A Haitian immigrant recounts her struggles to find happiness in the United States.
In this historical novel, Fortune tells an immigration story through the eyes of Cynthia Josaphat, a Haitian girl sent to live with her father in Massachusetts as a teen. Cynthia, along with her siblings Sheila and Paul, moves in with her father, Michel, called Micho. He is both determined to have his children with him and neglectful of them, often to an abusive degree (“All three of us were breaking down in the house,” Cynthia says at one point). Cynthia grapples with learning English and adapting to life in a new country as well as Micho’s unreasonable expectations. She also misses her mother and her extended family in Haiti. After her mother’s death, Cynthia finds that her relationship with Micho deteriorates further. She begins to fend for herself, living with friends and relatives in Massachusetts and Georgia while trying to finish school, keep a job, and handle bouts of depression. Cynthia moves from place to place and from one bad relationship to another, dealing with the challenges of poverty and trying to balance her needs against the expectation that she will make a better life for herself in the U.S. than she could have in Haiti. Cynthia’s distant, first-person narration gives a retrospective feel to the text. “Georgia was a tough place to try to find work back then,” she explains, “that was before digital video disks (DVDs) and the internet were popular” is another clue to the never precisely defined era the tale takes place in. This approach often leaves the book feeling more like a memoir than a novel. But Fortune does an excellent job of worldbuilding, bringing the story’s multiple settings to life and conveying the stress and confusion Cynthia feels as she tries to navigate challenging situations made more difficult by the cultural context she finds herself in. Cynthia’s ultimate triumph, delivered in an epilogue, is satisfying.
A solid, if occasionally uneven, cross-cultural coming-of-age tale.
Out of the Darkness by Jeanne Fortune is an interesting tale about a young Haitian immigrant who comes to America. Cynthia Josaphat is sent to live with her father in Massachusetts in her teen years, along with her two siblings. Her father, Micho, is hard to please and has set impossible standards for his children to the point of being abusive. Aside from navigating through her father issues, Cynthia struggles with learning English and adjusting to her new life in a new country. More problems are about to ensue. A cardiologist confirms that she has a heart defect that needs fixing. With a deceased mother, Cynthia’s relationship with her father continues to deteriorate and she decides to manage her own affairs. She tries to finish school while living with friends and relatives while also holding down a job and dealing with depression. Out of the Darkness is worth reading for the glimpse it provides of the Haitian immigration experience. This is among the very few coming-of-age novels that profoundly tackle the subject. From a critical standpoint, however, there is a sort of unevenness in the way the period of the setting is conveyed that relies on feelings of longing and regret. The novel is a first-person POV narrated by Cynthia, whose approach to her lot in life is with detachment yet with a gleam of hope that actually materializes in its resolution. The strength of Out of the Darkness is Jeanne Fortune’s style of realism, where motivation is revealed through action. This may be unnecessary on certain occasions, as Fortune delves well enough into the mind of her protagonist but it doesn’t bog down the narrative. Fortune’s immigration tale works and it makes for a powerful coming-of-age story.
Out Of The Darkness by Jeanne Fortune is a slice-of-life novel that follows the life of an immigrant teenager in the United States. Haitian teen Cynthia Josaphet's life turns upside down when her father, Michel, moves her and her siblings, Sheila and Paul, to the United States to the town of Salem, Massachusetts, leaving their mother back in Haiti. Struggling to adjust to a different language and her environment, Cynthia's life is further complicated with the diagnosis of a heart defect and a neglectful father. As she grows up in abject poverty with a string of bad relationships, she gradually falls victim to depression and finds herself homeless with next to nothing to her name. Can she rise back up and fulfill her dreams? A captivating tale showcasing the resilience of the human spirit, Out Of The Darkness is an inspirational story about a young woman's journey back to life from a pit of despair. Heartbreakingly poignant, Jeanne Fortune's novel perfectly encapsulates the struggles faced by first-generation immigrants in America as they embark on their journeys to achieve the American dream. The book follows a first-person POV-style narrative through the eyes of Cynthia, the main protagonist. You quickly find yourself rooting for Cynthia as she suffers tragedy after tragedy and eventually makes her way out of her harrowing circumstances. The characters seem genuine and authentic. Despite the tragic nature of the narrative, the story ends on an optimistic note. If you're a fan of slice-of-life stories, you'll love Out Of The Darkness.