Thursday, 17 October 2013

Reading Helps Prevent Prejudice

LeonidasGR / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
Last year, I stopped in Jamaica as part of a seven-day cruise. I had heard horror stories about the country and so I was scared to leave the designated port area. According to "reports", every man would rape me and I would be hooked on drugs before returning to the ship. However, my son and husband were eager to check out the island so we decided to tour a nearby historic house--Rose Hall. (Rose Hall scared the crap out of me but for a different reason.)

At first, I was really scared. I felt men stared at me in creepy ways and everywhere we went, people wanted to sell us something. To top it off, instead of taking a proper taxi to the Hall, my husband just gave a guy with a van some money to take us there. I was sure we would be found dead by locals in some ditch. 


That didn't happen. 


In fact, we met so many wonderful people on that trip. Nothing bad happened to us. We ate delicious REAL Jamaican food in a local restaurant. 


It taught me that though you should have common sense (because Jamaica does have crime), you shouldn't prejudge. In fact, I should know better. I live in Mexico, a country where prejudice and misconceptions about it abound. I think if I had read about it (from Jamaicans) before I got there, it wouldn't have been so bad. I should know better and that's why I am encouraging my children to read and learn about other cultures.


That's why I strongly recommend two MG books by Jamaican author JL Campbell. It's from the Simm Sibling Series and it's really good. (Click on the books to go to amazon.com.) They are about two siblings that have suffered a family tragedy and how it has effected each differently.



       

The stories are well written and discuss issues that affect young and old in the country of Jamaica. You really start to understand the cultures and traditions. I think it's a must read for all children, right along with To Kill a Mockingbird and The Grapes of Wrath.


Synopsis of book 1Raised in a hotbed of arguments and fights, eleven-year-old Christine Simms is always at the centre of conflict between her parents. With each new day and unfolding drama, she suffers through her mother's temper and cruelty. A domestic dispute ends in tragedy, sending the family into a tailspin. Christine's siblings become wards of the state and she is taken in by her father's sister.

A shocking discovery sends Christine on a quest to find the stranger who abandoned her in Jamaica and changed the course of her life. Determined to unravel the mystery of her birth, Christine uses every tool at her disposal and treads with courage where no child should.

Synopsis of book 2A young boy's future hangs in the balance when those sworn to protect him become abusers. 

A tragic domestic dispute between his parents lands eleven-year-old Samuel Simms and his siblings in the Downswell Place of Safety. The challenges come hard and fast, but the one thing Sam doesn't count on is being left behind in the children’s home. Angry and disillusioned, he gives up hope of adoption. 
A ray of light comes in the form of a foster family, but everything is not what it seems in the Miller household. After a harrowing five-month stint, Sam runs away. A victim of child abuse, he's determined not to repeat his mistake and opts to remain a ward of the Jamaican government until he’s eighteen. The burden of secrecy is more than he can bear and Sam's hair-trigger temper makes him disruptive. 
Under pressure from his aunt, Sam caves in and shares a tale of horror surrounding his foster parents. With his ordeal exposed, Sam must make life-changing choices. 

25 comments:

  1. Joy rocks!
    I've traveled to and lived in many foreign countries. No matter where you go, you should be aware. But I've always found the most wonderful people every time and never had a bad experience.

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  2. They sound like great books, Clarissa! I will give 'em a go!

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  3. Just bought Christine's Odyssey at Amazon.ca. Can't wait to dig in! And you know, I was thinking, you're right. Every new place is strange until you see it for yourself - and reading is a wonderful way to see it.

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  4. I hadn't even heard these bad things about Jamaica. It's definitely on my to-visit list, but I admit that being a single woman sometimes it's a bit more awkward travelling. Like when I travelled via Dubai (was meant to stay there 3 days but only stayed 1) on my own and let just this very thing (prejudice, and "reports", or rather just other people's paranoia) cripple me.

