him. Stanford Solomon is actually Abel Paisley, a man who faked his own death and stole the identity of his best friend.

And now, nearing the end of his life, Stanford is about to meet his firstborn daughter, Irene Paisley, a home health aide who has unwittingly shown up for her first day of work to tend to the father she thought was dead.

These Ghosts Are Family revolves around the consequences of Abel’s decision and tells the story of the Paisley family from colonial Jamaica to present day Harlem. There is Vera, whose widowhood forced her into the role of single mother. There are two daughters and a granddaughter who have never known they are related. And there are others, like the house boy who loved Vera, whose lives might have taken different courses if not for Abel Paisley’s actions.

These Ghosts Are Family explores the ways each character wrestles with their ghosts and struggles to forge independent identities outside of the family and their trauma. The result is an engrossing portrait of a family and individuals caught in the sweep of history, slavery, migration, and the more personal dramas of infidelity, lost love, and regret. This electric and luminous family saga announces the arrival of a new American talent.

271 pages, Hardcover

First published March 3, 2020

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About the author

Maisy Card

3 books425 followers
Maisy Card is a writer and a librarian. Her debut novel, These Ghosts are Family, won an American Book Award, the 2021 OCM Bocas Prize in Fiction and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, the LA Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, The Center For Fiction's First Novel Prize, and an Audie Award in the Literary Fiction & Classics category. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review's "The Daily," The New York Times, Lenny Letter, AGNI, Guernica, and other publications. Maisy was born in St. Catherine, Jamaica, but was raised in Queens, New York. She earned an MFA in Fiction from Brooklyn College, an MLS from Rutgers University. She is currently an instructor for the Sackett Street Writers' Workshop and a fiction editor for The Brooklyn Rail.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,223 reviews
Profile Image for Roxane.
Author 116 books156k followers
August 10, 2020
There is a LOT going on here. Fascinating structure, strong writing, powerful.
Profile Image for Jamise.
Author 2 books151 followers
March 3, 2020
This book was interesting. Still gathering my thoughts even after a re-read. This is multi-layered novel that started off fantastic but I lost my way several times during the multitude of characters. This felt more like a collection of short stories rather than one fictional novel. I enjoyed the writing & historical fiction aspects of the novel but at times I wanted more closure from some of the stories. The last chapter still seems off to me. I feel like I'm missing something. 3.5 stars
Profile Image for Paige.
152 reviews286 followers
February 28, 2020
The connection of ancestors and how the dead still effect the living is explored in the tangled web of Irene Paisley and Stanford Solomon's family. Generations of family members are navigating their life decades and centuries later based on their past ancestors. A domino effect is seen when their Jamaican family members continue to comb through secrets, history, and lineage.

Each chapter goes through a story about a different family member. The multi-generational saga is weaves through different time periods and different family connections.
Jamaican history, plantation life for slaves, and the exploitation of women in 19th century Jamaica is explored throughout the novel as the characters try to atone with the ghosts of their past.

The first chapter starts off a bit confusing. It front-loads all of the characters and many events making it hard to separate who from who and what from what. But after that short introduction, everything fell into place. The Jamaican dialogue was hard to understand sometimes, but I could figure out what was happening overall.

I received an advance readers copy through Netgalley and Edelweiss. Opinions are my own.
Profile Image for The Artisan Geek.
445 reviews7,229 followers
March 2, 2020
------------------BOOK REVIEW------------------
Did a video review of the book as well, it's a stunning debut!!

---------------AUTHOR INTERVIEW---------------

Had the chance to interview Maisy Card and talk about her book :)

This was an absolutely stunning read. So well put together, I'm completely blown away - would no doubt recommend this book! :)

A huge thank you to Simon & Schuster for gifting me a copy of this book. So stocked to read it!!

You can find me on
Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
Profile Image for Bobbieshiann.
313 reviews88 followers
January 27, 2020
The family tree assignment we had to do in elementary/middle school ain’t shit compared to These Ghost are Family. Here we have a book that portrays as one man’s lies, betrayal, and infidelity but instead, you get caught in a whirlpool. Faking his death was only Abel’s way of introducing us to a family lineage that holds secrets, migration, slavery, deception, and revenge. I haven’t read something this brilliant in awhile. From the 1700s to this current year, Maisy Card has found a way to give us a feel of plantation life, Jamaican culture, and the truth that the apple doesn’t fall that far from the tree in any country. I am here for it! I will take feeling like the nosy neighbor who got caught and couldn’t keep her findings to herself. I felt like the towns gossip! lol. A wonderful read that I could not put down.
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews45.7k followers
October 27, 2021
The most interesting thing in the world to me is ghosts.

