Cover Image: If I Survive You

If I Survive You

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Member Reviews

I received a free advanced copy of this book for my honest review. I really liked this novel which is broken up into a collection of short stories. It was written through a voice I haven’t read before. The story chronicles the lives of a Jamaican family. The main character, Trelawney, is a first generation American and a younger brother. He doesn’t really know where he fits in the world and he gets himself in some precarious situations trying to figure it out. This book tackles some difficult subjects from a unique perspective. I really enjoyed it even though some stories were darker than others and had adult themes. I kept forgetting I was reading fiction because the characters seemed like real people. This is the author’s debut work and I look forward to him having a lengthy career in Literature.

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Special thank you to Farrar, Straus & Giroux, MCD, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review this digital ARC of If I Survive You

This book is so beautifully written. IF I SURVIVE YOU took my breath away. These interconnected stories not only surprise and delight, but they introduce to us an important storyteller and human. It reads like a memoir but is all fiction! A truly delightful book!

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"If I Survive You" is written in second person, and at times the "You" seems to imply surviving all of us in this interconnected collection of stories about our main character who leaves Jamaica with his family and relocates to Miami. At times I was wishing the collection seemed a bit more chronological, even though to a large degree, it is and there's just a bit more backstory in some of the stories. Most of the stories are packed with energy and vigor and I particularly enjoyed the stories where he's younger and getting to know his family. Then our main character heads off to Michigan for college, but because it's the 90's and America is in a recession, he's unable to find a job with his English degree. When he returns home, his mother has returned to Jamaica and much of the remaining part of the novel is about the father and two sons who live together and their goals that are rarely met and their universal grief.

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Thanks to Netgalley and FSG for the ebook. This is a dazzling group of connected short stories that follows one family, parents and their two sons, as they’ve left Jamaica for Miami. The stories span years and follow each character at critical moments, including the dangerous political time in Jamaica that made the move to the States necessary, how the parents split up, each taking a son to live with them, how the one son struggles to get a college degree that seems useless the day after he receives it, how the other brother is torn between his tree trimming business and his floundering musical career. It’s such a smart and surprising book of stories that explore the secrets and resentments in one family.

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Great novel about family and searching for your identity. Loved getting some different perspectives throughout the chapters. Highly recommend.

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A stunning debut that looks at the life struggles of a Jamaican family transplanted to the United States. The novel shifts points of view between Trelawney, an introverted book nerd who doesn't fit into his family's macho culture; his brother Delano, a proud independent contractor; and their father, who fled the revolution in Jamaica to give his sons a better life and is now bewildered by their cultural adaptation. Escoffery deals intimately and personally with issues of race in America, relationships (none of the men seem to be particularly good at maintaining relationships with women), weather crises in Florida, and the crushing impact of the economy on the most vulnerable populations. These characters are neither caricatures nor heroes, but all-too-human to the point of cringe. A carefully-crafted story with multiple hidden depths.

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This reads like a memoir, but is a work of fiction. The narrative jumps around to various family members, but the main focus is Trelawny. I found parts of the books really interesting and some parts really uncomfortable, which I think was the idea!

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My father was Jamaican, so I had high expectations and this book did not disappoint. The first question in the book hit hard: "What are you?" I've heard that more than a few times in my life. This is a great collection of linked stories by a much-needed voice. I'm thrilled more wonderful Jamaican authors are getting their due.

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I received a free copy of If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery, for my honest review.

The book touts a review from Ann Patchett and she says... "reads like fiction written at the highest level." I didn't think anything of that quote when I first saw it but after reading If I Survive You, I agree. This book had a comfortable flow within each short story, but I did not love the overall fact this novel was made up of them. It felt like someone telling a story but there was an intelligence behind it that pushed it past the point of "mind candy" (an easy to read book on the beach) to a true fictional tale of race and life in America.

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What a lovely collection. The first story in particular blew me away. I love linked collections, or novel in stories, and this did not disappoint. It reminded me, most recently, of Afterparties, though both tackle similar threads by very different means (I preferred Escoffery's collection!). Each story had humor and heartbreak, and the sentences truly sung. Thanks so much for the e-galley!

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