Love After Love is the second novel written by Trinidadian author Ingrid Persaud.
I first saw this book floating around Caribbean bookstagram and after seeing all the great reviews, I had to read it and find out what the hype was all about!
The story is told from the point of view of three characters: Betty Ramdin, Mr. Chetan and Solo, Betty's son.
In the opening scene we are first introduced to Betty and Solo's early life. After drinking, Betty's husband, Sunil, is often abusive towards her and their son. She tries hard to protect Solo from his father's wrath and offers herself as the target instead. On the night on Solo's birthday, Sunil dies after falling down the stairs in their home.
A few years later, Betty is maintaining her home and raising her son on her own.
We are then introduced to Mr. Chetan, a teacher at the school Betty works at. One morning, while driving Solo to school, Betty notices Mr. Chetan outside waiting for the taxi. She offers him a ride to work and learns that he is looking for a new place after his previous landlords have decided to move to the U.S. Betty offers Mr. Chetan the spare room in her home and he accepts the offer. Over the years, Betty and Chetan become best friends and he and Solo also form an unbreakable bond.
One night, when Solo is a teenager, he overhears Betty and Chetan talking and revealing a secrets that turns his world upside down. Angry and depressed, he leaves Trinidad to live with his father's brother in New York. Meanwhile, Chetan moves out of Bettys home as both of them are moving on and finding partners. Without Chetan and Solo around, Betty often finds herself lonely and missing the days when they were altogether. After years of Solo being away from home and Betty missing him terribly, a tragic event brings Solo home and reunites the family.
Love After Love is both heartbreaking and beautiful. This was my first time reading work by Ingrid Persaud and I found her writing engaging, authentic and rich. I loved the Trinidadian dialect as it made the story feel real and bring the characters to life. Betty, Chetan and Solo are lovable and relatable throughout the story.
The book also tackles themes such as family relationships, domestic abuse, queerness in the Caribbean, depression and self harm and ultimately, love. While at times the story was grim, it was noble that Ingrid Persaud decided to deal with these themes are are often overlooked and hushed in Trinidadian society. She brought it to life and didn't sugarcoat anything.
Overall I found this book to be unforgettable, beautiful and well written. I can't wait to read more from Ingrid! She's such a talent!
My rating: ★★★★★