My second-favorite question to ask people is "do you believe in ghosts," which is only a precursor to my favorite question, regardless of their answer: "do you have any ghost stories?"

If the latter is met with "no," I check out of the conversation entirely, never to have my interest roused again. (Unless someone asks my third- or fourth-favorite questions, which are gossip- and dating-based, respectively.)

This is a long-winded way of saying I liked the idea of ghosts in this book (because it was cool) and I liked the presence of ghosts in this book (because it's ghosts), but everything else fell a little flat for me.

And it may be due to who I am as a person.

Bottom line: Boo!
Profile Image for BookOfCinz.
1,390 reviews2,277 followers
May 26, 2020
Re-read for BookOfCinz Book Club
I love this book a lot more the second time around.

These Ghosts Are Family is Maisy Card’s debut novel that features a multi-generational narration from 1700s to 2000s.

These Ghosts Are Family opens with the revelation of Stanford Solomon’s three decade long secret- he is not who he says he is. Thirty years ago, Stanford Solomon, who is actually Abel Paisley assumed the identity of his best friend, Solomon who died during a work accident. Abel who was working in England at the time used the death of his friend as an opportunity to assume a new identity and sever the relationship he had with his wife and children back home in Jamaica. With age and knowing he doesn’t have long to life Abel reaches out to the daughter he left back in Jamaica. Irene Paisley, a home health aide shows up to attend to a man who turns out to be the father she’s mourned all her life.

I think this was a very ambitious book, in some ways it paid off and in other ways it did not. Here is what worked for me:

The individual stories of the Paisley family. I felt that Card really showed in a unique way how the decision of Abel affected those around him. There was no shortage of trauma or struggle for each character due to the lack of a father figure or being raised by a single mother. I felt that Card did a great job of showcasing how we are all “haunted” in different ways by different things.

The authenticity and research of the book. I loved how authentic the book felt. As a Jamaican I am always keen to read books that feel Jamaican and I felt Card did a great job of capturing all the cultural and historical nuances of Jamaica and Jamaicans.

The freshness and intoxicating read. I devoured this book; I could not stop reading it. For a debut novel it was very strong and well written for the most part. I know people who are not familiar with Patois might struggle a bit but that does not take away from how great the writing is in this book.

While I enjoyed the book, there are some things that did not work for me:

I felt the book was not as cohesive enough and would have worked better as a short story collection.

While I get the “Homegoing” reference in that we hear from one person at the beginning of the book but we don’t necessarily hear from them as the story continues with the following generation. I felt this was not as seamlessly executed as I wanted it to be.

I felt the ending was very abrupt and I am still not sure what happened there.

Overall, a really solid debut novel. I really enjoyed reading it and the “what did not work” really did not take away in a big way how enthralled I was with Card’s “These Ghosts Are Family”. I am so excited to read more from Card because she’s got a strong, very distinct voice that I know I will never get tired of hearing from.

Full review here: http://bookofcinz.com/these-ghosts-ar...

I highly recommend picking this book up
Profile Image for Kathryn in FL.
716 reviews
March 21, 2020
4 Stars for the first 85% of the book and the remaining balance of the story was not quite two stars because it read like an unrelated second story. This part seemed to have nothing to do with the novel that precedes it! More about the ending below.

When I first started "These Ghosts Are Family", I was all in. I was thinking yay, another five star read!

This story's primary focus is on a present day character, who grew up in Jamaica only to move to England and then started an entirely new life in America. It is a revealing of his life and circumstances and how it impacted various family members in Jamaica and the United States. Then about midway, we visit the plantation in Jamaica where his ancestors lived, those who were white and black and the turmoil of living in a very small place with terrible conditions and lots of secrets. There are multiple narrators that reveal events of life on the plantation just before and following the "Christmas Rebellion", where black slaves revolted throughout much of Jamaica against their white masters, overseers and their white families (many had slave families as well). This portion had some very interesting twists throughout this plot line. We eventually arrive at the present day, which becomes very ironic to the overall story.

