When I signed in on Twitter after the exams I saw everybody talking about a discussion generated on BookTube that crystallized in a “diverse-a-thon”, meaning a week for reading “diverse” books and learn intentionally about other cultures, religions, races, sexual orientations, etc., through your reads. I didn’t have to look so far, for I had already a book from the library set in Guyana that fitted perfectly for the purpose of the event.

buxton-spice-oonya-kempadooBuxton Spice is a coming-of-age story narrated by a pre-teen girl in a fictional village of this Caribbean country, surrounded by an atmosphere of political change and ethnical disturbances that makes the discovery of her new sexual nature even more disturbing.

I think that the main goal of the book is to describe how girls’ sexuality is developed within this community, with Lula and her friends as guides. At the beginning of the narration the girls’ approach towards sex is an amusing one; it’s something they witness on a daily basis so, even though they don’t understand it completely, they joke and play games about it. However, Lula’s encounter with one of the village’s boys, make her actually feel it, and that changes her.

The discovery of sexuality is the theme of the book, and I have to say that sometimes it is overwhelmingly so; it’s an environment in which sex is everywhere and young girls want to be part of it too because they are somehow exposed and expected to be so, but they are still so misinformed and naïve, trying to make sense of their new sensations. So if you, as a reader, have any prejudice towards this subject on books, this may not be of your liking.

Anyway, I am glad I have read the book because the author makes you take part in this community, which is so different from what I have experienced; and I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t even know where Guyana was in the map – such is the size of my ignorance, which was sorted out thanks to this story. However, there were aspects of the novel that didn’t like that much. For example, the narration sometimes is focused on describing certain characters and, therefore, lacking action and making the read slow and, when there are actually events happening, you don’t feel them connected. Besides, and that is my own handicap to blame, the language used in the book is that of the dialect or the accent of the people of this country, and I really had trouble in understanding some of the conversations.

Nevertheless, Buxton Spice is an interesting read with a subject not wide spread through literature in a country where most of us haven’t read books set in, and those are points to take into account when looking for diverse reads, aren’t they?

rakin3Did you participate in the diverseathon? Do you have any recommendations?

Buxton Spice
Oonya Kempadoo
Published by Phoenix (UK and Canada)
Paperback, 184 pages