Cover Image: If I Survive You

If I Survive You

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Really unique writing that captured multiple lives as they wove together. I loved the writing and was captivated by each chapter which read like short stories

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If I Survive You is a collection of short stories, connecting like steps In a staircase, leading to a portrait of the transition of a Jamaican family to Miami. Facing hurricanes, racism and poverty, Trelawny and brother Delano struggle against impossible odds as they attempt to find their poece of the American dream. This debut novel is impossibly good, heartwrenchingly honest with shake your head humor. The authenticity and relatability of the characters moved me to tears, laughter and understanding. I loved this book. Jonathan Escoffery's writing is captivating. Five Huge stars. Thank you Netgalley, publisher and Mr. Escoffery for the opportunity to read this novel in exchange for my honest review.

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If I Survive You is a beautiful and incisive linked short story collection about Jamaican immigrants living in Miami, centering on Trelawny, the youngest son in the family, who is struggling to reconcile his identity and what it means in the world.

Over and over, If I Survive You gives us beautiful sentences and images that reveal heartbreaking truths about Trelawny and his family's experience.

I do wish that there had been a little more plot momentum in this collection. The stories can feel meandering in places, and particularly because there's not the full through-line of a novel to connect them, I sometimes struggled to stay engaged.

Thank you to NetGalley and Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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I’d like to thank Jonathan Escoffery, NetGalley, and MCD for providing me an advanced free digital copy of Mr. Escoffery’s masterful debut novel If I Survive You. In the novel, two young parents flee violence in their native Jamaica and seek refuge in Miami for themselves and their two young boys. However, they find living in the US to be almost as difficult if not more so than living in Jamaica. The book is structured using interconnected stories involving various members of the family, including extended family, at different points in time and in various geographic locations, and it uses at times both light and heavy patois, making the “feel” of the book seem genuine. The book is ingeniously crafted, well-written, and compelling, and I can’t wait to read more from this new author.

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Topper and Sanya flee Jamaica, hoping for a better life in Miami. They and their two sons remain motivated to succeed, even as their failures multiply. Some of the failures are bad luck. Some are bad timing. Some are social ills. Many are self-inflicted.

Most of the chapters belong to Trelawny, the younger son, but his father, mother, brother, and cousin also have their own chapters and perspectives, triumphs and tragedies.

The reader experiences moments of great sadness, jaw-dropping incredulity, and wild hilarity. It is a tale, told in a collection of stories, that can give you a detailed look at the lives of one immigrant family.

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Interconnected short stories are my jam and these, set in Miami in the 1970’s are wonderful. This is an author I will pick up every time.

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What a collection! Jonathan Escoffery is a beast of a writer!

This is a collection of interrelated short stories about a family of first- and second-generation Jamaican’s living in Miami during some of its toughest moments in history: Hurricane Andrew and the 2008 recession. The main character is Trelawny (who is the only born-Canadian) and in that way, at times, feels disconnected from his “Blackness” and his father. But the stories shift POVs. Between Trelawny, his father and his older brother. The father laments about having to leave his home behind to struggle in America and about his failures as a husband and a father. Trelawny’s brother, Delano, laments over his failed marriage, and business and struggles with depression. But mostly we follow Trelawny as he struggles with identity, poverty, homelessness, direction, and familial ‘beef’.

It is a triumph of a collection. Sometimes a short story collection may have a few duds. Meaning you love a few and the rest are ‘okay’. But I loved every single story on its own and as a collection. The way he chose to explore the themes of racism, homelessness, and identity were truly impressive. The stories were all unique, surprising, and sometimes relatable (especially the themes of identity, being racially ambiguous myself). What was at the heart of this collection was the complicated family relationships: It was suffocating, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. But I could really sense how suffocating it is when a family misunderstands one and other. When a family lacks communication and understanding. And the external situations (the hurricane and the recession) definitely heightened that feeling of suffocation. This was a broken and complicated family. At times spiteful and selfish, at times loving and empathetic. And the ending; the final line, which I will not reveal, just really put it all in perspective. Highly recommend this gem!

