A pure story of family and secrets told through this beautifully written novel by Ingrid Persaud. Her debut novel Love After Love opens with a dramatic, abrupt introduction to Betty and her son Solo, and horridly violent husband Sunil. But need I say he soon becomes her husband no more on Solo’s birthday – the things mothers do for their children…
But sure enough, you understand why these things have happened.
Fast forward a few years later, it follows Miss Betty, and her lodger Mr Chetan who becomes like a father figure to Solo. It is a poignant novel drawing upon identity, secrets, race, domestic abuse, homophobia and betrayal, as well as the importance of love and family.
Initially set in Trinidad, we learn about Mr Chetan and Betty’s friendship – but could it be something more?
It turns out they soon learn a lot about each other, as things in the bedroom prove difficult – he tells her he is gay.
Now, in Trinidad, this is seen as a legal challenge and frowned upon by communities, which he must keep quiet about for his own safety.
With Betty trying to find a way to take care of her son and fulfil her own romantic desires, she breaks down to Mr Chetan and reveals everything about that night with Sunil many years ago… only for Solo to overhear.
Fast forward a few years later, Solo has flown over to America to make a better life for himself, but to get away from his mother. Living with his father’s family, we get an insight into Solo’s experience being an immigrant trying to make ends meet, all the while dealing with his own internal battles and refusing to answer his mother’s calls, instead texting Mr Chetan.
It appears Solo’s internal battle comes from difficulties with Betty and not being able to control it which has a detrimental impact on his mental health, especially as he tries to find ways to stay in America as his visa runs out. He loses a lot of money, and defers to self-harm and thoughts on suicide to deal with the pain and difficulties, details which I will not go into further here. They did however make my eyes a little wet at how honest and delicately Persaud writes about his troubles.
This poignant novel continues with the hope of whether Solo will return to Trinidad or reconnect with Betty at all.
Despite hardship in family, love always wins.
Full of rage, they are brought together, but only due to a sudden character death – where did that come from?! But I guess it is a depiction of what it is like to lose someone unexpectedly.
I was full of hope and despair throughout Persaud’s novel. Even though there is a lot going on, I found it easy to follow as she clears up loose ends quickly.
The way I felt after reading this reminded me of Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half, which I adored.
Love tore them apart. And then love brings them together.
Rating – 4.5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨
Genre – fiction, domestic fiction
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