Book Review #2: MockingbirdPosted: August 16, 2013
A short literary break from the hurly-burly, high-season fishing, farming, foraging gig:
I have not been to Cuba, but I’ve spent enough time in tropical countries to know the ominous feeling that lurks below the surface of vibrant colors and sunshine. A feeling of something dark, an undercurrent you can’t quite articulate, a feeling that things might happen beyond your control. This contrast between tropical light and dark permeates Julie Trimingham’s debut novel, Mockingbird, in such a beautiful way, it feels exactly like the real thing: never quite said, but always there.
This is a book of gorgeous language, so rich and self-assured I found myself re-reading sentences just for their music. How can anyone’s first novel have this much confident, fully-formed talent on display? The story itself is a tale of a woman–a young, white, North American actress–who finds a seemingly abandoned child in Cuba. In her well-meaning efforts to care for the child and her visions of giving it “a better life,” we see her moral ambiguity, and possibly a kind of cultural arrogance.
As she bonds with the child, she leaves a trail of wreckage in her wake. But what’s more interesting, at least to me, is what we come to understand about the narrator through her first-person subjectivity. In the tradition of Huck Finn, these are truths the narrator cannot see in herself. Mockingbird is a beautiful book, and for me, an absorbing, exotic escape from our crazy-busy season here in the Pacific Northwest. I highly recommend it.