This affectionate but YA-ishly simplistic first novel tells of Marty Saunders, 26, rediscovering the Jamaican side of his soul on his return to the rural hills behind Montego Bay to watch his father's dying days. His visit causes a tug-of, war between his divorced parents: the taciturn father wants him to take over the family farm, while his mother, about to attain a professorship in Cambridge, Mass., sends anxious letters fearing his seduction away from his promising Cambridge career as a library curator. Half-written in American and half in a grammar-bending Jamaican (""Them start early while sea like glass, sun rising over reef beat down hard. . .""), the book has two stories. One tells about how Marty's mother, a native of America, took him away at 13, disgusted with her own 15-year detour into the simple country life. And played against his mother's cultural withdrawal is the story of Marty's Jamaican assimilation. He acts as bodyguard to a neighbor caught stealing a lobster from a bully's pot; he drinks mushroom tea and joins a campfire circle of friends revealing their greatest dreams; he earns a nickname; he has the Lassie-like adventure of rushing to town and back for medicine for a dying man. After his father's funeral, his mother arrives on a rescue mission, but Marty decides he'll return to the States when he's good and ready. Deftly enough told, but the characters lack the complexity to give it much bite.