Friday, 2 October 2015

Book Review :: Force Ripe

Cindy McKenzie’s 'Force Ripe' is a charming tale of toiled experiences, faced by an Afro-Indo- Caribbean, under aged, girl in the time of political unrest that was the Grenadian revolutionary era. The author uses stream of consciousness, the Grenadian Creole, sensory imagery and symbolism to successfully convey the fragile and frightened perspective of a young girl in the midst of war time. During these years of boldness and bloodshed, history is in the making and everything is as fresh and new as leaves during a tropical rainy season and as ripe with possibility as a good fruit crop.

The characters palpably display a search for identity faced by many Caribbean people with their engaging sense of reasoning and their motivated moves to action, spurred by a will to survive and a time of enabling disregard for the opinion of the wider world. An opinion, aggressively echoed through decades in chants of ‘Let them come, we will bury them in the sea!’ and ‘It takes a revolution to make a solution!’ Words that are still heavy with longing and regrets for many Grenadians today.

However, this time of search for identity during which the book is set is not without its winding roads. Under the stress of seeking a solution that fits every class, the characters of ‘Force Ripe’ face challenges as varying as mass migration and the ripping apart of families in search of financial stability, to new, radical spiritual commitments in the hunt for acceptance and ownership of self apart from the whole.

The author builds on themes of isolation, emotional turbulence, the extended family structure, abuse and spirituality through the symbolisms of visions, outer body experiences and the use of sensory imagery and local idioms. At one of her darkest hours, covered in shame and desperate for healing the main character describes her situation as ‘…feeling like a titerree in a river full of crayfish.’  (Force Ripe 2015) and the reader cannot help but get a sense of the strain of a child, propelled into a very adult situation, who is ever seeking to heal the sores of her past quietly and without the much needed guidance of a loved one.

When tackling resolution the author approaches it with the same level of insecurity present in the days post revolutionary Grenada. The future is unsure but certain, dauntingly but excitingly unwritten like the blank pages of a child's journal. ‘Force Ripe’ proves itself a brazen tale of strife and survive of both a girl and of a nation.


All in all it was an interesting book. I admit it was a bit challenging when I first began because it is written in my native Creole and even though it is a language I often speak their is no official written version and my brain is not used to seeing it in print or actively acknowledging it in inner dialogue. 

When I became invested in the characters I warmed up to the tale more quickly. The setting is familiar and in fact much of the story takes place on my side of the islands. Familiar too are many of the scenarios, patois sayings and customs of the children and the adults in their lives..

It is always interesting to me to read alternative perspective on the Grenada revolution and though it was much cameoed in this novel, I was able to see things through the perspective of a young school girl. A point of view I think, is beyond valuable in the face of the fact that much of that time is unwritten or remains hidden even now...

Lee's story reminded me of the resilience of my people even in the face of socio economic danger, coupled with individual instability. It was an engaging and unique experience reading her story.

If I had to rate it I would give it 4 stars. Not because the book is bad but because of personal bias. The literature I most enjoy is brimming with literary flavour ( but I'm sure you know that, Pride and Prejudice, Gone With the Wind and Sense and Sensibility are my guilty pleasures after all) this story's style is much more auto biographical and without comparison I appreciate it for what it is: a life lived bursting with determination for freedom and fruitfulness backdropped by Caribbean landscape. I applaud the author for being brave enough to write this and braking the silence on such a heinous issue.

If you're a non national and think you're up the task of reading a novel in a language much different from your own or a Grenadian by birth or boat and would love to be submersed in the goings on of the Grenadian people, you can check out Force Ripe available for download and purchase via amazon Sunday October 4th 2015!


  1. Loved your review on this, makes me want to go out a buy it (hard copy of course....I am a hipster like that...e-books are too mainstream)

    1. Don't worry, so am I, hardcopy is where it's at ;D

  2. Loved your review on this, makes me want to go out a buy it (hard copy of course....I am a hipster like that...e-books are too mainstream)

  3. I really need to get this book. Thank you for the review.

  4. I really need to get this book. Thank you for the review.


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