Amaya's Garden



Mitchell, Carol

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This thesis is a novel about a young woman growing up in Jamaica who loses her immediate family. Using a non-linear approach to the story-telling, the book shows how the events shape her life and how she picks up the pieces. The book is about trauma and survival. In 1979, Amaya is seventeen years old. The political situation in Jamaica is unsavory; party politics rule and the divisiveness is characterized by a significant level of violence. Amaya’s father’s business is directly impacted by the political situation. Her father is threatened at work and Amaya’s mother, after years of trying and miscarriages, is at the start of her third trimester of a pregnancy, and Amaya’s sister, Amaryllis, has fallen for Dave, a young man of whom both Amaya and her father disapprove. All these tensions come to a head one night and ends in a terrible disaster. Amaya pulls her life back together. She finishes high school, and goes to University in Kingston Jamaica, leaving behind most people who know her tragic past. She becomes pregnant and grabs at an opportunity to flee her past entirely by moving to the United States with the father. There, after a difficult start, she lives a comfortable life with her husband. He is a lawyer and she manages his practice and raises their son. She completely buries memories of her troubled past, of which her husband is not aware. When the memories begin to intrude on her present, Amaya’s life unravels once more and she is forced to face and deal with her past. *** At the heart of the book as I have conceived it is the idea of trauma, survival, and whether it is possible to escape the way our past has shaped us. In the Caribbean, trauma is seldom addressed. People are advised to just move on and get over it. We are praised as being resilient when we face natural disasters with stoicism, and people are often ridiculed for seeking professional help to overcome difficult experiences. This attitude is slowly changing however, I do want to highlight the impact of not dealing with trauma, the way it manifests itself in unpleasant forms and the ways in which it can be passed on through our DNA.


This thesis has been embargoed for 10 years. It will not be available until May 2030 at the earliest.