These Ghosts Are Family: Book summary and reviews of These Ghosts Are Family by Maisy Card

These Ghosts Are Family

by Maisy Card

These Ghosts Are Family by Maisy Card X
These Ghosts Are Family by Maisy Card
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Book Summary

One of Electric Literature's most Anticipated Debuts of 2020. A transporting debut novel that reveals the ways in which a Jamaican family forms and fractures over generations, in the tradition of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

Stanford Solomon has a shocking, thirty-year-old secret. And it's about to change the lives of everyone around him. Stanford Solomon is actually Abel Paisley, a man who faked his own death and stole the identity of his best friend.

And now, nearing the end of his life, Stanford is about to meet his firstborn daughter, Irene Paisley, a home health aide who has unwittingly shown up for her first day of work to tend to the father she thought was dead.

These Ghosts Are Family revolves around the consequences of Abel's decision and tells the story of the Paisley family from colonial Jamaica to present day Harlem. There is Vera, whose widowhood forced her into the role of single mother. There are two daughters and a granddaughter who have never known they are related. And there are others, like the house boy who loved Vera, whose lives might have taken different courses if not for Abel Paisley's actions.

These Ghosts Are Family explores the ways each character wrestles with their ghosts and struggles to forge independent identities outside of the family and their trauma. The result is an engrossing portrait of a family and individuals caught in the sweep of history, slavery, migration, and the more personal dramas of infidelity, lost love, and regret. This electric and luminous family saga announces the arrival of a new American talent.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Through a fluid blend of patois and erudite descriptions of Jamaica, Card offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of a troubled but resilient family whose struggles are inscribed by the island they once called home. This masterful chronicle haunts like the work of Marlon James and hits just as hard." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[Card is a] gifted storyteller with an eye for detail and compassion for all her flawed characters...We all hunger for something, she tells us: love, acceptance, freedom, an understanding of the past to know who we are, because our lives are never just our own. An intriguing debut with an inventive spin on the generational family saga." - Kirkus Reviews

"Set in both Jamaica and New York, this debut novel effectively reveals contrasting cultures and customs. Though the Jamaican patois requires close attention, readers of general fiction will enjoy unraveling the threads of this complex tale." - Library Journal

"[A] stunning, kaleidoscopic debut...Card invites readers to imagine themselves as a series of characters, one by one, in the moments before [a] revelation upends their identities, and such inventive narrative techniques continue throughout the novel...A fantastic debut." - Booklist

"I suspect many readers will talk about the consequences of unspoken generational trauma in These Ghosts Are Family, but I'm most amazed by the deft use of characterization, place and embodiment here. This book is a master class in writing home as a collection of odd spirits and a mobile metaphor." - Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division

"In this fascinating debut, Maisy Card reveals her spectacular range and scope. Part immigrant narrative, part ghost story, part historical fiction, part family drama, These Ghosts Are Family explores and illuminates the complexities of race and lineage in Jamaica and the United States. This is a bold, gripping, compassionate book." - Helen Phillips, author of The Need

This information about These Ghosts Are Family was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Maisy Card

Maisy Card holds an MFA in Fiction from Brooklyn College and is a public librarian. Her writing has appeared in Lenny Letter, School Library Journal, Agni, Sycamore Review, Liars' League NYC, and Ampersand Review. Maisy was born in St. Catherine, Jamaica, but was raised in Queens, New York. Maisy earned an MLIS from Rutgers University and a BA in English and American Studies from Wesleyan University. She is the author of These Ghosts Are Family.

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