The last few chapters seem to be wholly unrelated tale of three evil demon spirits that are able to take the form of both animals and humans at will. Though interesting, I kept waiting for this to tie into the entire story and it never did. Seriously, just skip this part unless you want to read a short story featuring ghosts that are actually vampires.

This is a debut novel that was very interesting and well written but the last part really disappointed me. I can't understand why a big publisher such as Simon Schuster would incorporate two tales that had little in common with one another except that it is the same community in Jamaica. Though I am at a loss here, I can only conclude that the connection was that both stories occur in the same evil place and some of the ghosts of the deceased came back to terrorize the area? Which leads to the question, why these people? They didn't harm anyone did they? I'd welcome anyone else's conclusions or insights.

3/21 Additional thoughts on this story, as I consider what I just read, I really must say I didn't like this second story at the end. While I understand she wants to incorporate as much as she can about the Jamaican culture which included how superstition overshadows much of those who lived in the past (there were a lot of "duppies" (their term for ghosts) mentioned in one part of the book), I didn't care for the vampire portion. In some ways her story reminded me of Edwidge Dannicat, who I stopped reading due to heavy weight she gives to witchcraft.
Profile Image for Sue.
1,228 reviews527 followers
March 17, 2020
What a complex story, unlike anything I have read before. Its different strands capture the very fractured lineage of many who originally called Jamaica their home. This is a tale of family lost and found, of historic racial divides, of families broken and trying to heal, of the impact of centuries of slavery in the Caribbean and of white male supremacy and its outcomes, including multitudes of children of rape.

The story moves back and forth in time from contemporary New York to early 19th century Jamaica, tracing relationships over those centuries, relationships that seemed to doom present-day youth to a life of limited identity and poor family relationships. Every adult appears to be hiding some facts about earlier family or to have been scarred into silence about the past. There is rebellion and rage and mental illness (or possible possession) as a result. Yes there are elements of magical presence in the story too.

This is a book that I’m glad I read for it’s a view and approach that is new and foreign to my experience. I recommend it to readers who would like the challenge of a new experience in both viewpoints and style but with a subject that is very much still current.

A copy of this book was provided by Simon & Schuster through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Monica.
582 reviews611 followers
November 21, 2020
Great storytelling. Interesting premise. Read mostly for entertainment. I enjoyed the book. A great debut!

4ish Stars

Listened to the audiobook. Karl O'Brian Williams was spectacular. This appears to be his first audio book. Hopefully it won't be his last!!
Profile Image for James.
88 reviews92 followers
September 15, 2022
4.5 stars — Uncertain of what to read next, I randomly picked this off my bookshelf, glanced at a few of the back-cover quotes about inherited trauma and family secrets across multiple generations, saw yet another Family Tree at the start of the book, and decided this might make an interesting companion read to Homegoing. What can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment.

But what a delightful surprise this turned out to be! Similar to my previous read, this is more or less a series of interconnected short stories about a Jamaican family grappling with the legacies of slavery, colonialism, family secrets, and personal regrets across several generations, each new story building toward a conclusion that left me gutted and gasping for air.

Unlike Homegoing, which shared its stories in chronological order, at times a bit too tidily and predictably for my tastes, this novel is ANYTHING but tidy and neat. It's a boldly ambitious, sprawling, dizzying, intoxicating mess of a novel, and I use the word "mess" as the highest form of flattery.

These stories zigzag back and forth across time, seemingly with no particular rhyme or reason, dropping in for brief but memorable visits everywhere from a sugarcane plantation in 19th century Jamaica, to post-colonial Kingston in the 1960's, to a West Indian grocery store and brownstone in 21st century Harlem.

It touches on many difficult and provocative themes including slavery, colonialism, class inequality/resentment, colorism, misogyny, drug addiction, gentrification, interracial marriage, the challenges of being a Jamaican immigrant in England and America, and of course lots of ghosts, both figurative and literal.

The author playfully experiments with form throughout, bouncing back and forth between first, second, and third-person narrative voices, occasionally even dabbling in 19th century diary entries, historical court documents, and Jamaican folklore.

There's a little bit of an "everything but the kitchen sink" feel to this at times, almost like the author had just been told she only had a few months left to live and knew this might be her first and only chance at writing a novel.

