The Day I Fell Off My Island by Yvonne Bailey-Smith
It’s 1969 and Erna Mullings has just arrived in London from Jamaica. Finding herself in a strange country, with a mother she barely recognises and a step-father she despises, Erna is homesick, lost and lonely. Her life is about to change irrevocably.
*Shortlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2022*
‘A striking story with an unforgettable cast of characters you’d expect to find in the grandest work of fiction.’
Paperback. 256 pages
Publisher: Myriad (2021)
Size: 21.6cm x 13.5cm
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A story of reluctant immigration and the relationship between children and the people who parent them, The Day I Fell Off My Island is engrossing, courageous and psychologically insightful. Yvonne Bailey-Smith writes with great warmth and humanity as she explores estrangement, transition and, ultimately, the triumph of resilience and hope.
A psychotherapist and former social worker, she explains:
‘As an immigrant child, I often wished that someone had been able to take me aside and explain to me that leaving everything I knew to go on a so-called adventure to somewhere way beyond my imagination was going to cause me an unimaginable sense of loss and sadness. I also wish that the same person had been there to reassure me that I would survive and even flourish, given half a chance.’
'The richest, and most unusual, feature of the novel, is that the dialogue is written in Jamaican patois... It’s a bold stylistic decision, which draws you into a different way of life – one that is bright and vivacious, but also God-fearing and bound by a tight social etiquette… Though terrible things do happen in it, The Day I Fell Off My Island is a kind and forgiving novel… The book is threaded through with social issues that its author has encountered in more than 40 years as a social worker and psychotherapist: mental illness, domestic violence and, of course, the corrosive results of racism, but she was determined not to make Erna a helpless victim.' Claire Armitstead in The Observer
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