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  5. I just finished Christine's Odyssey and can't wait to read Sam's story. Joy is an incredible writer and Christine's Odyssey was a rich cultural and emotional experience.

    Like Alex, I've traveled a lot and agree that you have to be smart about things (just as you have to be from home on the internet)...but there's nothing like experiencing other cultures. It's the only way to break the barriers of prejudice and for some, books like Joy's are the only opportunity for some to 'travel' and experience the world.

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  6. You're absolutely right. Reading opens our eyes and minds to things we never considered before. Great write-up about these two books by Joy!

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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  7. Clarissa, I'm glad you had a nice and safe trip. I believe it is better to be safe than sorry and prejudice has nothing to do with it. I also believe most people are essentially nice and it is so most of the time wherever you go.

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  8. Thanks for the recommendation--will add to my TBR list! And it's so true--sometimes people make places sound scarier than they are when you visit. Glad you had a great trip!

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  9. Clarissa - So glad you had a wonderful trip. And you're right that when we read about a place and its people, we tend to have fewer stereotypes. In fact, I think knowledge is always a powerful weapon against prejudice.

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  10. Thank you for sharing these sensitive insights! I wish more people would. Yes, Jamaica has a crime problem, but so does New Orleans--one of the highest murder rates in the States. But common sense prevails, like here in D.C. I just avoid certain areas. On my own, I can't change certain environments, but, collectively, we can work together and move it all forward. Jamaica is gorgeous--would hop on a plane this afternoon if I could. And I've purchased Joy's books. She's an amazing writer. Hope you have a fab weekend!

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  11. What a wonderful experience. It's true Jamaica has some rough spots, but it's a wonderful place filled with kind people. Congrats to Joy!

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  12. SO TRUE... ALL places have crime. PLEASE... I live in one of THE most dangerous cities... Chicago. I've lived in NYC, Atlanta, Las Vegas, LA... ALL have high crime...

    When we travel ANYWHERE we should be aware... Believe me, I always keep looking behind me ... ALWAYS be aware of your surrounding wherever you are.

    And you are right, there are wonderful people EVERYWHERE!

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  13. Thanks so much for highlighting my books, Clarissa. Have you on my blog roll and I've been meaning to click on the title of your post, but the last two days at work have been horrendously busy.

    We do have our fair share of problems here and crime is definitely a problem, but I continue to hope that the people who choose a life of crime one day realize the harm they're doing our island paradise.

    Thanks again!

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  14. Congrats to Joy!! I'd love to visit Jamaica one day.

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  15. Joy is a great and inspiring writer from Jamaica. I wish more people in the world would follow her example.

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  16. Excellent reviews! I haven't been to Jamaica, but it's on my list. I totally agree about using common sense, but exploring a little off the tourist path. It's the only way to learn more about a place.

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  17. Congrats, Joy! Reading can definitely open minds and change opinions.

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  18. Those books sound excellent. I think the challenge when traveling is finding the balance between adventure and common sense. But if you visit another culture and stay in the "tourist" areas, what have you gained?

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  19. There are places where crime levels are low... but a perfect crime-free country does not exist.
    Christine's Odyssey is a wonderful story. Joy is a fabulous writer!

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  20. Congratulations to Joy. I myself will never go to Jamaica because of their human rights abuses toward homosexuals. However, I think straight bible-banging evangelicals could find much to enjoy there.

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  21. Great post Clarissa! My travels have taught me that we all have the same problems and most of us want the same things out of life. Having said that, it is very important to be aware of our surroundings in new places.

    Although I don't read MG books, these sound like good ones.

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  22. Hi Clarissa .. I'm so pleased you went out and about and saw more of Jamaica than just the harbour area! Everywhere there's crime, sadly ... and thanks for the reminder about Joy's books .. I've been meaning to read them ... now the first is added on my Kindle ..

    Cheers ... and it's good to understand others' cultures ... Hilary

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  23. This is amazing! I believe that these books are worth checking out.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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