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Mouths Don't Speak by Katia D. Ulysse
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Mouths Don't Speak

by Katia D. Ulysse

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
First, I have to note that the blurb on this book was incredibly misleading. I'd argue that, in some ways, it's simply false. And the truth is, if it had been more accurate, I likely wouldn't have picked up the book to begin with. Much as I respect Akashic Books and have loved their books in the past, I have to think the primary purpose of the blurb was selling books, vs. accuracy.

While some of Ulysse's prose is lovely, this is a somewhat plot-less and unevenly paced novel, and considering how sympathetic the characters Should be (based on what they go through), they're incredibly unsympathetic, to the point where I got more and more tired of reading about them, and could only care about the most minor characters in the book. There's also a real lack of plot, partly because the book spends a great deal of time building and building, and then speeds through what seems to count for a climax and ending. It would be insanely predictable also, if the blurb were accurate.

In general, this feels like a book that was rushed to publication, and perhaps pulled together from a number of short stories that were never destined to be a strong novel. In my opinion, it needed quite a bit more work, this only made worse by the fact that the powerful themes and events which are showcased on the back of the book as being primary to plot and conflict--the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 and a vet's battles with PTSD--serve more as backstory and jumping-off points than getting any real depth or focus, to the extent that I can't help half-wondering if they're mentioned so prominently in order to sell books and make this seem more unique than it actually is, vs. being relevant.

So, all told, I would not recommend this book. I feel a bit cheated for having so looked forward to it and then spent time on it, honestly. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Apr 21, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I have a few books set in Haiti on my tbr, but have yet to read one. Mouths Don't speak was the first I got a chance to and I enjoyed learning and seeing a new (to me) culture.

There are a lot of topics and heavy subjects in this novel making it not always an easy read, but a necessary one. We have Jacqueline, a Haitian born woman who now lives in America, dealing with the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake and trying to find her parents and then going there to help them. Her husband, Kevin, is also dealing with some tough issues. He's a veteran dealing with PTSD and is left to care for their daughter when Jacqueline goes to Haiti.

There are a few twists and some pretty writing, but I do wish it would have been a bit longer as I felt some of the plot and characters could have been fleshed out a bit more. ( )
  Kristymk18 | Apr 23, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
acqueline is an immigrant from Haiti, married to an ex-Marine with several combat tours behind him and untreated PTSD. They have a young daughter.

Jacqueline was neglected by her upper class Haitian parents as a child. When she was very young, she had been left in a boarding school while her parents toured the world. She had minimal parental contact from that point onward.

Nevertheless, she is frantic when she cannot contact them after the Haiti earthquake. She dials their unresponsive phone obsessively as the days turn into weeks. And yet, sometimes the unexpected happens.

Jacqueline decides to return to Haiti with her daughter to renew family ties and to reconnect with her home country. Her husband refuses to go with her as he considers the chaos in Haiti to be a virtual state of war.

Tragedy happens. The marriage is tested to its limits and then once again we return to the Haitian class divisions.

This is actually a very short novel, with many different themes braided into it. They are all interesting themes, but I felt that they were worthy of more development. Too many themes, like too many spices in a dish, can muddle the story. In addition this fairly bleak novel was tied up with a bow at the end, which was rather unexpected and I'm not sure fit with the rest of the novel. Can trauma be solved that easily?

However, it was a compelling read, that kept me quite interested. I also was fascinated by this look at the wealthy in Haiti and this view of the country. This is an interesting novel by a young author – I would definitely be interested in her next book.

I received a copy of this book through LibraryThing Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  streamsong | Apr 14, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Perhaps Ulysse tries to cover too much material in too little space. This story of a woman with a dysfunctional relationship with her parents and a husband with PTSD jumps all over the place. She lives in Baltimore and is trying to come to terms with the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti--where her parents live but where she herself hasn't lived since she was ten years old. With several digressions, switches in points of view, characters who really don't add to the story, I just couldn't get a handle on what story she was trying to tell.
Free copy from publisher through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. ( )
  seeword | Mar 18, 2018 |
This story focuses an Haitian-American woman and her feelings towards her emotionally unavailable elitist mother in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquakes. The young woman is also dealing with her veteran husband's PTSD from his tour of duty in Iraq, and that is another emotionally unavailable person in her life. She choose her mother over husband, and lives to regret it. The author had created a believable character, but like many books about third world countries the description of the poverty and despair just creates compassion fatigue, which is the emotion which sets the entire mood of the book. I received this book as an ARC from Edelweiss Plus and Akashic Publishing. ( )
  kerryp | Mar 6, 2018 |
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"No one was prepared for the massive earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, taking over a quarter-million lives, and leaving millions of others homeless. Three thousand miles away, Jacqueline Florestant mourns the presumed death of her parents, while her husband, a former US Marine and combat veteran, cares for their three-year-old daughter as he fights his own battles with acute PTSD. Horrified and guilt-ridden, Jacqueline returns to Haiti in search of the proverbial closure. Unfortunately, the Haiti she left as a child twenty-five years earlier has disappeared. Her quest turns into a tornado of deception, desperation, and more death. So Jacqueline holds tightly to her daughter--the only one who must not die"--Page [4] of cover.… (more)

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