Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday's Book

Brother I'm Dying
By Edwidge Danticat

This is a powerful book about love, life, and death in Haiti and in America.  Ms. Danticat writes about her love for her father, who emigrated to America when she was a little girl, and her love for her uncle who raised her in Haiti.

At the age of 12, the author moves to America to live with her parents. When the book begins, she is married and has just found out she is pregnant. At the same time she learns that her father is dying. As she tries to come to grips with these two realities, the book moves to Haiti and tells the story of her upbringing there, of her extended family and of life in Haiti. The chapters from Haiti are about family and about life in a country where the political situation, never stable, deteriorates and life gets more and more difficult.

At the end of the book, her uncle Joseph, who raised her, wants to come to America to see his dying brother. He obtains the proper tourist visa for entry into the United States and boards an American Airlines flight on October 24, 2004. He is 81 years old when he lands in the U. S. At the airport, he presents his passport and visa and then adds that he is seeking temporary asylum in the United States. It was not necessary for him to say this, at that time, and the people in charge at the airport became concerned and confused. So what do they do? They detain this 81 year old man and do they treat him well? No, they most certainly don't. He didn't have his medicine, he became ill, but the medic who examined him thought he was faking, so he wasn't treated. As his condition worsened, he was transported to a Miami hospital in shackles. Now, he is 81 years old, ill, and they put him in shackles! What is wrong with these people? He was first seen by a doctor 24 hours after he arrived in the emergency room. Eight hours later he was dead.

Ms. Danticat's father lived to see his granddaughter. The two brothers are buried in a cemetery in Queens, New York, and Ms. Danticat wrote a poignant last paragraph for her book - a spiritual acceptance and remembrance of these two brothers, who were separated for so long, but are now together. This is wonderful book of tragedy, faith, hope and love. 


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