A powerful coming-of-age novel, Songs of Irie by Asha Ashanti Bromfield immerses readers in the sights, sounds, and emotions of 1970’s Jamaica. It's a testament to the strength of friendship, the power of music, and the resilience of the human spirit.
Jamaica is ablaze with political tensions. The upcoming elections have widened the divide between the poor and the wealthy. The streets are a battleground. In the midst of this chaos, two young women find an unlikely connection through their shared love for Reggae music.
Meet Irie, who comes from the heart of Kingston, where street fights are commonplace. Her father owns a record store and this is where she (and us readers) meet Jilly. She lives in the hills, behind the safety of gated mansions nestled within lush gardens. Their backgrounds couldn't be more different, yet their bond grows as they spend time together immersed in the rebellious sounds of Reggae.
This story is a poignant tale of friendship, love, and resilience amidst the chaos of civil unrest. Bromfield's writing captures the essence of a pivotal moment in Jamaican history, where music becomes a lifeline and love faces impossible odds. The characters come alive, and their struggles resonate deeply with me, especially as someone who is of Trinidadian heritage. My family came from (and still resides in) a community much like the one of Jilly and her family.
Bromfield brings her Afro-Jamaican heritage to the forefront. She fearlessly tells these stories, infusing them with authenticity and redemption. She invites Jamaican (and Caribbean) women to find solace in shared humanity and reminds us that our struggles matter. We matter. This sweeping novel deserves a spot on your reading list. Dive into the rhythms of Jamaica and witness the spirit of Irie and Jilly as they navigate love, revolution, and the echoes of rebellion.
Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and Wednesday Books for a temporary e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.
I was really looking forward to this one because I really liked Hurricane Summer + I knew it was sapphic + I was interested in learning about the historical context. I may come back to this one in audio format instead, because I just couldn't get into it for whatever reason when reading it physically.
If Asha writes it, Im absolutely going to read it! She did not disappoint. This book drew me in. I stayed up all night to finish it only for my heart to break. But Asha breaks it so good that I’ll continuously subject myself to it 😩
I love when a book also gives me information and history of a place and time period that I did not know of beforehand. This book gave me that. Before this book, I did not know about the political unrest that happened in Jamaica during this time. I love how this book is able to perfectly mixed in real life events with the storyline of our favorite duo.
This was a fantastic book. I will be screaming about it until everyone I know reads it. Truly a great novel.
Due to St. Martins Press refusal to address the remarks made by their employee regarding Palestine, I will not be reviewing this book.
This in no way has anything to do with the author. But I refuse to support anything from SMP because of their refusal to address a major issue at hand.
Once again, Asha Bromfield knocks it out of the park with Songs of Irie. Combining love, struggle and heartbreak, this book is certainly one you won't be able to put down.
“ Dem can kill a revolutionary, but dem cyaan kill a revolution”
“ they can kill a revolutionary, but they cyaan rest, Irie. Yuh haffi lead with the love an’ light the way... Yuh only get one life”
I cannot express how much I love this story and the raw emotions and realism, that was expressed in the novel. Reading this story was like seeing the stories my grandparents and parents would talk about and it was such a blast to read.
Loved Irie as a main character. Jilly and Irie relationship was amazing to read about because I could feel the passion off the paper. Getting to be in both of their perspective was everything.
mind blown. i loved this authors first book hurricane summer. she didnt disappoint with this one either. another love story set in jamaica with singing. i felt like i should have a whole bob marley playlist after reading this one.
update full review can also be seen @drbooksreads via instagram
Asha Bromfield once again let me give you your flowers for the Beautiful Sophomore novel you created.
🌺 If you haven't read my review for this authors first book Hurricane Summer please do. It was one of my favorites of last year. The author didn't miss with this one either. Her Love of history and passion for Jamaica will leave you in tears and educated!
❤️ This is a love story but also so much more between two best friends Irie and Jilly. Both girls are Jamaican but from different sides of the tracks. Irie is no stranger to poverty and Jilly to the finer things in life. However happiness is only found when they are with each other and can escape their worlds. But what is this friendship/love if built off half truths that are discovered in the midst of a life changing war? That is what the reader is given in these pages. A story of love, friendship, deceit, political gain, poverty, colorism, caste systems, and the truth of the power of music. Every character in this book played a significant role and the author wrote them well. My favorite was Junior.
🎼 Irie and Jilly meet at a fancy high school. Their friendship blossoms and is destroyed through the love of reggae & societal differences. It was great to read the history behind reggae and how the artist used it for the purpose of spreading love not hate. I need to listen to more BOB especially in todays society.
💨 My Final thoughts: Jamaica in the 1970's was a total war zone. Families destroyed all in the name of political gains. It's amazing to see how diplomacy in the past and present has failed so many. In the end we are left with the memories of the survivors to learn from. I know this book was one of fiction but the story was so much deeper and very relatable to today economical crisis. This is literally one of the best books I've read this year.
