Hey guys. I’m back today with a review for you. You might remember the name Tracey Jackson from this review. Earlier this year, she had sent me my first ever ARC, her novel The Summer of Chances which I really enjoyed. Suffice it to say, when she asked me to review her new short story, I wasn’t about to say no.
From Yaad centers on Stevonie Campbell, a first-generation millennial of Jamaican heritage (bap bap bap! Yes, this is what Jamaicans do. Don’t judge us lol). Stevonie lives in New York, has a great job, good friends, one of whom she is starting a business with, a not so great love life and a mother who you could call over bearing, but I call a typical Caribbean mother. Stevonie’s father passed away and she finds out from an old friend of his (who her mother nuh like) that he has left her his villa back in Jamaica. Stevonie fondly remembers this villas as the place where she visited her father in the summer, helped with the runnings and even found summer love. The villa represents many things to her, a place of memories of her father, her connection to Jamaica and an opportunity to take her life in a direction she didn’t quite have planned. The story follows Stevonie as she goes back and forth, literally from country to country and back and forth in her mind as she tries to decide what it is she really wants. Does she do the “right thing” aka what is expected of her or, does she take a chance to rekindle her connection with her father’s legacy and Jamaica.
I already knew I was going to like this story the minute Stevonie’s mother, Ms. Prudence Bailey-Campbell made her appearance in her church attire and White Diamonds perfume. Yes laawd. She just let me know that this story was going to be real and authentic. As a Jamaican, I sometimes get weary when people write Jamaican characters or set their books in Jamaica because sometimes, they leave me scratching my head like, “Where the hell did this happen, which part of Ja.?” Or they just use a whole bunch of stereotypes from different Caribbean islands and call it Jamaican. Or, on the flip side, you only get the dark side or the underbelly of Jamaica. Yes, we have bad crime, we get it. Not Tracey Jackson though. Her being of Jamaican descent, you can tell she knows the culture and the country so well. Every scenario, every character, I know them. I could see my family or friends in them (my mother owns White Diamonds perfume, it was my grandmothers). This is what happens when the author truly knows what they are talking about! It was just so well done. Ratings Tracey.
For me, it wasn’t just the Jamaican side that was relatable. Stevonie and her friends could easily be me and my friends. One of my best friends lives and works in New York and has had some of the same experiences Stevonie has. As a millennial and being of Caribbean descent, we’ve all had or are having the same struggles be it with our love lives, the pressure from our parents to be successful in the same types of jobs (lawyer, doctor, accountant etc.) so they can brag about us to their friends and neighbors. As Tracey quite rightly puts it, “To Caribbean mothers, we will never be grown. We’re only grown when they brag to their friends about us”. You don’t want to be that topic of conversation when one family member is at someone’s gate discussing your failures and whose fault it is. “You hear ‘bout Sonia daughter? Bwoy, dem nowadays pickney!” No thanks.
All in all, I really enjoyed this story for its relatability, its little surprises, its realness and how well it showed a side of my little island and my people. Through Stevonie, we see how life can surprise us, how the “right thing” isn’t always the best thing and how really and truly, nowhere nuh betta dan yaad.
“Jamaican mothers always found ways to guilt trip their adult children into whatever they wanted. Ms. Prudence Bailey-Campbell was no different; it’s cultural, and a skill that’s gifted generation after generation”.
“Two set of foot bottom must walk this road”