The Star Side of Bird Hill (Paperback)
Penguin Books, 9780143109167, 304pp.
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
Two sisters are suddenly sent from their home in Brooklyn to Barbados to live with their grandmother, in Naomi Jackson's stunning debut novel This lyrical novel of community, betrayal, and love centers on an unforgettable matriarchal family in Barbados. Two sisters, ages ten and sixteen, are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them. The young Phaedra and her older sister, Dionne, live for the summer of 1989 with their grandmother Hyacinth, a midwife and practitioner of the local spiritual practice of obeah. Dionne spends the summer in search of love, testing her grandmother's limits, and wanting to go home. Phaedra explores Bird Hill, where her family has lived for generations, accompanies her grandmother in her role as a midwife, and investigates their mother's mysterious life. This tautly paced coming-of-age story builds to a crisis when the father they barely know comes to Bird Hill to reclaim his daughters, and both Phaedra and Dionne must choose between the Brooklyn they once knew and loved or the Barbados of their family. Naomi Jackson's Barbados and her characters are singular, especially the wise Hyacinth and the heartbreaking young Phaedra, who is coming into her own as a young woman amid the tumult of her family. Praise for The Star Side of Bird Hill "Once in a while, you'll stumble onto a book like this, one so poetic in its descriptions and so alive with lovable, frustrating, painfully real characters, that your emotional response to it becomes almost physical. . . . The dual coming-of-age story alone could melt the sternest of hearts, but Jackson's exquisite prose is a marvel too. . . . A gem of a book." --Entertainment Weekly (A)
About the Author
Naomi Jackson was born and raised in Brooklyn by West Indian parents. She studied fiction at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was awarded the Maytag Fellowship for Excellence in Fiction to complete her first novel, The Star Side of Bird Hill. Jackson traveled to South Africa on a Fulbright scholarship, where she received an MA in creative writing from the University of Cape Town. A graduate of Williams College, Jackson has had her work appear in literary journals and magazines in the United States and abroad.