Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma – I’ll admit this started slow for me much of the early chapters feeling like the pre-story rather than the story itself (like the start wasn’t necessarily the beginning). Much like the last chapter feels like the after chapter, the wind down (but more satisfying than the beginning as it brings some emotional resolution for the main character). In the middle though, there’s enough action and tension to keep you engaged, enough layers and perspectives to keep you emotionally off kilter. Of these perspectives, the most compelling are Marcia’s and her second daughter Jacqueline’s; their experiences, especially Marcia’s, root the story.
The story in a nutshell is of how a girl comes in to womanhood after suffering a great series of traumatic losses, becomes entwined with a man that brings her nothing but stress and children to care for, until she takes her destiny firmly in her hands and leaves Trinidad for the US, where she again has to fight for her freedom, quite literally, and carve a new life from absolutely nothing (less than nothing). She suffers more loss but is able to deliver on at least one of her promises to herself, even if it means leaving her heart/s behind.
There is a lot happening here, sometimes too much and moving in too many differing directions, it feels like (as the author tries to weave a tapestry); but through Marcia – particularly her American chapters, and Jacqueline – who you just want to squeeze in to a hug during her troubled teenage years, I do find myself emotionally engaged enough to despise Farouk (the baby-daddy and all around bad-decision) and all the ways he is not there for his family. Invested enough to root for some kind of happy ending for this mother and daughter – this daughter, her second daughter, the only one of her four children to emerge fully drawn, while Patsy is defined by the problems she causes and Wesley and the unfortunate Yvonne are barely there.
This story is, likely, many parts of the stories of Caribbean women – women broken by love and time, rejection and heartbreak, women (and men) tied by obeah and learning to let go, women hardening their heart to guard it, women who love their children fiercely but not affectionately, and Caribbean people (and other immigrants) throwing themselves into the unknown in the big USA.
Bottom line, I liked it; I didn’t love it. Once I got in to it, I was moved to finish it, and if you hang in past the limp beginning, you too might find it an overall enjoyable read and Marcia Garcia an at once complex, confounding, and compelling character.
Love the cover.