The Dangers of a Red Dress

Land of Love and DrowningLand of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique through the Riot Read Book Club. If you’re not familiar with the Riot Read program, Book Riot has partnered with Quarterly to send out books. Members pay $25 (it started at $30) a month and you don’t get to know what the book is ahead of time. I like it because it feeds my Get Out of Your Comfort Zone need. It’s a chance to read a new author or something that I might not have picked up on my own. The first book was Landline by Rainbow Rowell, which I enjoyed and I can say that I would not have read it had Riot Read not sent it to me.

Although, I don’t consider much of what I’m going to write about spoilers, some might. So, continue at your own risk.

The story takes us through the lives of two sisters in the Virgin Islands beginning around the time of the Danish to American transfer. The oldest sister, Eeona, must raise the younger sister, Anette, after the death of their parents. Eeona was raised in a more fashionable manner and struggles to come to terms with their situation after left near penniless. She is saddled with the responsibilities of raising a young child, she no longer has the status she once had to marry well, and she desperately misses the father that abused her. Yes, dearest dad has an incestuous relationship with his oldest daughter. Eeona never once refers to it as abuse. Instead, she idolizes her father and would have argued that he loved her more than he loved her mother or his mistress. Dad’s a great guy, no?

Needless to say, Eeona makes some mistakes with raising Anette. Anette is much bolder than Eeona and enjoys more freedoms than her older sister. She does not suffer from worrying about What People Will Think. She falls in love with Jacob, who Eeona can’t abide and prohibits Anette from seeing. Because that has ever worked. Eeona makes the mistake of not telling Anette WHY Jacob is such a bad match for her. And so, it is many years later that Anette learns that the love of her life and father of her second child is her brother (from the mistress). This is not a secret that is kept from the reader. Why no one ever told Anette, or Jacob, that they are related still baffles me.

I struggled to settle into this book, but it wasn’t the subject matter that blocked me. It was the speech pattern for Anette. I’ve had this problem before with reading dialects. I will readily admit that I didn’t read Huck Finn in high school because of Jim’s dialect (I did, successfully, read it later in college). The story does switch perspectives through out so, at first, I found Anette’s sections a bit jarring but I got used to it. I was on the fence about continuing when I got to 100-page mark (this is where I usually decide). I just feeling meh about the whole story and wasn’t sure I want to spend any more time on it. I set it aside for a while and read a couple something else’s until I picked this one up again. I’m still on the fence about it but it was interesting enough to keep reading. Tiffany Yanique did do a wonderful job of immersing the reader into the lives of these people and life in the Virgin Islands.

History buffs beware! The book is not historically accurate and the author admits this in the note at the end. I didn’t know it while reading the book. I don’t think it would have made a difference to me but if you are extremely knowledgeable about the history of the Virgin Islands you might be grumbling throughout the book.

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