THE JACOB LADDER by Gerald Hausman


Age Range: 10 - 13
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A fictionalized version of Hinds’s childhood, he and Hausman have written a prose poem of a book that tells the story of a poor Jamaican boy who has to grow up real fast when his father suddenly abandons the family. Though he’s only 12, protagonist Tall T is the dependable one in a family of six children, the one Iya, his mother, counts on, the one “who’s expected to do more than anyone else.” The story is simple—after his father’s desertion, Tall T labors to continue learning, studying at the library because the school won’t let a boy with such shabby clothing attend, and working at whatever odd jobs he can find to help put food on the table. In the course of the novel he struggles to come to terms with his ambivalent feelings about his father, a “rough, rough man” who has become a stranger to the family, “a stranger whom we have known all of our lives.” Still, Tall T is proud when his father singles him out, offering him the honor of participating as the “devil’s treasurer,” the person responsible for gathering the coins the townsfolk throw at the dancers during the annual Jonkonnu ceremony. The language from the distinctive Jamaican dialect—“me no thief you,” to the vivid descriptions, “He’s fringed and fabulous . . . ablaze with tiny round mirrors, winking in the sun,” is textured and luxuriant. Pulsating with exotic color, the story Hausman and Hinds have created is vibrant and heart-warming. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-531-30331-4
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Orchard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2001


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