Speaking of Promises by Debbie Jacob

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger


Debbie Jacob curates a weekly Sunday Arts Section Book Club for the Trinidad Guardian, where her musings on books, authors and the fascinating world of reading are always a pleasure to explore. She tackles both local and international literature, and her perspectives on characters, themes and symbols lend themselves to a generous circumference of interpretation: much like this 2011 collection of short fiction she’s penned. Speaking of Promises was released by Archimedes Publishers, and contains fourteen stories, each of which focuses on aspects of the Trinidadian spirit in unique ways.

It’s evident from the first handful of stories that Jacob understands the complexity of human character — she serves up compelling portraits of men, women and children living on the frontlines of difficult decisions, making choices that will affect themselves, as well as those they love and disdain. These aren’t black-and-white, simplistic narratives; far from it, as the author takes time to develop the inner thought processes of would be heroes and possible schemers alike. “Graduation Day” provides a heart-wrenching platform for consideration of the troubled waters often stirring between hardworking mothers and their less than grateful daughters: the story packs a punch line sure to sting one’s eyes with tears. Not all the short stories are as agonizing: levity abounds in “Crime Watch”, wherein two amateur sleuths (with a touch too much time on their hands) see the scales of justice tip into work — just decidedly not in the way they were expecting!

Jacob, who has also authored the 2005 Macmillan Caribbean title for young readers, Legend of the St. Ann’s Flood, is a fiction writer of both perspicacious viewpoint and sensitive heart, this combination undeniably prompts a  level of storytelling that soars.