Cecil Foster’s Independence (2014)
Meet the Author, Cecil Foster
Burlington Public Library - Central Branch
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 07:00pmJournalist and author, Cecil Foster joins us to discuss his latest book, "Independence", a story about a boy and a country coming of age, set in Barbados' as it gains its independence from Britain. Fourteen-year-old Christopher Lucas and Stephanie King have been...
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On the long bus ride home, when I usually revise my "to-do" list of the day, I pushed "get a set of letter stock and envelopes to write home" to the top of my list for the next day. Even with all the carry over from the days before, at the moment nothing is more important than writing back home. Somewhere between going to school, dreading getting out of bed to go to work, and bundling up against each cold day, it's as if I've forgotten about my family. The calypso I play at the bus stop and warmth I remember radiating off of the sand in Barbados are lifelines up north, but I can't remember the last time I called them. Even from the preface of Independence, the first few pages that I usually blatantly disregard, I felt guilty.
Christopher, the novel's protagonist, and Stephanie are God siblings, neighbours, and best friends. They are also coming of age in the time of Barbados' independence from England (1966) while their single mothers have gone "over n' away" to North America for work. While Stephanie has already slipped into the assumption that she is more mature than she actually is, Christopher is focused on getting back in contact with his mother. During post-independence Barbados, many of the island's young adults who went away to work slowly began to stream back in, and that's where the bacchanal begins.
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A few years ago my wife Sharon and I were driving along the island roads of Barbados, windows down, radio turned up. I remembered vividly the same scenes from when I was a little boy: sugar cane fields, outcrops of limestone, stands of mahogany trees, pastures where I played cricket, in the distance white sand beaches and fading blue waters. But there was also change, lots of it — a major highway, housing estates, a spanking new seaport where Oprah, Tiger Woods, and other billionaires dock their yachts.