Photo by Celia Sorhaindo/Dominica/2012
“I find she has this really cool way of bringing Antigua to life through the written word.” – reader, on facebook
Can I just say how thankful I am to everyone (critics and readers) who has taken the time to read and share their thoughts re anything I’ve written. Thankfully the feedback has been more positive than negative, but even negative reviews (into each writing life a few, and hopefully only a few, must fall) serve their purpose. Sometimes they leave you winded, sure; but then so do the reviews that feel like a virtual hug. It’s all an opportunity to grow and learn, and to feel the impact words written in solitude are having somewhere out there in the world. Here I share what readers, bloggers, and professional reviewers have had to say about my writing with links to the appropriate pages. Mostly, I hope that if anyone stumbles in here who’s never heard of Joanne C. Hillhouse or my books, he or she will find something among the thoughts of other readers that prompts them to buy my books, read and share, read and share.
LOST! A CARIBBEAN SEA ADVENTURE
(Reviews coming soon)
READ MORE REVIEWS OF LOST! A CARIBBEAN SEA ADVENTURE
“Beautiful, well thought, and meaningful…Hillhouse blends traditional elements of the fairytale with her own Caribbean sensitivity to create an unforgettable story about human frailty and the power of love.” – Mario Picayo, children’s book author, A Caribbean Journey from A to Y (Read and Discover What Happened to Z) (2016)
“With Grace explores a Caribbean space richly woven with magic, mystery, and fantasy – an engaging fable not only for young readers but any reader poised for a new reading experience that twists and turns on a suggestion of allegory.” – Alscess Lewis Brown – editor, the Caribbean Writer
“Musical Youth is a beautifully crafted novel with the leitmotiv of music running throughout it. This is a powerful and credible story of young love between two likeable heroes. The characters’ gradual exploration and growing knowledge of each other is reminiscent of the way a novice would learn how to play a new musical instrument and slowly get better at it with practice.” – judges, Burt Award for teen/YA Caribbean literature (2014)
“Although the novel is set on the Caribbean island of Antigua, the themes of alienation, colour consciousness, loneliness and communication transcend Caribbean culture and appeal to any teenager who deals with the challenges of being between childhood and adulthood. It is a sensual novel that is age-appropriate…Hillhouse captures the angst of teenage love without being sappy or condescending. The novel features an unspoken message about the importance of being exposed to all types of music. Music is like reading: the more you know of different genres, the more you experience about life. …Musical Youth is a compelling read because Hillhouse has managed to make readers really care about the characters and their struggles. It is a deserving, prize-winning book that now comfortably claims its place in Caribbean Young Adult literature.” – Debbie Jacob. Read the full review in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Online.
“Hillhouse’s authorial voice is lyrical and descriptive. The interactions of this extended and blended family, along with their respective communities in Antigua and the United States provide a range of interesting perspectives that are expressed in characteristic dialogue of their regions. The universe of this novel is not only populated with intergenerational and multi-cultural characters but also with connections to ancestors and newborns. Compellingly, the complexity and depth of Oh Gad! is well disguised as easy beach reading with the usual soap opera formula of romance, political intrigue, family feuds, and the like. In this way, Hillhouse masterfully transports us back and forth from our modernity into the mythic yet real seat of Antiguan culture. What we find there is fascinating.” – Leah Creque-Harris in Caribbean Vistas (2014)
“Joanne Hillhouse deserves to be better known…I believe that as the word spreads, she will be widely recognized as an important Caribbean writer doing distinctive work…in Oh Gad! (she) makes vivid a wide range of Antiguan residents: rich, poor, black, white, brown, educated, old, young; characters who feel compelled to emigrate, some who are committed to the place, and some who returned, uncertainly. The novel is largely about negotiations of identity; and it raises, inter alia, issues of family, class, history, ecology and politics…There are skilful descriptions of people, place events, traditions, and nicely managed dialogue that captures personality and mood.” – Mervyn Morris, poet and professor emeritus at the University of the West Indies; former Jamaican Poet Laureate (2012)
THE BOY FROM WILLOW BEND
“For its thoughtful rendering of complex issues such as gender, class, migration and death, for the swiftness of Hillhouse’s prose, and especially for the captivating personality with which she endows the title character, readers will be instantly drawn to this narrative.” – Natasha Lightfoot, the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books
“I found the story of the boy in the novel, The Boy from Willow Bend, by Joanne Hillhouse, to be a universal one. The story, set in Antigua, is about an adolescent child who blooms despite impossible situations and conditions. The road to adulthood is filled with joy and pain. It is a story that plays out in every culture.”- Althea Romeo-Mark (author of If Only the Dust Would Settle)
DANCING NUDE IN THE MOONLIGHT
“Dancing Nude in the Moonlight is lyrical, sensual and gentle…(it) provide(s) a valuable glimpse of the Caribbean female.” – The Caribbean Writer
“What makes the book a true pleasure is its political edge. Hillhouse arms the characters with larger social conflicts that far outshine the romance…Michael and Selena struggle for romantic survival and for self-definition, despite their histories as discarded children surrounded by bitterness. Every character has some kind of betrayal echoing in their lives. Though no one is innocent, Hillhouse skilfully wraps the reader intimately into the fallout of each character’s experience.” – Fiona Raye Clark, Broken Pencil, Canada
GENERAL AUTHOR REVIEWS & REVIEWS OF SHORTER WORKS
“I am energized as I write this recommendation on behalf of one of my distinguished former students. I am delighted that Ms. Hillhouse has so compellingly demonstrated that living and writing in the Caribbean impose no limitations of sensibility. All writers are ‘local’ and it is out of this very locatedness that they create distinctive fictions.” – Carolyn Cooper, Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies, University of the West Indies (2012)
“I’ve been trying to learn more about Antiguan life for something I’ve written and I haven’t found anything that feels as emotionally genuine as this.” – reader review of After Glow when it was published to Tongues of the Ocean, now available in So the Nailhead Bend So the Story End and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight: 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings
REVIEWS OF WORK AS EDITOR, WRITING COACH, WORKSHOP FACILITATOR ETC.
” I can honestly say that my writing has improved from this experience and because of it I’m sure I will get better. Highlight of my summer.” – participant in the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project
“Joanne’s coaching has been practical, resourceful and supportive. The feedback she gives is amazing in the way that she makes strong suggestions while allowing me to maintain my voice. As a writing newbie, working with Joanne has been a great boost to my confidence and she challenges me to explore styles and perspective that I would never have tackled on my own. She is also very flexible with my schedule to keep me on track.” – coaching client
Looking for interviews and other coverage, go here.