Here Comes the Sun

Nicole Dennis-Benn

There are many compelling facets to this book, which is largely the story of a mother and two sisters who live together in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The older daughter Margot is employed at a big resort and has worked her way up, striving towards the management level, partially through her strengths in business but also in part because she learned early how to leverage her sexuality when her mother forced her to have sex with a man for money. Early on in the novel, the owner of the resort reveals to Margot that he wants to build another resort in her own neighborhood, and she will stop at nothing to become manager of that new resort, even as it threatens to destroy her family’s home.

While Margot may seem ruthless at times, she is working to protect her younger sister Thandi from a similar fate, saving money so Thandi can go to a good school and hopefully become a doctor. But Thandi is quietly suffering, having been sexually assaulted at a young age, and feeling self-conscious about her darker skin around her classmates. Though she is a good student, she only dreams of becoming an artist, which would be a disappointment to her family. Their mother Delores is harsh with her daughters in different ways, and her place in the story is only minimally sympathetic.

There is one more woman in this story: Verdene, who lived for many years in London and returned to Jamaica even though she is an outsider on a few levels. She no longer speaks patois, having returned with a clipped British accent, and most people remember how she left under the shame of having been caught in a relationship with another girl at university. But her mother Ella has passed away, and she is holding on to house as her last connection. She and Margot are having a secret relationship, but Margot struggles to be fully present due to her own traumas and the photos of Ella watching.

Here Comes the Sun is not the easiest book to read, dotted with difficult moments centered around true-to-life, painful realities. Though I wanted the most for these characters, it became increasingly clear that a traditional happy ending would be hard to come by, despite the hope of the title. The reference to the sun here seems to be more about bringing light to the shadows.