“If I Never Went Home” by Ingrid Persaud is the story of two women and their separate journeys to find happiness and to belong. Bea is a 30ish year old immigrant from Trinidad living in Boston, and Tina, a ten year old girl living in Trinidad. The story follows the lives of each woman over a ten year period until their worlds combine unexpectedly. With all the family skeletons falling out of the closet, Bea and Tina have a unique opportunity to create the family they have each longed for over the years. Do they have the strength it will take to see their dreams through to the end? Can their new found hope endure one last secret?
I just have to start out by saying I LOVED everything about this book. The story takes us through the life of each woman, going back and forth from Bea to Tina, past to present, dialogue to prose and it works brilliantly. Ms. Persaud is a phenomenal story teller, the writing is impeccable, and the characters profound. Have I mentioned that I loved this book?
I totally connected with each woman as they struggled to find their place in the world. Bea is an introvert and very much a loner, being the only one in her family to live in the United States. She quietly bears her mental health issues, reluctant at first to get help, and reluctant to the end to make peace with the past. Tina is a feisty, smart-aleck of a young girl who copes with life and the raw deal that was dealt her in life with sarcastic wit and cynical resignation. I was transported to Trinidad, reading with pure enjoyment as the characters spoke in their natural tongue, and marveling at the way the customs and traditions of the island are depicted. The ending was a complete surprise – the author leads you down one path and then throws in something totally incomprehensible right at the very end. I know the wheels in my mind were spinning fast trying to understand and I actually jumped and said “wow” out loud when I figured out the implication of what was being alleged.
“If I Never Went Home” was a pure pleasure to read. I hope Ms. Persaud has plans for a sequel!