Summer Reading: Two Caribbean Young Adult Novels from Blue Banyan Books


At this time of year, we are all supposed to be going through “Summer Reading Lists” (fellow blogger Susan Goffe knows all about these!) and I’m going to step up my reading, too I think. In the past I have really enjoyed reading and reviewing Young Adult titles (although I am rather an Old Adult, myself). Jamaican publisher extraordinaire Tanya Batson Savage just sent me some information on two new books under her imprint, which I thought I would share with you. I am planning to read, review (and hopefully maybe interview the authors). Meanwhile, here is a taster for you now from Blouse and Skirt/Blue Banyan Books… Get your teens reading this summer with these enticing, award-winning titles!

The summer has heated up and so too has Caribbean young adult literature. Jamaican imprint Blouse and Skirt Books recently released two exciting new novels for teens: Dreams Beyond the Shore and Girlcott. These exciting new reads, winners of the 2016 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, will make summer reading more fun.

Dreams Beyond the Shore is the winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature 2016.

Dreams Beyond the Shore by Tamika Gibson is an energetic debut that gives a striking glimpse into Caribbean politics, while never being weighed down by it. Dreams Beyond the Shore brings a refreshing take on destiny versus desire, with a healthy serving of romance. Seventeen-year-old Chelsea Marchand, is pulled from complacency when forced to confront her father’s duplicity at the height of his rise to power. In the shadow cast by her father’s lies, Chelsea grapples with the kind of woman she wants to become, and whether she is willing to sacrifice her budding romance with Kyrion to suit her father.

Dreams Beyond the Shore won 1st prize in the Burt Award for Caribbean Literatures and is one of the best novels on the rising tide of new writing emerging from the Caribbean. Set in contemporary Trinidad and Tobago, this heartwarming story explores love, family, and growing up. It’s flavoured by a timeless romance between two young people trying to decide who they must become and whether their genes or their decisions will determine their future.

Girlcott by Florenz Webbe Maxwell takes a look at the darker side of paradise. The historical novel tells a riveting fictionalized account of the end of racial segregation in Bermuda from the perspective of Desma Johnson. With just a week to go before her all-important “sweet sixteen,” a Theatre Boycott is announced, throwing Desma’s plans into disarray while unleashing racial tensions and threatening to throw Desma’s entire future off course. Forced to confront the true nature of her island, and the contempt that lay behind the previously polite smiles, Desma learns that she has the right to dream big and when others threaten that right, fighting for it may involve great sacrifice.

Girlcott tackles race issues in Bermuda.

Girlcott is pitch-perfect for the contemporary experience. This novel of resistance and triumph is a stirring example of the ability to create change through non-violent protest. It is a celebration of girl-power that comes at a time when female-led acts of resistance are fertile. The novel earned 2nd prize in the 2016 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature.

Blouse & Skirt Books is an imprint of Blue Banyan Books, the English-speaking Caribbean’s fastest growing publisher of books for children, adults, and young adults.

PS. Do you know about Blue Banyan’s anthology of Jamaican poetry, In This Breadfruit Kingdom, which was launched recently – a collaboration with the National Library of Jamaica? It is edited by former Poet Laureate Professor Mervyn Morris…and on sale at my favourite local bookstore, Bookophilia!

Florenz Webbe Maxwell autographs a copy of her young adult novel “Girlcott” in Bermuda. (Photo: Blue Banyan Books Facebook)

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