What’s your favorite book this year?

My favorite book is What Storm, What Thunder by Myriam Chancy! 

Let me ask you, what do you know about Haiti? Do you know about the association of the Louisiana Purchase and Haiti? Do you know that it is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere? Do you know about an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 people died during the 2010 earthquake? That the earthquake displaced countless individuals? I vaguely knew some of these facts, but the keyword is vaguely. This novel did a fantastic job solidifying my knowledge and prompted me to do more research on Haitian history. I had an ambitious reading goal this year, but I came short, and quite frankly, several of my anticipated reads were disappointing. However, this novel did not disappoint; in fact, it was brilliant – to think this book was not even on my radar. 

The novel is a fictional story that centers on a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, which devastates Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on January 12, 2010. The story follows ten different interconnected characters before, during, and after the catastrophe, in a non-chronological manner. The characters include an architect, a market woman, an expat, an emigrant musician, a drug trafficker, an accountant, and a mother. The story touches on Haitian culture, colonialism, colorism, disaster relief/humanitarian response, immigration, racism, and sexual assault. 

I’m not going to lie; this book was gut-wrenching. But, that being said, I adored every minute of it. I realize some people will find the multiple points of view distracting, but the numerous perspectives allowed me to visualize the disastrous experience fully and made it a remarkable book. Chancy skillfully crafted the inner lives of the various characters and gave them distinct, compelling voices. Their stories were descriptive, engaging, and I felt like I was part of the narrative. It was evident that Chancy did meticulous research while writing this novel.  

The character that resonated with me the most was the emigrant musician. Immigrating to any country is a constant struggle because you are trying to assimilate and preserve your own culture – utterly exhausting. This quote from the novel illustrates the strain “Sometimes, being an immigrant is like being illiterate. Not only do you have to learn a new language, but you have to learn new codes, cultural ways, mind yourself, stay out of trouble. A paperless, immigrant alien has to be even more careful than one with papers, has to stay on the right side of the law, remain beyond reproach. I can be anything you want…It’s close to being a servant, a jump and a skip to having no name, nowhere to land. The lack of place to call one’s own gives me vertigo”.

In conclusion, this book was poignant, captivating, and I learned a tremendous amount. I highly recommend it! You will learn so much about Haiti and this calamity. Pick it up ASAP!

Did you read this book? Who was your favorite character? Least? Why?

Interested in this book? Click here to buy it on Amazon or find it at a bookstore near you!