Saturday, 18 May 2019

Twelve Unending Summers by Cholet Kelly Josué


Twelve Unending Summers by Cholet Kelly Josué
Published in America by Authority Publishing on the 22nd May 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Bahamian. Haitian. American. Where can I fully belong?

At age sixteen, Cholet Josué arrived on the shores of Miami in a wooden boat—and immediately put the past behind him. More than two decades later, the elusive question of identity pursues him, forcing him to confront a difficult truth: the cultures that formed him have each indelibly stamped his soul. Courageously, Cholet dismantles his own story to uncover a way to unashamedly, unabashedly fit in with three different worlds while belonging to none.

Honest and compelling, Twelve Unending Summers is a deeply personal journey that resonates with the universal human need to find a home and embrace the legacy of family heritage.

The message that shines through Josue's memoir is the importance of education for young people and how, in giving this hope for the future, they can establish themselves of a firm grounding wherever they may be. Josue was born a British citizen in the Bahamas, but travelled with his Haitian parents back to Haiti at four years old. Another country, another language. Then at sixteen, and not of his own volition, he endured a rickety boat journey to Florida where, initially as an illegal immigrant, he had to find a way not only to survive but to blossom. Another country, another language. That Josue had the strength of character to persevere against many setbacks is inspiring. His search for his own cultural identity raises interesting questions especially for me having just read Bloom Where You Are Planted (a memoir in which transient expat Lasairiona McMaster assures readers that raising her son in various cultures will enable him to fit in everywhere.) Josue's life experience is of never feeling as though he totally fitted in anywhere.

Josue recounts a few episodes from his childhood in the Bahamas and mostly from Haiti. He also talks extensively about his fight to become a legal American citizen and the struggle to raise the ridiculously high sums needed for his education. Now fully qualified and practicing as a doctor, it is obvious the struggle was worthwhile. I was dismayed at how easily his skill and talent could have been lost though. To deny someone education purely on the grounds of their wealth (or lack of!) strikes me as ludicrous and the situation is just as bad here in the UK.

Josue has a engaging style and I enjoyed reading this memoir, especially where I was able to encounter cultures that are very different to my own. His explanations of the importance of superstition to Haitians were interesting as was learning this island nation's history. I would have actually liked Twelve Unending Summers to have been a longer book. I felt there was a lot more to say on the question of identity for example and some other episodes felt rushed. That said, I am very pleased to have had this opportunity to 'meet' Josue and to read about his life.


Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Cholet Kelly Josue / Biography and memoir / Books from Haiti

8 comments:

  1. a great memoir about life of Cholet Josué

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    1. Yes, I love that I can get to learn about lives such as Josue's through books

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  2. The blurb is amazing, I'm interested.

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  3. Wow, what a life story and experience to have had. I really like the theme of identity in the books that I read, and as someone who comes from different places, it really always is something that resounds with me. I feel like I would wish that it was longer too!

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    1. I felt Josue could have gone into greater depth on the question of cultural identity

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  4. Replies
    1. It is! One of several good autobiographies I've enjoyed reading this year :-)

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