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A Novel

by Nicole Dennis-Benn

Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn X
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn
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  • Published Jun 2019
    432 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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There are currently 21 member reviews
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  • Catherine O. (Altavista, VA)
    Great Characters
    It is truly a gifted writer who can immerse you in the lives of characters. The experiences of Patsy as she leaves her native Jamaica and travels to America are believable. The impact of her departure on those she leaves behind is well developed. The voice of the author carries throughout the novel in a strong and true fashion. While reading the novel I thought of the possible discussions my book club would have. The novel has many themes to discuss, central to the book is the idea of expectations. I enjoyed this novel and will be recommending it to my fellow readers for an engaging and thought provoking read.
  • Lani
    Defining oneself
    Nicole Dennis-Benn writes with such color and vividness that makes her characters and dialogue sparkle. Immersion into Patsy's world is lining the streets with patois, teenage sex and pregnancies, lesbianism, and the need to forge ahead and elevate themselves. Patsy has a job as government worker with little opportunities for advancement. Engaging in sexual activity early, she becomes pregnant with Tru, while still a child herself. Feeling boxed in, she applies to go visit her dear friend Cicely in the USA but with no intention of returning home. When she finally gets there things are not what she had hoped for and she spends her life grasping at the American dream, only to find it elusive. It becomes harder and harder to connect with her daughter whom she literally ran away from. Tru, meanwhile has grown up scarred by her mother's absence until an incident pushes her over the wall. Told with profound truth, this is a mesmerizing story about motherhood and sacrifice, finding oneself, and the plight of women who must jump hoops to preserve their legitimacy; but mostly this is a story of LOVE...keenly felt and wonderfully appreciated. Do not miss this one!
  • Cheryl P. (Lebanon, PA)
    Equally tragic as it was inspiring. In the thought of leaving a poor country like Jamaica to find love and wealth in America, Patsy was misguided and disillusioned. Her daughter that was left behind had to swallow her tears and let the fear of abandonment eat away at her until she decided her life just didn't matter. Life and love find both mother and daughter in the end.
  • Dotty7, Indiana
    Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn
    Patsy is an interesting book and extremely timely in this age where many families are fleeing their poverty and violent countries to seek asylum in the United States.
    Patsy felt she had a better chance of making money for herself and her daughter if she went to America. Another, perhaps even more influential reason she went to Brooklyn is that her childhood best friend and lover, Cicely had written to her telling her (in so many words) that she'd always love her and be there for her. Sadly, when Patsy arrives and reconnects with Cicely she discovers that her friend has married a man she doesn't love so that she could stay in the country and has had a child with this man. Patsy is terribly hurt when she realizes that Cicely didn't care enough to write to her about these events.

    Patsy had an office job back in Jamaica and assumed that she could find similar work – but unfortunately the only jobs available to undocumented women are menial labor and childcare. Patsy ends up working as a nanny and barely makes enough money to house herself; let alone any extra to send back to her daughter.
    Patsy's daughter, Tru, meanwhile is living with her father Roy his wife Marva and their children in Jamaica. Tru has very mixed feelings about being abandoned by her mother and living with her father and his family. Even though her living circumstances are financially better, she feels as if she doesn't truly belong. She tries to remain in contact with the boys from her old neighborhood that she played soccer with, even though they now go to different schools. As she grows into adolescence she begins to be uncomfortable with her sexuality and starts to bind her breasts and find herself attracted to another girl.

    The story is told from the shared and overlapping viewpoints of Patsy and Tru. I felt that the story should have included more about the sadness that each of the main characters feel regarding their estrangement. I didn't understand how/why Patsy could go so long without making contact with her child. It was unclear if Tru's father knew where Patsy was. It seemed that there where many things that weren't properly explained.
  • Leia C. (Jacksonville, FL)
    Immigrant Dreams
    I have enjoyed the story of Patsy and her young daughter Tru. The book gives another view of the reasons for immigration to the U. S. And the unrealistic expectationsof how their lives will be better in America.

    It reminded me of The Leavers by Lydia Ko, which I read about a year ago. Both books show the underground economy in all it's ugliness. They can both serve as eye openers to anyone willing to see the truth of it.

    Overall the characters are well drawn and I came to care about them. The themes of motherhood, sexuality, mental illness and racism are difficult subjects to read about at times in this book and may be uncomfortable subject matter to some readers. I would be cautious with my recommendation of the book to friends.

    I did enjoy seeing Patsy become a more mature and realistic woman working for a better life.
  • Linda M. (Lititz, PA)
    I really enjoyed this book. Her characters were very well developed and I had strong feels for each female and some male characters. I understood the feeling Patsy was feeling in every instance, missing a sister type friend, wanting to get away from a domineering mother, leaving a child she was forced to have, being lied to by a sister/friend, abuse, rejection, poverty. This book had it all. It also tells a story of immigration to the US by an illegal alien and what they go through to try and support themselves. They seem to be paid wages that are not enough to survive on but in their own country they had it the same way. The difference in the US is they want to do better but no one will tell them how. They may want to go to school to get a better job than the lowest paying ones but need to have a valid SS number to do so.
  • Melanie B. (Desoto, TX)
    Bittersweet American Dream
    This book paints a bittersweet story of what it means to be an undocumented woman of color in the USA. On the face of it, Patsy's life in America over the years doesn't seem as successful as the life she led in Jamaica. However, the dream she imagines upon arriving in New York changes with time and becomes the grind of survival in a new country. The parallel story of Patsy's left behind daughter, Tru, seems to mirror Patsy's own emotional hard times in New York. I think it's arguable whether the story has a happy ending which may be why I think this is a good book. The story ends like so much of life as a work in progress.
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