Thank you to NetGalley, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and the author for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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A fantastic string of stories building a greater novel of Jamaican immigrants.

Topper and Sanye along with their child Delano, have fled political violence and made a new life in Florida. After settling and having an additional child Tre. Very quickly their children learn that in the U.S they exist between races and don't necessarily fit in with any group. Through Hurricane Andrew, the '08 recession, and multiple family issues, we follow this engaging family. If you like culturally interesting stories, beautiful writing, or just like an American immigration story, then If I Survive You is for you! #IfISurviveYou
#FararStrauss #Netgalley

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A very strong collection of stories. There's realism and humor and a lot more. All of it is well written. Recommended.

I really appreciate the free ARC for review!!

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Loved this about a Jamaican family during the 1970s who come to Miami. These are story stories that connect - sometimes funny always touching - the style of writing is gorgeous

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In this beautifully written collection of short stories we follow different members of a Jamaican family and their story of immigration to the US, determination, loss, perseverance and will to hold on to what they cherish as family and identity. Some of these stories were very heart wrenching, yet others gave valuable insight on the Jamaican immigrant experience in America.

The author’s writing style is very different, with some stories being written from the first, second and third person points of view, while also incorporating a myriad of literary devices to the stories to life. Each story was vividly told and will definitely leave a mark in my mind.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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The title of this book is definitely appropriate for the content of the story. The format of the story can be a bit confusing at first but I got the hang of it fairly quickly. Each chapter is about a different person in this particular family at different stages in their lives but it’s mostly about the youngest of two sons. It’s a Jamaican family that has moved to Florida and how they assimilate into American society. The youngest son is the one who is having the hardest time of it. He just can’t seem to catch a break to move ahead in life. I like the subject content and the way it’s written. It’s a story that actually made me think and try to imagine the way of it all.

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Jonathan Escoffery has succeeded in writing a series of short stories so connected that the entire work can be taken for a novel. Additionally, these memorable stories are both sad and funny, deal with a young person’s identity crisis (both racial and cultural), racism, homelessness, family discord, financial disaster, and Miami culture.

Most of the stories focus on Trelawney, the younger son of Jamaican immigrants, and the only person in his nuclear family to have been born in the US. At school, no one thinks he looks or sounds Jamaican, because he is not. Additionally, his complexion suggests Hispanic or Dominican, and it turns out that in this country, society has a need to pigeon hole people’s ethnicity, so at times, Trelawney has to announce himself as Black. The absurdity of colorism is very well portrayed.

Escoffery’s writing style is impressive, and I am personally in awe of how he portrayed Trelawney’s desperate poverty and homelessness without crushing the reader with overwhelming sadness. For instance, at one point, Trelawney’s job is certifying people for public housing, all the while being homeless himself. While having compassion for these people in need, Trelawney is also torn between being totally honest, and taking care of himself. Some of the people Trelawney deals with are very funny!

There were several characters in these stories, and I admired the way all the voices were distinctive. Trelawney’s narrative is particularly distinctive,, the way he puts you in his shoes, while his father’s is in a Jamaican dialect. His mother’s language suggests that she has assimilated more, while his brother Delano can switch back and forth. There is also his cousin Cukie, whose story is also riveting.

I recommend this wholeheartedly. Thank you to Netgalley and Farrar, Straus, Giroux for introducing me to Jonathan Escoffery.

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The author has a unique style and his personality shines through. Even though I didn’t always connect to the material, I did find his life experiences interesting and he gave a very unique view of how different races in America view each other. I think his audience may be someone other than a white female senior citizen, but I enjoyed his enthusiasm.

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The story takes a bit long to develop, but it is worth the wait. Page after page, as you root for Trelawny, you are also not surprised by his eventual demise. But that makes this very important story, with race being a predominant theme, another gentle rude awakening about this country’s “caste” system. This is a must read, especially for anyone who thinks that one can just work hard and prosper.
Aside from the story, the writing is amazing and the different perspectives throughout are unforgettable. I did want to hear more about Cukie, even though that appeared to be a separate story that didn’t weave back to the main storyline. I doubt I will be forgetting these characters and their stories.
Thank you Netgalley for a ARC.

