Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Les Chemins de Loco-Miroir | Lilas Desquiron

Two girls are born on the opposite sides of the Jérémie, Haiti. It is decreed by the loas that these girls are marassas, two divine twin souls. Cocotte and Violaine are destined to live out their lives together, their entwined spirits bonding them as sisters despite their different parentage and social classes. 

But that's not really what this book is about. Functioning through split chapters that divide the perspectives of Cocotte, Violaine, and the occasional secondary character, LES CHEMINS DE LOCO-MIROIR is a zombie story that does its darndest to make a commentary about social class. Despite her early betrothal to Philippe, a wealthy, light-skinned man within la haute société de Jérémie, Violaine falls in love with poor student Alexandre, a revolutionary during Papa Doc Duvalier's despotic reign in Haiti. Not surprisingly, none of Violaine's family members are keen on this relationship, and they punish all those involved in the star-crossed lover's union. 

The pacing worked well and the descriptions of scenery were lovely in both French and English. The split chapters functioned to propel the story onwards, but now that I've finished the book, I realize that Cocotte's only real purpose is to describe the things happening to her light-skinned, extraordinarily beautiful marassa. She doesn't get her own love story. She serves as spectator to Violaine, commenting on how absolutely attractive and wild and desirable she is. Moreover, Cocotte does absolutely everything that the other characters ask her to, from smuggling revolutionaries into the mountains to working to free Alexandre from jail. Where's her autonomy? Where's her passion? Maybe this book is just going above and beyond in its ruminations on colorism by not allowing Cocotte a relevant role, but I'm not convinced it's that clever. 

Had I not been required to read LES CHEMINS for class, I likely wouldn't have found it on my own. It's worth the read if only for the insights it allows into the Haitian vaudou religion, but the rest of the book feels like a diluted photocopy of Maryse Condé's CROSSING THE MANGROVE, complete with its own wild-haired Mira and her shirked lover. 
© ReadingHannah | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig