the next good book

If I Survive You

By Jonathan Escoffery


256 pages

What’s it about?

This series of interrelated stories explores the experience of a family arriving from Jamaica to Miami in the 1970’s. Most of the stories center around the youngest son Trelawny, who does what he can to survive and thrive.  As the family lives through Hurricane Andrew, and then the 2008 recession, we see how those living on the margins are hit hard by any extra or unseen problems.

What did it make me think about?

Can’t these people catch a break?

Should I read it?

Jonathan Escoffery is a very talented new voice in fiction.  This story aptly describes how difficult it is for so many people to move out of their circumstances.  It also reiterates how incredibly obsessed America is over racial identity.  The character of Trelawny will both frustrate you and impress you. For me this book was more impactful than beloved. The character’s lives had so little hope- but I suppose that is the point….


“Just weeks before I came home from college last year, my mother said to hell with Miami, with this whole damn country- the rat race, all of it- let the bank foreclose on her house, and dipped back to Jamaica.  She says she can finally breathe now.  She feels freed by the privilege of relative racelessness.  In 2009, Kingston’s murder rate reached the highest per on record, and may mom returned there so she could finally feel safe.”

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