"Certainly we all think of Haiti in particular terms, here in the U.S. We don’t have the “history” with the island nation that France does, for instance. I’m sure many of us think immediately of dictatorships (Baby Doc Duvalier), unrest, UN interventions, and finally, The Earthquake. And because we live in a first world nation, where we readily ignore the starving and impoverished already living side by side with us, it’s all too easy to forget the woes of third world nations. Because we want to.
"That said, we can look to Haiti as a land with a particular ethos, even if that sensibility gets clouded from time to time. “Libète, Egalité, Fraternité” Moreover, it is the phrase, “because we are,” that is at the heart of this novel. Oswald does his level best to remind us, far more gently than might be warranted, that it is we who have muddied the waters. Rather than read this deep and engaging work with a sense of nagging guilt, however, one ought to read with a feeling of awe. I know that this is a complete work of fiction – but it might as well be documentary. There are probably far too many stories bearing resemblance to those of the characters Libète, Jak, Davidson, Aunt Estelle, Lolo, and Elize. There is grinding poverty. There are people who die of AIDS all the time. There are good people, those who struggle with good or bad choices, and then those who do bad things for thousands of reasons. There are girls (and probably boys) who have disappeared by the hundreds, and only their families know their names. Reading this novel may not give those lost souls their lives back – but it may help the living.
Oswald has managed to put some magic into the telling of an otherwise (extremely) grim tale. Perhaps it’s the result of how he deftly breaks the bad news up into bite-sized pieces, delivering us our poison incrementally. It’s also due to how well he tells his story of a young girl who refuses to accept her fate at face value."
Click here to read the rest of the review on Gray Skies.