Beyond the Shades
by Pat Sofrona
Trafford Publishing

"...but again, [Christina] still hoped and wished that her mother was round..."

Christina was a little girl at the time that her mother decided to leave Jamaica for England. Her mom gone from her life leaves a void no one can fill, even though her dad is an excellent parent who supports her academic achievements. By age eighteen, Christina is shocked when her mom unexpectedly pays a visit. Persuading her to apply to Oxford, Christina's mom also extends an opportunity for mother-daughter bonding time. After receiving a scholarship to the prestigious school and moving to London, Christina falls in love with Anthony—knowing full well that Sean, her childhood friend, has strong feelings for her. But when Christina chooses to marry Anthony, she is unaware of the changes that will unfold in her life, especially once she finds out that she's pregnant.

Pat Sofrona fashions an endearing human-interest story in her debut novel. Tightly set between Jamaica and England, Sofrona's third-person narrative opens with backstories about Christina's parents and her childhood before her mom's sudden departure. Sofrona zeroes in on a young woman who is highly intelligent, yet struggles with a mix of depression and disturbing dreams as she is desperately trying to create balance in her life. Befuddled by her dreams—not realizing that they are prophetic—Christina determines to make her marriage work even though she is cognizant that her father believes Anthony is not the best match. Although the story's plot is predictable, Sofrona embellishes her narrative with plenty of dialogue and uses that to place emphasis on tension between characters and the way they deal with various circumstances. Ending on an uplifting note, Beyond the Shades is a nice addition to Jamaican literature.

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