Wednesday, January 31, 2018

#BookReview: MOUTHS DON'T SPEAK by Katia D. Ulysse

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Synopsis: No one was prepared for the massive earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, taking over a quarter-million lives, and leaving millions of others homeless. Three thousand miles away, Jacqueline Florestant mourns the presumed death of her parents, while her husband, a former US Marine and combat veteran, cares for their three-year-old daughter as he fights his own battles with acute PTSD.

Horrified and guilt-ridden, Jacqueline returns to Haiti in search of the proverbial "closure." Unfortunately, the Haiti she left as a child twenty-five years earlier has disappeared. Her quest turns into a tornado of deception, desperation, and more death. So Jacqueline holds tightly to her daughter--the only one who must not die.

Review: It's difficult to read Katia D. Ulysse's Mouths Don't Speak without drawing comparisons to two recent works of fiction set in Haiti: Roxane Gay's An Untamed State and Dimitry Elias L├ęger's God Loves Haiti. Mouths Don't Speak feels a bit like a combination of both and it works well. But where An Untamed State shocked readers with its brutality and God Loves Haiti gave readers a firsthand view of the immediate aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Mouths Don't Speak doesn't have the same brutality and the results of the earthquake are seen from a distance.

When the book opens, Jacqueline is safe at home in Baltimore frantically trying to get through to her parents back in Haiti. For weeks she hungers for news, watching TV day and night as she continually tries to reach home. During this time we find Haiti was never really home for Jacqueline, having been shipped off to boarding school in her early years. And the parents she's desperate to hear from are more of a thorn in her side than a rose in bloom.

As Jacqueline sinks deeper into despair, her husband Kevin becomes a more central figure. He keeps the household running, becomes the caretaker for their three-year-old daughter, Amber. So at first, you think Kevin has it all together, but he's battling his own demons, a result of his own time in Haiti.

Ulysse introduces a lot of interesting characters and story lines that could have fallen flat with other authors, but the writing and the characters feel personal to her. She knows what will shock her audience and how to ease them into difficult scenes and situations. There are no minor characters within her pages because each and every person and line they speak plays a role. I can't wait to see what she does next.

224 p.
Published: January 2018
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher; opinions are my own.

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