There are a few stumbles and missteps along the way as a result, and this doesn't quite stick the landing and bring everything together as satisfyingly as Homegoing did. But I'd also be lying if I didn't tell you this is one of the most exciting and exhilarating new books I've read in awhile.

Because the miracle of Maisy Card's impressive debut is that despite its epic multi-generational scope and gut-wrenching themes, it's a surprisingly intimate and accessible reading experience. Anyone familiar with my reading habits and reviews knows how much I value emotionally immersive stories featuring richly drawn and unforgettable characters, and this includes some of the most vivid and empathetic character work I've witnessed in a very long time.

“Perhaps, a life does not belong exclusively to one person,” a young character reflects early in this novel. And that's what I find myself still thinking about long after closing this book: The burdens of history that we all must share and survive, the myriad and often unseen ripple effects caused by one's choices and secrets and "sins," both structural and personal, our own as well as those of our ancestors.

I'm eager to read whatever Maisy Card writes next.
Profile Image for Michelle.
651 reviews184 followers
May 26, 2020
When I first picked up These Ghosts Are Family I thought it would be a contemporary novel focused on telling Stanford Solomon's story. How he assumes the life of another man and the impact this decision has on his family for generations to come. Yes, it is that story. But it is also a sweeping historical fiction that traces his Jamaican roots back to the 1700s. In this regard it reminds me of Yaa Gyasi's book Homegoing. But that is where the similarity ends. These Ghosts Are Family is a totally original work that deals with some very hard hitting issues. In the novel, the ghosts that haunt us are not only the mistakes of the past, but also the divisions that separate us as a people today. It is astounding the number of historical references that Card provided. I'm impressed with the skillful way that she introduced Jamaican culture and used magical realism to influence the telling of this important story.

Special thanks to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster and Maisy Card for access to this book.
Profile Image for Kiki.
188 reviews151 followers
December 5, 2021
Update: December 5, 2021

On a third read, this book holds up like the Rock of Gibraltar. As far as the less enthused responses to this debut go, some people mek sense and some people cyaan read.

Update: June 14, 2020

I didn’t love this book. These family secrets formed, as Miller placed it, “in the complication of roots, in the dirtiness of dirt,” drew too near. But there was true pleasure in experiencing such an intricately constructed, vividly spun debut heavy with substance, however dread. It evoked true admiration for Card’s choice to replicate the silences, the perhaps unfillable gaps, history’s inevitable incompleteness, rather than a more crowd pleasing, sweeping family saga, 500 pages long. And I formed a gut deep connection to these few lines in the macabre, glorious final chapter:

“Norma tried to warn them, to put fear in them, because it was clear that they had none. Norma would say what her mother told her: fear is what keeps little girls alive. What about blood? they asked Norma.”

These Ghosts are Family presents Jamaica as a people, a history, a physical place, an unplottable scape, imagination, and memory.

Full review at The Book Slut


March 4, 2020:Well, well, well. This may be a novel I respect more than I love but I end the book impressed, thinking of confessions, our understories in nearby bushes, and Nicole Dennis-Benn talking about how we raise our little girls in fear. To which Maisy Card has answered with blood.

Review at The Book Slut forthcoming.

Bookstagram | Twitter
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,039 followers
June 9, 2020
This (debut!) novel covers multiple generations of a Jamaican family and it starts in the middle, when a dying man decides to admit that he faked his death to his adult daughter. This isn't a typical family saga in the sense of a linear story; each chapter features characters related to Abel/Solomon either as offspring or ancestors. It deals with the ghosts of slavery; immigration, and memory. (Some reviews use the word colonialism instead of slavery, which masks the actual content.)

Along the way, I also learned some Jamaican history, some I feel sheepish for not knowing, for instance the connection between Haile Selassie and Rastafarianism (and now that I've read more about it, I feel pretty dumb! I mean I've even been to Jamaica!)

Maisy Card was born in Jamaica but raised in Queens; this is a great selection for ReadCaribbean month!

I received a copy of the book ahead of its publication date from the publisher; I neglected to read it until after its publication date, apologies. Opinions and rating are all my own.
Profile Image for Lauralai.
295 reviews294 followers
January 19, 2021
I’ve been sitting here staring at my wall for the past ten minutes trying to think of a way to describe this book.

