The Daughter of L'arsenal
by Jacqueline Regis
Sterling House Publisher

"[My mother] touched her pregnant belly, as if talking to her unborn child. 'This is going to be home for us for awhile,' she said."

On January 13, 2010, a 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti, near Port-au-Prince. It decimated much of the country, destroyed thousands of homes and killed more than 200,000 citizens. The lucky were left living in tent camps with insufficient food and water. The country is still digging out, today, in late May. After this disastrous earthquake, many of us find ourselves learning more about this impoverished, beautiful country. Many of us probably never even knew where it was, say nothing of the living conditions, language, food, health care, etc. The Daughter of L'arsenal is an inspiring memoir of just that place, Haiti, and a woman who emigrated to the U.S. but has never forgotten her country nor her extremely giving mother. Regis became a lawyer, and now serves as counsel in a corporate law office of a major insurance corporation.

Regis was born in Haiti into extreme poverty, but birthed by a mother with a lot of pluck and a lot of love—a woman who got by without a spouse, stable housing, indoor plumbing, or sufficient food for her children. Regis writes, "L'arsenal became my mother's home when, eight months pregnant and with no place to call home, she went to live there in the early 1950s... Frightened and alone, she stepped on the front porch of an abandoned hut in the L'arsenal region, balancing a small suitcase in one hand and a pillow under her other arm... [she] touched her pregnant belly, as if talking to her unborn child. "'This is going to be home for us for awhile,' she said."

Aside from writing about family situations and moves, Regis discusses social class, patriarchal attitudes, and the large influence of the Catholic church on this country. Despite dire circumstances, which today are even more dire, Regis' family was close knit, and the mother was determined that her children would do far better than she did. Almost forty years ago, Regis came to the U.S., attended high school and college and became a lawyer, something far beyond the grasp of most of her neighbors in the rural town of L'Arsenal. Today, she lives in Minnesota; this is her first book—a heartwarming and inspiring memoir that investigates what determination, grit, and maternal love can create, even in the face of great deprivation.

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