BOOK STEW REVIEW: ‘When We Were Birds’ by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo

Below is the latest Book Stew Review from Eileen MacDougall, host of the long-running Book Stew, a video and podcast devoted to writing in all forms, authors, playwrights, and even a cat who survived a tornado and wrote a book about it.

When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo

This heartfelt story of Trinidad brings together Rastaman Darwin and scion of Trini enslaved women Yejide, during the worst times of their lives.

Darwin needs as job to help care for his mother, but the only one he can find is a cemetery worker. Contact with the dead is not permitted in their religion, but in order to oprevent them from starving, he cuts off his dreads and goes to work digging graves with an unsavory crew.

Yejide, whose mother Petronella has shunned and neglected her for years, is now faced with her death and burial. They meet at the cemetery and perceive a light and salvation in each other, but benevolent and malignant forces on both sides are determined to keep them apart.

Each has massive obstacles to overcome before they can trust each other. The story is told in language sometimes clouded in spiritual mysteries, but it’s lovely and powerful in characters, setting and plot.

QUOTE: “No one would lose the key to their brain and go in Petronella room with shoes on.”

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