The Two Germaines
by Marie-Ghislaine Mera
Amazon Digital Services LLC

"When you don’t have what you want, you work with what you have. We have each other; we will make it work."

Try as one might, fate will always send out reminders that even the best laid-out plans are not within human control. When an earthquake devastates Zoar, a city south of Bohio Island, it also plants the seeds for an unprecedented friendship between two women sharing the same name of Germaine: Germaine Lazare and Germaine Belizaire. Their fates, however, are more intertwined than anyone could possibly imagine.

Bonding between the shared pain of a natural disaster and the loss of their loved ones, the two Germaines find solace in sharing memories of where they were when the earthquake occurred as well as the untimely demise of their husbands. For Belizaire, she shares that the visceral image of her politician husband’s burnt body, burned in a prison fire at a time when he shouldn’t have been jailed in the first place, is too heartbreaking; she is unable to even look at it in the casket. As the two Germaines become good friends, so too do their children. When life shows signs of returning to normalcy, the town Lazare and Belizaire are living in, Artibonite, is overtaken by revolutionaries. Interestingly, the revolutionaries select Germaine Lazare to go back with them to the Valley of Gideon and meet their leader. In a frenzied panic, Germaine Belizaire flees to her brother in Germany to get as far away from the revolution as possible.

Mera’s use of both dramatic and situational irony throughout is impeccable. The novella demonstrates the monumental ripple effect of a singular event or decision. In this narrative, lives are changed and uncomfortably intertwined like it’s a great big life puzzle or a gargantuan game of musical chairs, where the reader knows who will end up where, but the central characters are destined to be oblivious. In the story, Muller, the sixteen-year-old son of Germaine Lazare, functions as the link between the Germaines and the two individuals that he develops a relationship with—Mr. X, an amnesiac, and Octavia, the leader of the revolution who ultimately becomes Muller’s mentor.

Holistically, the story is fast moving, delivering a complete storyline within its seventy pages. Further, audiences will appreciate the tension that builds up from the plight of the characters; by the time the veil is lifted, only a few characters are able to escape becoming victims of fate and circumstance. Perhaps the lesson to be taken from the characters is simply to embrace both change and the present moment, never veering too far into the past or future for either to derail the now. The two characters that are most emblematic of this philosophy are Muller and Marguerite Belizaire, Germaine Belizaire’s mother-in-law. Her nurturing nature is the thread that helps Germaine Belizaire hold her life together while the world around her is crashing. With irony at the core of every plot development, Mera’s work resembles life itself. Some audiences may view it as a sign to never get too comfortable with your situation because, be it through a natural disaster or happenstance, change is lurking around the corner. Relatable characters and a free-flowing plotline make this book a meaningful read.

Return to USR Home