Stanford Solomon has been keeping a shocking secret for the past thirty years. He is actually Abel Paisley, a man who faked his own death and stole the identity of his best friend in order to build a new life.

It’s an absolute mindfuck from there.

I actually think that this is the kind of book that people should go into without much knowledge of the plot. I didn’t know anything about it when I picked it up, and I think that that really made the story all the more shocking and gripping. This is Maisy’s debut novel and I can say right now that I will read literally anything she puts out after this. Her writing is gripping, emotional, horrifying at times and very, very real. Please read it!

4.5 Stars
Profile Image for Megan.
92 reviews11 followers
January 13, 2020
What a debut novel!

After sitting with this book for about a week I have come to the conclusion that this is my favorite novel of 2020 thus far. This is one of those novels that when you finished it, you have to take a moment to process the experience you've just had. This book was such an incredible plunge into all of the twists and turns that formed this family throughout the generations.

Stanford Solomon is actually Abel Paisley, a man who faked his death and went to America to start over. The only person that knows his secret is his wife. Let me make this clear, this story is NOT about Abel alone. Abel is the baseline of where the story begins and this is a reflection of the consequences of his actions. This story has themes history, slavery, migration, infidelity, lost love, and regret as we go through each character.

I was really compelled to keep turning the pages. So many characters, so many connection, this one really had my brain in overdrive. So not only a pleasurable read, it was stimulating as well. This is not a book that you should read extremely fast because you will miss something, and if you do, you may find yourself lost in the storyline. This novel really works your memory to make the connections and fit everything in place.

There are portions in the book where you are unsure of who is narrating because it seems like you are on the outside of the situation just observing not necessarily experiencing. Like a fly on a wall in this case it’s a Ghost, like a family historian guiding you through it all. You will also experience some Jamaican folklore in this novel with provides an interesting twist to say the least!

I loved this novel but I can also see how this will be a polarizing read. Some will love it and some will hate it. I don’t really see the in between happening.

How much of your family tree do you know? Myself- not much but there are reasons that are beyond my control.

Side note: If you aren’t familiar with Jamaican patois that may slow your reading experience down a bit.

Profile Image for Theresa.
227 reviews140 followers
February 19, 2020
Wow. "These Ghosts Are Family" is a fantastic novel! I decided to give this a chance even though I have a love/hate relationship with historical fiction. I must admit, this is the best I've read in that genre so far. I absolutely enjoyed every second of reading this, well expect the last chapter (got a little too magical realism for my taste). It's hard to believe this is Maisy Card's debut novel. Her writing is flawless. The prose was funny, moving, and vibrant. The characters really exploded off the page. Some people are complaining about the dialogue, but I didn't find it hard to understand. This book touches on some sensitive subject matter such as racism, enslavement, psychical and sexual abuse, abortion, drug addiction, trauma, and death. Even though the dark moments are what makes this book memorable and powerful, there's also some lighter moments that will stick with you as well. I didn't mind the non-linear format, I thought it added tension and drama to the overall story. This one took me by surprise. Such an unexpected gem. An intense and gripping family saga. Highly recommended!

Thank you, Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for the digital ARC.

Release date: March 3, 2020
Profile Image for Jaime.
111 reviews360 followers
February 26, 2020
simonandschuster #partner | Listen, put Maisy Card’s These Ghosts are Family on your radar. Put it on your TBR. Add it to your cart. Preorder it. Then read it.⠀


It doesn’t come out until March 3rd, and it’s about a man named Stanford Solomon holding a thirty year old secret. Stanford is actually Abel Paisley, a man who faked his own death and stole another man’s identity. This story revolves around the consequences of Abel’s decision and tells the story of the Paisley family from colonial Jamaica to present day Harlem.⠀

Initially, I was interested in this one just off of the synopsis alone. Let me tell you that it didn’t prepare me for the journey that the story took me on
Profile Image for Read In Colour.
283 reviews443 followers
March 3, 2020
If you've read Bernadine Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other, then you know that all of the characters in the book are loosely connected but have their own story to tell. These Ghosts Are Family follows this same formula, though I don't think I was aware of that before I started reading it. Nevertheless, the majority of the story lines and characters are fascinating, though not all are as fleshed out as others.

