The only reference I will make to Queenie in this review is that I will not be comparing this book to Queenie. I see a lot of reviews have done that, but I’ve decided not to because… it’s an entirely different book and I will treat it as such.
You are a people person in that the way that you get people. You see people. And, like, properly see people. You see us, you see who we all are, in our own way. And you don’t judge us for it. You don’t ask people to be who they aren’t. And I don’t think many people are like that, so, yeah.”
People Person is Candice Carty-Williams sophomore novel and I truly enjoyed the experience of her taking us into the lives of the Pennington. If you read and loved My Sister The Serial Killer and Mr. Loverman I am almost sure you are thoroughly enjoy William’ latest book.
The novel begins with Jamaican absentee father Cyril Pennington waking up one day and deciding it is time, albeit over ten years later that he introduces all the children that he know of and claims to each other. Yes, you read that right. Basically Cyril has five children (that he knows of) by four different women, but he’s never paid an active role in their lives. One day he decides it is his duty to introduce them to each other because they are at the age where they may be sexually active and he doesn’t want to be held accountable for them accidental well… committing incest. He visits the four homes and picks up the five children, takes them out for ice cream, drops them back and they never hear from him again. Before the siblings depart, the eldest Nikisha tells them that even though they may not be close, they can call her for anything because they are blood.
Fast forward to a decade later and Nikisha’s phone rings, it is one of her siblings, Dimple, taking her up on her offer to help… Nikisha then calls all the other three siblings, nothing could prepare them for the “help” that Dimple needed. We see five strangers who are connected by blood come together under difficult circumstances and how that changed their entire lives.
First let me say, I enjoyed reading this book. It had a cast of characters that were fresh, interesting, likable and also refreshingly honest. I would say, some of the characters are more developed than others and I did want to hear from them a lot more- specifically the dad Cyril, Lizzie and Nikisha.
I do believe that there are certain parts of the book that were borderline unrealistic and had me thinking “dis nuh mek nuh for a sense…” but then I remember I am reading FICTION so where is the line right? I wish there was more thought put into how the siblings all came together it just did not ring as believable. I also found that some parts were also unbelievable but not as much as the initial meeting. I also feel like the author could not use the father dying to have them come together but… something else would have been more believable I guess.
I loved how the author explored the theme of family, what it means to be family and belonging. It was done in a layered way, it showcased that families are and can be toxic. How the lack of a father in a child’s life affects how they see the world, their relationships and how they navigate difficult situation. I think because there were five siblings the author showcased how an absinthe father affects each differently and that I thoroughly enjoyed reading about.
I need the author to write a book about the father Cyril. I felt myself leaning in a lot more when he was mentioned or when he showed up. He is such an interesting character and so very Jamaican. I felt I have heard and seen men like Cyril growing up and still to this day they are about. What I appreciated was that she didn’t just show that he was a wasteman, she showed WHY he was a wasteman and also clearly reminded us that sometimes people are in fact shit, or just don’t know how to be there for their children or have no remorse and just live their best life with zero regrets. I could do a case study on Cyril. What an unforgettable character. But then it just drives the feminist in me CRAZY!
Overall, this is one book that I will remember for a long time. Parts were borderline unbelievable, other parts had me truly crying, the rest had me enraged and engaged, I would recommend you give this one a read.