Antigua and Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed XIII

This picks up where the previous installments of Antigua and Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed pages left off (use the search feature to the right to dig them up). As with those earlier pages, it features reviews about A & B writings that I come across as I dig through my archives or surf the web. You’re welcome to send any credible/professional reviews that you come across as well. They’re not in any particular order, I just add them as I add them; some will be old, some will be new. It’s all shared in an effort to underscore, emphasize, and insist on Antigua and Barbuda’s presence in the Caribbean literary canon.

“Joanne C. Hillhouse has written an expansive page-turner that is a lush, tropical delight with its twists and turns and insider look at island politics. …Through the nuanced use of dialect and Caribbean proverbs we are given a window into how the characters navigate a number of weighty topics, including family construct, mental health, and class structure. Hillhouse has a uniquely elegant way of helping us track several subjects without making us feel hit over the head with any particular writing device. Oh Gad! is a superb example of how one shouldn’t judge a book by its actual cover , or title. It is a well-written gem that depicts finely-drawn complex characters. The book does a stellar job of revealing gender dynamics and the roots of female-headed households in the Caribbean. It is a character-driven novel that is Nikki’s story, yet strengthened by the introduction of fascinating secondary characters, who are as believable and riveting as the protagonist at the heart of it.” – Tua Nefer review on ACalabash of Oh Gad! by Joanne C. Hillhouse

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‘”Amelia at Devil’s Bridge” by Joanne C. Hillhouse (Antigua & Barbuda): The spirit of a dead girl screams in desperation in a story that will make you shiver.’ – The Opinionated Reader on Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean

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“The masterful use of sensory details and cultural references throughout Joanne C. Hillhouse’s picture book The Jungle Outside, as well as the colorful illustrations by Danielle Boodoo Fortuné, transports readers and listeners to the Caribbean Island of Antigua. Hillhouse’s loving depiction of inter-generational bonds, her layering of life lessons, and the vibrant characters makes this story one that will be read over and over again.” – ACALABASH, May 19 2022

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Discussion of HaMaFilms’ The Sweetest Mango on the Karukerament podcast. “Cinema and television entertain this superficial vision of the Caribbean man…but with Richard in The Sweetest Mango it’s the other way around. …in most romantic comedies you don’t even know why the lead woman likes the lead man…so when you look at things closely, The Sweetest Mango was really in the Black pop culture trend because it was a romantic comedy, but it was also avante garde because it showed a healthy relationship between two Black characters.” – February 2021

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“But I also really love Joanne Hillhouse’s YA novel Musical Youth which focuses on the experience of children learning about colourism and how colourism is manifested in their communities. And one of the things that we all loved talking about in the book club was how this author chose to show male friendship and it was just wonderful. It was a wonderful read because of so many things….I think I would probably push you more toward Joanne Hillhouse’s Musical Youth because this is not such a well known author and maybe she could stand to use a little bit more recognition.” – Booktuber RunWrightReads of RunWrightReads book club on Musical Youth by Joanne C. Hillhouse – December 2021

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“Caribbean YA just slaps differently, and this book is great reminder of this.

Why did I wait so long to read this beautiful book?!!! In Musical Youth we meet Zahara, she is a bit of a loner, lives with the grandmother because her mother died and she doesn’t have a clue who her father is. She just know he left a guitar for her and she’s been attached to it ever since. Zahara’s first love is music. She spends significant time learning how to play her guitar. That’s until she meets Shaka, a lover of music like herself. She pulled her out of her shell but there are consequences….

The author really knew what she was doing writing this book. It felt real and truly such a great look into the lives of young adults living in Antigua. I did not want the book to end. Zahara is such a likeable character, so too is Shaka and their love story is too cute.

Seriously, this is the YA you are looking for, thank me later.” – Book of Cinz, founder of the #readCaribbean social media meme campaign on goodreads’ and the Book of Cinz book club, review of Musical Youth in 2021

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