I was intrigued by this idea of a secret, stolen identity - living as someone else for so long that most people who remembered the real you have passed. And yet, the author didn't dwell on that 30 year secret for long. In some instances, I really wish she would have.

Overall, These Ghosts Are Family is a really good read, but I must admit that the author lost me in the last quarter of the book. With an abrupt departure from "regular" fiction to speculative fiction, I wasn't prepared for the shift and, unfortunately, was never able to get back on track.
Profile Image for Katie Long.
267 reviews56 followers
June 17, 2020
Gah, I hate to be negative about a debut, especially one where the author is clearly talented and is experimenting with her style; but the non-linear narrative along with all of the shifts of perspective and point of view (especially in the earlier chapters) were complications and I could never see the intent of them. It all just felt muddled to me.
Profile Image for Ms.pegasus.
695 reviews130 followers
November 8, 2020
Affordable DNA testing has catalyzed interest in genealogy. Sites like Ancestry.com and programs like “Who Do You Think You are?” propagate innocent fantasies of a link to royalty or to a historically prominent name. Author Maisy Card presents a darker option, one permeated by restless ancestral ghosts and unatoned for injustices.

There are many beautiful passages in this book, and the changes of viewpoint is effective. However, this novel did not hang together as a whole for me. Instead, it felt like a series of short stories: Vera and her fractured family; Louise Marie's epiphany; and the concluding ghost story of the three children. I never felt the ghosts as a psychological reality, and therefore could not immerse myself in the haunted perspective of the characters.
Profile Image for Erin Glover.
451 reviews36 followers
March 15, 2020
This fascinating novel about generations of Jamaican families beginning on a slave plantation in the 1800's has a little something for everyone. Along with the horrors inflicted on individual slaves, especially the rapes of slaves by the masters, there is a heroin-addicted Jamaican mother in the US, a Jamaican who fakes his own death, adultery, and ghosts.

The addict's mother muses about her husband returned from the dead and her daughter's heroin addiction to the addict's daughter: "Other people are so desperate to make a better life that they are willing to steal one, while your mother is fine with throwing hers away." A Jamaican woman is duped by a cheating husband. "In her naivete, she thought that since this man slept with her and complained about his wife, it meant she had a chance of replacing her." There is plenty of drama in These Ghosts are Family.

The disparity in treatment of whites and blacks in the West Indies is astonishing. Class distinctions between "low" whites, whites, and blacks are set in concrete. Card really drills down into racism through her treatment of a young girl adopted by the plantation owner, the girl being in fact half black, but passing for white. When she is forced to pick sides (is she black or white?) the novel takes a very thrilling turn. Card does it again when an older Jamaican woman uses one of her workers as essentially a sex slave, showing stratification and hierarchies in the black community itself.

The number of characters and their relationships can become confusing. It's a good thing card puts a family tree at the beginning of the book. But even the family tree doesn't answer all the questions about how each character is related. Indeed, it appears that a couple has married not knowing they are distant cousins.

The ending of the book, and the point of ghosts will require a lot of reflection. By titling subchapters "birth", "puberty", "adolescence", "death", "rebirth" we get the sense that Card is referring to the circle of life. Or is she talking about something more sinister? Are we actually reading a horror story? It's difficult to tell until you read the book, step back, and look at the work as a whole.

Card has written an engaging and thrilling novel about lies and racism, with some black magic thrown in for good measure. It's important to refer back to the family tree to really figure out where she's going. Are the ghosts still haunting us today?
Profile Image for Jherane Patmore.
200 reviews74 followers
July 15, 2020
Peak Jamaican man- fakes his death to avoid familial responsibilities and that's just the start of this family's secrets.

The most complicated and accurate fiction book I've read this year that reaches deep and wide into understanding the post-colonial impact on families, all of these stories were believable and uncomfortably familiar.

To be honest, the first couple of chapters were a drag. When I started this book earlier this year I had to put it down because it was contributing to my reading slump. I decided to try the audiobook instead, and Karl O'Brian Williams deserves awards for his performance. He brought the story to life for me and did an AMAZING job of bringing across the range of emotions and in many parts, and the twisted humour of Jamaicans to tek serious tings mek joke.

