One Informative Thorn of a Book

by alexguerrero92

I hate being the tourist. I hate being called a tourist, even when visiting foreign countries. And I know I’m not alone on this, especially after having to endure a barrage of ego-bruising insults on the very first chapter of Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place. How bad is it? Well, let’s put it this way. Unless you enjoy being repeatedly referred to as “you, the tourist”, you probably won’t be too pleased. It may seem a little harsh and critical, but only in the end will you truly understand what message Jamaica is trying to convey. However guilt-tripping that message may be.

It’s no use getting angry at books. Arguing with them will only make you look crazy. Yet, one can’t help but give off a few “Excuse me?”s and “Well, I say! That was highly unnecessary!”s. I won’t blame you. Virtually, the entire first chapter is about drawing you, the reader (see what I did there?), out of your comfort zone and into a boiling pot of water. In this case, putting you into the shoes of a pasty-faced portly sub-species of human called “the tourist”, and shunning you on your travels through poverty-stricken Antigua. Don’t like it? Well, suck it up, princess! You’re being shunned for a reason! For outside those fancy hotel resort walls is an entire country victimized by the negligence of its corrupt government; its people so poor, they can only dream about going on any sort of vacation. But that’s only the first chapter. The rest speaks of the plight of the people, shedding some light onto a world that seriously differs from ours. The book isn’t easy to digest, especially if you’ve gone on a fancy vacation to a resort in a country like Antigua. How can you even consider going to Antigua after being exposed to the hardships the people suffer through day by day? But the book in a whole isn’t a pain to read. In fact, it contains brilliant imagery and colour as well as a style sure to dig deep into your very soul, burning into you a kind of realization and appreciation for your own way of life.

A Small Place is like a plane ride. Throughout the flight you get nauseating turbulence, bland food, and cranky flight attendants, but only in the end when you land will it all be worth it. It isn’t necessarily an agreeable book, and will most likely have you shaking your head than nodding, but all of it is done for a reason. The “shock and awe” approach is clearly effective, and Jamaica displays a lack of reluctance when pushing the boundaries. Like the ghost of Christmas future, it shows you the unpleasant things in order to change your perception of the world, and can possibly change your actions. I recommend this book to young adults and anyone planning on travelling to an exotic country.

496 words


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