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IF I SURVIVE YOU is a compelling look at a Jamaican family in transition. Within each of these connected short stories, Escoffery paints a vivid picture so that the reader quickly becomes immersed in the scene. I especially enjoyed the character development. Never preachy or pedantic, these stories do make you look at the world in a new way. Highly recommended for fans of literary fiction.

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Escoffery’s new collection of short stories fit together as neatly as a novel. “In Flux,” the collection’s opening piece gives the author’s answer to the peculiarly American question, “What are you?” As a nation obsessed with lineage, we’ve all considered mail-order DNA kits and websites promising to reveal our connections to royalty. We’re familiar with playground questions about ancestry. When Escoffery’s character, Trelawny, faces blunt identity questions, he examines that overwhelming American trait, assimilation.

These eight stories combine to form a picture of a Jamaican family in transition. As they gain a foothold in Miami, the needs of extended family and wishes to return to simpler times pull them back to their roots. Between biting winters at a northern university and sunny Jamaican beaches, the youngest son, Trelawny, finds an uncomfortable middle ground in his hometown, Miami. But misfortune hounds the family. Hurricanes, unpredictable income, and secrets from the past batter them as they struggle to stay connected. Underneath it lies a cracked foundation, a cherished house sinking.

It's hard to avoid phrases like, “powerhouse short stories,” and “dazzling debut.” Each story enlightens the rest, making the collection a perfect balance of tenderness and grit, hope, and despair. Escoffery’s dark humor rings throughout, hip and down-to-earth. Defiant in the face of adversity, Trelawny wills himself through hard times. Even in despair, the faded American dream calls. There must still be a way to realize it. If there isn’t, he’ll make one

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Thanks to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for an e-ARC in exchange for my opinion.

“What ARE you?” That’s the question that’s bothering Trelawney. Most accurately, he thinks, he is an American. But he could be Jamaican…or Jamaican American. Trelawney knows that what his questioners are likely getting at is “are you Black?”. His family came to Miami from Jamaica to take advantage of the opportunities available for bettering themselves, but nothing seems to be working out and racism is a big reason among others.

This book is a collection of related short stories following Trelawney, his brother Delano and his father Topper as they attempt to get a foothold in America. I liked how the family's struggles were handled, with humor and empathy. The writing is often lyrical and always true-to-life. As a debut novel, this book heralds the rise of a solid new voice in literature. I’ll look to Jonathan Escoffery for more in the future.

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I really liked the way this was written. I like how all the characters and stories were connected. I thought some stories were better than others though.

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In If I Survive You, Jonathan Escoffery tells the story of a Jamaican family in the Miami area through a series of interconnected short stories. Escoffery's language is lyrical and the characters are engaging. The story of this family is one that all should know.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Trelawny and his family. We learn about Trelawny, his older brother, Delano, and his parents, Topper and Sanya. Through the stories, we learn that Topper and Sanya fled the violence of 1970s Jamaica and landed in Miami. They worked hard and built a life for themselves and their sons. We follow Trelawny through his adolescence and adulthood as he tries to understand his place in the world. We go through his ups (college scholarship) and downs (homelessness) all while rooting for Trelawny.

Escoffery touches upon race and racial self-identification. Trelawny is light-skinned and never thought himself black until others told him he was. He discusses cultural differences and immigrant adaption. Trelawny speaks "American" while the rest of the family speaks "Jamaican". Escoffery talks about societal norms and their affects on those who feel abnormal. Trelawny's cousin, Cukie, spends a summer with his deadbeat, lobster-trapping father after he is told that he daydreams too much in school.

Escoffery masters the art of generational storytelling. I wanted Trelawny to succeed and wanted to smack him when he made horrible choices (which he does. A lot.). Escoffery's characters are real. We see their insecurities, their resilience, their crazy decisions. But through it all, family-pull remains strong, even if it ends up damaging in the end.

Thank you to #NetGalley for an #ARC of #IfISurviveYou

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