by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger
Beverley-Ann Scott’s second novel bears the familiar markers of one of the Caribbean’s most severe, and self-perpetuating, cautionary tales: that of parents seeking opportunities for improved circumstances in foreign lands, leaving their children behind to uncertain fates. The protagonist of Is America She Gone?, Sandra, is one such aspiring mother. Devoid of financial or emotional support from the father of her two children, she decides to leave for Brooklyn, confident that in that seemingly-miraculous terrain of golden promise, she will be able to amply provide for little Andrea and Antonio. Sandra purposes, with heart-wrenching hope, to return to Trinidad soon, yet within a short space of time, her illusions about America as the land of plenty are swiftly shattered. When, she wonders with no small amount of despair, will she be able to hold her children again?
Forced to navigate an existence without the guiding hands of either father or mother, Andrea and Antonio’s fates are steered by their own dubious personal choices. As they progressively lose confidence in the prospect of Sandra’s swift return, they reach out to different sources of solace and diversion to ease the ache. Will Sandra’s children find the comfort and guidance they so urgently seek, or will they, as so many other reluctantly jettisoned relatives of immigrants before them, be forced to make their own way alone, for better or worse?
Delivered in simple yet piercingly effective prose, Is America She Gone? features a cast of characters we recognize all too well. They are people we know, in their thwarted ambitions, their desperate desires to make amends, and the fullness of their longings for a better world.