No Telephone to Heaven

Michelle Cliff, Author
Michelle Cliff, Author Dutton Books $17.95 (211p) ISBN 978-0-525-24508-7
Reviewed on: 06/26/1987
Release date: 07/01/1987
This book gives lyrical expression to some harsh truths, using a series of vivid flashbacks to highlight key moments in a young woman's lifelong quest for moral absolutes. Born into a light-skinned, landed family on the island of Jamaica, Clare Savage is compelled to inhabit a world that shifts between the demands of the black and white communities. Her adolescent years are spent in America, where her ambitious father encourages her to seize the opportunity to pass for white. Later studies at an English university further her feelings of alienation and she determines to return to Jamaica to seek her identity and her island heritage, a move which leads her to political activism and eventual tragedy. Though well-written and thoughtful, the novel focuses exclusively on Clare's difficulties, making no attempt to recall the small moments of triumph or joy that occur in even the most dismal lives. Without these, the protagonist seems a symbolic icon rather than a creature of flesh and spirit. Her journey toward selfhood seems more significant than the character herself. (July 14)
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