They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but we all do. Don’t you? Well I do, more often than not. And I don’t get to walk into book stores much any more, but I love book shops and I can remember spending so much time in Water stones, (our first Christmas in England 2007), so engrossed in all those books on display -judging covers – that we (me and my daughter) missed the coach to London!! Our first coach trip, on our own, to London! We had to wait another two hours for the next one!! Anyway, this is to say that I just love looking at the covers and trying to tell how interesting a read they would be. I think I bought The Pirate’s Daughter, by Margaret Cezair-Thompson. And I thoroughly enjoyed that read! So yes, I judge books by their cover a lot. I will advise against judging books by their movies though!
And in my opinion, just as books should be judged by the cover, so should the contents be judged on its own merit.
Force Ripe is no “To kill a mocking bird or Angela’s Ashes nor is it Jayne Eyre. And I don’t claim to be no Harper Lee, Toni Morrison or one of the Bronte sisters.
Force Ripe is not a piece to show off no intellectual writing or intelligence. It is not a thriller with John Grisham plots, twists and turns, nor is it a fairy tale with a “happily ever after” ending. Force Ripe is what it is – the story of a little girl, of her experiences, during an important historical era. It portrays, among many themes, the way it used to be, growing up during the days when “doors were never locked and the road was my playground.” It takes the readers into Lee’s life, in her village, and with the use of sensory images, paints very vivid and memorable scenes of: her Mammy’s biasness towards her brother, as we see in this excerpt from chapter one.
“Eh eh! What taking you so, Peeya!”
Mammy spit out Peeya so hard, some of she food pitch out from she mouth with it. I don’t even know what Peeya mean. I used to wonder if is somebody who does pee in bed. But I does not pee in me bed. Mammy never call Rally names like that. She does call him Beta. And when she say come Beta, it does come out soft and nice – like sweet potato pudding. But she does spit out Peeya, just like she does spit out coconut husk from she mouth – after she suck out all the milk from it. She does spit it out just like she does spit out nuts, after she suck out all the sugar from the sugar-cakes.
It shows Lee’s bond with her father, even though his visits were brief and sporadic. It takes the reader into the Rastafarian commune and, for example, demonstrates the many uses of the coconut tree and its product. ‘Once I hear Daddy say, “You see this coconut? Jah make it specially for Rastaman”. It also shows us a child’s experience of the revolution and how Rastafarians were treated, and offers a very palpable taste of Lee’s emotions, her fears and shows us how she copes.
Force Ripe is a voice. The voice of this little girl, Lee. Her voice through her experiences, from her perspective. It is what it is. Her story. It does not try to explain, demoralize, take sides nor cast any blame. And it certainly does not call for any actions. It has gone through all its phases of trying to conform, fit in with what you learn you should and should not do, how you should and should not write, especially as a new and inexperienced writer. And it is certainly not forced ripe, because it has matured and is now confident to use and own that voice.