I enjoyed the latter half of this book thoroughly. The delicate, yet intense, layers Maisy Card puts together to make this family's tree deep, twisted, and wide, is not your typical debut.
Profile Image for Audrey.
1,560 reviews54 followers
February 24, 2020
2.5 stars

I was really enjoying this read, despite some unevenness. It’s more like Homegoing, where each chapter focuses on a family member, either an ancestor or descendent of Abel. The synopsis is a bit misleading bc it’s to really focused on The fallout after Abel reveals himself to his daughters. But, the wheels fell off in the last chapter. I actually reread it to be sure I wasn’t missing the point, but even after the reread, I still don’t get it. It’s unfortunate bc there was a lot of compelling storytelling and interesting characters and developments.

I received an arc from the publisher but all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for lucky little cat.
546 reviews102 followers
August 9, 2020
Mesmerizing series of stories of a family's experiences from slavery in Jamaica to descendants' present-day lives in NYC. One of those rare novels where every word feels right and true.

The chapters are loosely connected and chunks of the history are missing (like real life), so readers who insist on resolved endings and complete stories beware.

But readers who love poetry and powerful stories (no matter how fragmented) will want to remember this author's name.
Profile Image for Marc.
205 reviews21 followers
July 12, 2020
This was such a complex and compelling novel. So many characters, so many stories--I'm still processing it! At times I became lost, trying to understand and identify the voice of the character I was reading but it was worth it. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for a. a. d. wolfe.
11 reviews12 followers
February 14, 2020

image via my instagram.

I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy of These Ghosts Are Family--thank you to Simon and Schuster.

The good: This was one hell of a debut novel. The writing was raw, vivid, and strong, and kept hooked from beginning to end. I was not expecting it to be more of a collection of stories, but I was pleasantly surprised. The story spans a large chunk of time and jumps to different characters and point of views, but the writing was so clear that I was not confused in the slightest. What I appreciated most was that each character was multi-faceted and had a distinctive voice; I truly felt that I was reading different stories. They each came to different conclusions about the concept of family and lineage. Carbon-copies they were not.

The not-so-good: I took off a star because there was one character that I did not resonate with at all and I felt that their section was unnecessary. This character is not "in the family" so it feels disjointed. Some of the plot banked a little too much on luck. The "right place and the right time" thing happens more than once, which is too much. The ending also falls a bit flat and I don't feel that it ever circles back to the beginning.

Final thoughts: Well written, roller-coaster of emotions, excellent read--would recommend! Thank you again to Simon and Schuster.
Profile Image for Lindsay Loson.
404 reviews69 followers
May 24, 2020
Libro.fm contacted me and gave me access to their monthly audiobooks, so I'd first like to thank them for this one! This was my first positive audiobook experience. The narration was fantastic and lent so much more to this story than if I had just read a physical copy.

I really did enjoy this book, but I think it may have worked better if it had just been a short story collection. Though all of the stories inside of it are connected in one way or another, some didn't quite fit as well as they could have, and there was no real resolution to any of them. I wanted to know more about the lives of Abel's family members, and I felt like just as soon as you would learn some new, interesting information, that the gears would shift and never go back to that plot point. I think that Card is an incredibly talented writer, and makes all of these characters jump off the page, I just wished for more. I felt like there was too heavy of an emphasis on Louise and Petergaye (sp?), that could have been pared down a bit, because their story was important for the light it shed on the Paisley family's origins, but otherwise it was too long. I also was so taken aback by how it ended! There are mentions of spirits, ghosts, and demons throughout the book but then it just went full force into talk of supernatural events. And while I think it was something that needed to be included, I think that as an ending it just didn't quite work for me.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,215 reviews551 followers
June 17, 2020
Sad. This is told rather inside out and upside down and from beyond the grave looking backwards with very mortal revenge qualities rather intact.

For me it was a 2.5 star read rounded up for the unique slants of "eyes". But it's still way too full of misery and generational heavy duty baggage for me to become embedded. I wan't and some of the characters remained for me close to stereotypes of effusion.

But not Abel or his alias. That's what really made me round it up. It (the entire dire novel) also feels like a circle with no beginning or end. Which is another aspect that for ME (while others seem to like that universality) puts me off big time. I much prefer progression with a beginning, middle and end. And happier capacity people too.

I'm absolutely sure that this will be it for me with this author. Mean type of banality seems like an internal status quo in the tone of the outlook. I'm particular for reading with more aspirations or something positive cradled in its heart. And this type of writing form and subject matter is not it.
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