I’m delighted to be sharing my review this book as part of Penguin Random House’s Blog Tour for it’s Aussie release!
I adored The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, so I was super excited to hear that Deborah Rodriguez was releasing another book this year and giving me another excuse to pick up one of her colourful books!
Island on the Edge of the World follows Bea & Charlie over to Haiti in search of Charlie’s mother. Along the way, they meet Lizbeth (a widow looking for the last link to her recently-passed son), and Senzey, a lost Haitian woman. The story woven together by these four souls is hilarious and heartbreaking, and I enjoyed learning a bit more about the island nation through Rodriguez’s storytelling.
I loved the eclectic group of characters in this novel, and adored Bea and Charlie right from the start. Charlie comes across as a bit rough to start but it’s not long until you uncover her heart of gold, especially when it comes to Bea – her grandmother who dabbles in the world of psychics. Bea was hands down my favourite character of the book, and gave me so many chuckles as I read with her eccentric outlook and cheeky ways of dealing with people. Not only did I love the 4 main characters, but I loved the side characters and appreciated Rodriguez’s description of Haitian women as a whole:
…the way the Haitians walked. Especially the women. Even the youngest girls exuded a surety and pride in their straight-backed posture and long, even strides, as if sending a message to the world, loud and clear, that they were a force you couldn’t mess with.
Despite the lightness woven through the book, Rodriguez also takes a look at the issue of NGOs in places like Haiti, who come in and do what they think the country needs to have done, instead of learning about the culture and contributing the economy in ways that allows the citizens to stay empowered and continue growing their country and culture. It’s an interesting take which I haven’t seen tackled in quite the same way from a fiction writer, and I respect Rodriguez for bringing it to the fore in this novel while still entertaining the reader with wonderful characters and writing.
I have to admit that I didn’t find quite as much joy in this read as I did from The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, but I definitely still enjoyed the romp through Haiti and learning more about the struggles (and wonders) of a new culture – from vodou to NGO corruption, colourful marketplaces to darkened alleys, there really is a lot to take in and Rodriguez’s writing guides yo through a whole lotta emotions while you read!
Read if: You’re looking for a fast and light read – the perfect summer pick!
Page Length: 296
Publisher: Bantam (imprint of Penguin Random House)
(P.S @nicbookpanda is running a giveaway for this book on her Instagram account – but get in quick, it end’s at midnight tonight!)
Have you read any of Deborah Rodriguez’s books? Is this one on your radar? Let me know in the comments below!
Thank you to the Penguin Random House team for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.