Short Stories of the Yester Years
by Gigi Mera

"Little River is bathed by the longest river in Hispaniola: the Artibonite River."

Consisting of seven short stories, this small but interesting book offers a glimpse into life on Hispaniola. Deemed “the pearl of the Caribbean” by Christopher Columbus in 1492, today this Caribbean Island consists of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Linked by setting, each narrative takes place in Little River over decades of French control.

Mera’s anecdotes encompass the years just before the slave revolts of the late 1700s to the 20th century. Capturing the hardships of women caught in slavery and their struggles to regain their ancestors’ autonomous life, Mera’s tales feature strong female protagonists possessing survival skills and wit. Elements of magic and superstition are incorporated into some of the stories, especially in “Strangers in Our Mist,” a paranormal sketch of a child born with a defect that allows him certain abilities, leaving the townspeople to believe he is of “another world, another life.” Mera’s offerings contain a common thread—the resilience of the native population of Hispaniola and its surrounding islands.

Though the text has some typographical issues, they don’t lessen the reader’s enjoyment of these tales from “another world, another life.” Moreover, Mera’s collection of island events is an intriguing tribute to strong women. One can find much to admire in their will to live better lives and leave behind something worthwhile. Her choice to include characters who despite being born into slave-owning families find themselves rebelling against the evil practice is commendable as it offers one a feeling of hope for humanity. Rife with characters who are cruel, cunning, sneaky, oblivious, jealous and filled with hate, it is reassuring to find those who are loving, witty, clever, and filled with remorse. Covering the breadth of the human psyche, these accounts of island life are intriguing, bringing the island’s past alive with all its horror, mystery, sorrow, and hope.

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