🥰 Special thank you to @netgalley @ashaashanti and @stmartinspress @wednesdaybooks for the ARC given to me. This book is available now and please let me know what you think!
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars
#jamaica #reggae #songsofirie #ashabromfield #love #war #politics #bookstagram #books #romance #murder #gangster #friendship #gayrights
- thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an arc to review!
- a stunning sophomore book that explores revolution and connection in a nuanced way. Bromfield knows her craft, and handles the topics selected with nuance and care. alongside strong prose and captivating characters, Bromfield is still in her game with her novels, and songs of irie is a great novel to read.
Asha’s books are so powerful, tender, heart wrenching. This story about the war in Jamaica and two friends on either side grappling with that and their feelings for each other. There was so much to learn from this story for me personally. It scooped me up and had me swept away the whole time
Beautiful story! I got the chance to talk to Ms. Bromfield when she was YALL FEST and the way she told the story of how she wrote Songs of Irie was EVERYTHING and more!! She gained a fan out of me and what makes it even more magically was that I got to listen to the audio book while I read it so it was even more amazing!
Thank you to Macmillon for my ARC in exchange for an honest review. This was okay! Nothing bad but nothing I LOVED either.
"Songs of Irie by Asha Bromfield is a lyrical masterpiece that resonates with the soul. Bromfield's poetic prose weaves a captivating tale of love, loss, and self-discovery in the vibrant world of Irie. The characters are beautifully crafted, each note of their journey hitting a poignant chord. The author's ability to evoke emotions through words is truly remarkable. With a rich tapestry of culture and an enchanting narrative, Songs of Irie is a symphony of storytelling that deserves every one of its five stars."
This story was amazing from Irie song all the way to the action that took place regarding the upcoming election. Then to see how different each side of Irie and Jilly were because of status.
There is a civil war going on in 1970s Jamaica and Irie and Gilly are caught in the middle of it.
This is a love story in many different ways: a love story between two girls, between an island and an author, and between the music of the island and the story that music tells. I can tell Bromfield poured her entire soul into this book and it shows. It's beautiful and lyrical and heartbreaking.
I liked hurricane summer but I loved this book. A sapphic romance? Signed me up. I loved the friendship which blossomed into something else. I felt emotions while reading this book. Laughter, joy and anger by the end because I had no idea this how the story would turn out. All in all I loved how the authors shed light on what happens around election time in the islands. These events don’t just happen in Jamacia but in all the islands and it’s not spoken about enough. I loved the representation for all in this novel
Songs of Irie is a powerful book, a mix of brilliant sparks flanked by lit dynamite. From the very beginning, the danger builds terribly hot but the characters are all so heartfelt, I had to keep going despite my stress peaking.
Irie and her best friend, Jilly, are graduating from an exclusive high school in Jamaica where only the most wealthy attend. But Irie is a scholarship girl from the poor side of Kingston and so she and Jilly are about to embark on two different paths into adulthood. But the summer is theirs and the two young women get closer, pushing their relationship beyond a friendship. Meanwhile, around them, it’s 1976 and Jamaican politics are getting bloody and violent.
The author does a good job of portraying both worlds without dropping into stereotypes. There are cages and there are cages. Jilly should have been the off putting arrogant rich girl but even flawed, she grew beyond her societal constraints. Irie and her family are the epitome of finding joy and fire in the bleakest of circumstances. Reggae music infuses every page. Irie writes and sings, using lyrics as her weapon against tyranny. Patois is part of Irie’s circles and the author faithfully puts it on the page in the dialogue. It was a really good use of differences in language to show the split between uptown vs. downtown.
I would recommend this book if you like emotionally charged YA/NA, flawed characters, and socially conscious stories. Personally, I wish the author had ended the story on a different note but it was still a solid finish.
This book is heavy, not with information but with emotion. The perspective of events in the book are raw and I feel could’ve only been described through personal events. Bromfield, the author, packs the book with important take aways for everyone. With a wide array of nuanced topics not only involving Jamaica's political history, but big themes of privilege and society. In this world bias is hard to describe and hard to talk about, the author is able to allow the reader to feel immersed in the world of bias and ignorance.
I highly recommend this book to anyone willing to read a book to learn and become openminded to everyday situations. You will not be disappointed in reading this book.
So many of the teens in my creative writing classes ask for stories about friendship. SONGS OF IRIE by Asha Ashanti Bromfield delivers an exquisite story about the friendship between Jilly & Irie. The novel also offers an important perspective on what was happening in Jamaica in the 1970s. Most people, myself included, have had little exposure to Caribbean history. SONGS OF IRIE is a fantastic novel and I strongly recommend it.