Sleep On, Beloved

Cecil Foster, Author One World $21.95 (325p) ISBN 978-0-345-39015-8
The author of the well-received No Man in the House offers a poignant portrayal of a Jamaican woman's struggle to build a new life in Canada. Ona Nedd emigrates to Toronto during the 1970s to escape her mother's ceaseless surveillance and to avoid inheriting her role as a church leader. She departs Jamaica without her baby daughter, planning to send for the child with the money she earns as a caregiver. In Canada, as in Jamaica, men abuse Ona's trusting nature, while a coldhearted bureaucracy and scarce resources increase her vulnerability. When Suzanne, now an adolescent, at last joins her mother up north, the bond between the two, based on name and blood rather than experience, is tested to the limit. Foster's characters impress with their lifelike assortment of strengths and failings. Even so, they're sometimes overwhelmed by the novel's many complex themes. The author's apparent desire to include every unhappy nuance of ``the immigrant experience'' leads to a contrived plot. Still, he shows how daily small defeats can erode the firmest of objectives, and he leaves us questioning traditions that encourage immigrants to abandon their own culture in order to achieve material success in another. 25,000 first printing. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-517-17298-8
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