“The Other Side of Paradise” by Staceyann Chin

A few days ago, I finished reading “The Other Side of Paradise” by¬†Staceyann Chin – the poet and political activist that I previously introduced in this post.

The book is a memoir of Staceyann’s early life. She grew up in 1970’s Jamaica, abandoned by her parents and then later abused by multiple people. On top of that, her journey into adulthood was hard because, as a lesbian, she also had to struggle with her sexuality and its acceptance in a Jamaican culture. The book ends when Staceyann decides to move to New York – a place where she thought being gay would be easier. Interestingly, she mentions in an interview that being black in America is almost as problematic as being a lesbian in Jamaica.

My thoughts

I truly enjoyed reading the book. Even-though the subject was heavy, the book wasn’t. To me, Staceyann writes with humor and her style is light. It was hard and sometimes heartbreaking to imagine that this was her actual life. It’s therefore comforting to know that she is happy now with her daughter Zuri.

Earlier this year, I read a beautiful book called The Color Purple. The two books are very different but, the protagonists felt similar in a way. They are both brave, strong and a little naive.


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