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How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones - Review

Friday, August 27, 2021

 


I absolutely loved this book and heartily recommend it to you. I first heard about it because the author, Cherie Jones, did her MA in Writing at Sheffield Hallam University at the same time I did - we even started on the same day. I'm really thrilled she's got published and that the book is doing so well. I'll definitely read something else by her. The book has a brilliant structure to it and is properly like a saga.

It's set in Barbados, in a village called Baxter's Beach. There, Lala is eighteen and pregnant with her first child. She lives in a shack 25 steps above the beach with her abusive husband Adan, who robs the big houses further along the beach and sells weed. She's been warned to stay at home, but with the baby coming she needs help and has no one to fall back on but Adan. Her mother Esme is dead, and she and her grandmother Wilma fell out a couple of years ago when Lala moved in with Adan. Wilma has warned Lala many times of the one-armed sister, who did not listen to the adults around her and ended up losing one arm. Wilma says Lala is just like this sister, that she's too "own-way" about life. 

Anyway, Lala manages to struggle along to one of the big houses that look on to the beach. She rings the bell on the service gate, and is very surprised when Adan appears out of it. He goes with her to the hospital where she gives birth to Baby. They take her back to the shack, but Adan has to disappear because he's killed a man. 

In the next point of view a month later we meet Mira Whalen, wife of the man Adan has shot. Peter is dead and she's struggled to get out of bed since his death. Mira is Peter's second wife and stepmother to his children, Beth and Sam. She has had three miscarriages and seems unable to have a child of her own. She is from Barbados, but met Peter and now lives in London. She can't get in touch with the children's mother and is clearly traumatised from the murder. 

I don't want to spoil any of the rest of the story because it unfolds in dramatic, traumatic, and utterly brilliant ways. I loved it, I felt like I really had to savour each part of it. It goes back in time with each of the women's families which explained where they'd come from and how they'd come to be the people they were. I will warn for violence, death, rape, and more - take care of yourself. But this is an utterly brilliant book and I'm so glad I read it! 

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