A young teenage boy growing up in the ghetto of Jamaica meets an "uptown" woman whose life seems empty. She decides to try to save the boy. But is she capable of changing the life of someone she knows nothing about? Can she ever really know what he thinks or how he really lives? And does she try?
The story is told from two points of view: that of the impoverished Jamaican child of the ghetto, Dexter, and that of the "uptown" woman living a decent, but what she thinks, empty life, Sahara. Their lives collide in a parking lot and will be forever changed. Or will they? The story is not so much about fate as it is about transcendence. It's not really about can Sahara help Dexter escape from his life as much as can Dexter, by himself, evolve from it. And how does that affect Sahara?
You'll have to read the book to find out. I don't want to spoil anything. But I will say that once you pick it up, you'll keep going until you're done. It's the kind of book that makes you want to know what's going to happen to all of the people involved. You get caught in their stories and in their lives.
The best part of the book is the boy, Dexter. He is a fully realized person who shows you what it is like to be him and live in his world. He is complex and layered, and you fall in love with his innocent wisdom and his old soul. Sahara was not as like-able to me, but she was equally complex. I found myself mad at her more than once. She seemed sometimes to be so out of touch with what she was trying to accomplish, but that's because we knew what Dexter was thinking and she didn't. That was not a flaw in the book. It was a flaw in Sahara. But these are things for you to decide once you've read this book.
And you'll want to read it. It's a great read! Considering the gravity of the material, the book is still fast paced and energetic. And it's exceptionally well written; the characters show you their lives, not just tell you about them. You live inside of Dexter's world. You see it through his eyes. He took me out of my safe house and put me in a foreign land. I even had to learn his language to some extent. (Don't let the patois put you off of reading this novel. Once you get into the rythym of the voices, it's easy to hear them and understand the language. The book would have been so much less without it.)
The book is written with the authentic voice of poverty in Jamaica. You sense that the author has lived in at least one of the bodies of her main characters.
It's engaging and enlightening and heartbreaking. It's a beautiful piece of work.