Songs of Irie
by Asha Ashanti Bromfield
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Pub Date 10 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 24 Oct 2023
St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books
"A devastating and nuanced look at two teens’ battle for freedom, hope, independence, and love." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Perfect for fans of The Black Kids, Songs of Irie is a sweeping coming-of-age novel from Asha Bromfield about a budding romance struggling to survive amidst the Jamaican civil unrest of the 1970s.
It's 1976 and Jamaica is on fire. The country is on the eve of important elections and the warring political parties have made the divisions between the poor and the wealthy even wider. And Irie and Jilly come from very different backgrounds: Irie is from the heart of Kingston, where fighting in the streets is common. Jilly is from the hills, where mansions nestled within lush gardens remain safe behind gates. But the two bond through a shared love of Reggae music, spending time together at Irie's father's record store, listening to so-called rebel music that opens Jilly's mind to a sound and a way of thinking she's never heard before.
As tensions build in the streets, so do tensions between the two girls. A budding romance between them complicates things further as the push and pull between their two lives becomes impossible to bear. For Irie, fighting—with her words and her voice—is her only option. Blood is shed on the streets in front of her every day. She has no choice. But Jilly can always choose to escape.
Can their bond survive this impossible divide?
Asha Bromfield has written a compelling, emotional and heart-rending story of a friendship during wartime and what it means to fight for your words, your life, and the love of your life.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 95 members
Asha delivers another stunning and powerful depiction of island life. I read this book in 2 days and I was engulfed in the friendship of Irie and Jilly. School friends that have a connection through music although they come from two very different worlds on the same island of Jamaica. There is a strong pull amongst these two and this novel takes you through the meaning of friendship, the problematic politics in Jamaica circa 1970s and the struggles as well as the strengths in becoming your own as you enter into adulthood.
Set in Jamaica in the 70's, this novel paints a portrait of an island going through their struggles and the political landscape of those times. Told through the eyes of two school friends you follow along as you take the journey with two young people on their wat to adulthood. While doing so you also learn what it is like to live on an island seeking freedom from colonialism. My thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.