[Written by Dale Butler]
This is the first time I’ve written a book review since I entered the book business in 1976 with my own publications and after helping dozens of local writers get published. My early work concentrated on filling in the gaps, often left behind by prominent writers like Bill Zuill, Sr. and Terry Tucker. Biographical series titled Triumph of the Spiritthe first book on Dr. EF Gordon: Bermuda Working Class Heroand then branch out into kids’ best sellers like It takes a smiling raindropwho received a standing ovation while taking a summer course at Columbia University on another bestseller called The Legend of Cod and Potatoescriticized as a “fake” and not a book of folklore by one of my reviewers, only scratched the surface of my works.
Later, as Minister of Culture for the Government of Bermuda, I made it mandatory for the Ministry to publish three books a year to build on the foundation that Ruth Thomas, Bermuda’s first cultural affairs officer, had established when she produced the much underrated Bermuda Souvenirs. I’ve never ventured into novels, but I’m glad to see all genres being published regularly. This would also please my mentor, the late Nellie E. Musson, author of Watch out for onion seed.
The field of writing has many players with a variety of genres. While I was developing the upcoming Crystal Butterfly Literary Awards and the Daniel Literary Awards, I came across a book titled Addicted to hash, man, not the drug by Zavane, only to run into her the next day and she excitedly handed me a copy of why did i kill my brother.
The provocative title instantly grabbed my attention along with a photo of his beloved siblings, Jake Spencer kissing his younger brother Umoja Nia Augustus Spencer. The book is well designed in a supremely legible print using Accent opaque cream cardstock paper that I’ve always wanted to use but could never afford. So, I was excited when I bought my copy from him.
The dedication page made me focus on three things:
- This was the Cain of Bermuda [Jake] and abel [Umoja Nia] [See: Genesis 4:1-25];
- unity intent [December 3, 1972 – February 5, 1995] It brought back memories of a family that I had a connection with;
- The tragic murder of my own brother that was related to the perpetrator.
As a young man, I had always admired the family for his grandfather’s business acumen, the founder of the Bermuda Provident Bank, his grandmother’s cunning, the huge house, and the fact that his mother was a great help to us when we produced the first book about the late music giant, Charles “Curtis” Michael Clarke and last but not least, his uncle was married to my mother.
In one night, I read 15 of the 18 chapters and was immediately captivated when this perfect house started to fall apart with so much going on. My pages were filled with comments and my handkerchief was soaked because I never, ever knew that this confident woman had endured so much. I was overwhelmed and put the book aside for two weeks, remembering this true story that led to a tragic conclusion filled with numerous twists and turns and a set of original quotes that began each chapter.
After I finished the book, it was interesting to read the five star reviews on Amazon because I had written the same words: “honest, raw, intriguing, empathy, emotions” and that “you know it’s a good book when I can’t put it down. ”
The author is the firstborn of three who loved her two brothers and was like a mother to them. It’s hard to believe that Nia, the youngest, loved her brother so much that she went out of her way to follow him to school every day. But within the family things fell apart once the parents divorced when the children were 7 and 12 years old respectively.
With a busy mother who was difficult to bond with and a father who traveled frequently, the author took responsibility for the children, only to discover that she wanted to go abroad to [St. Kitts, Massachusetts and Connecticut] complete his education and also leave his environment which was becoming more and more toxic.
As his mother said: “Once you start running, my son, don’t stop until you reach the finish line.” When he asked his mother what to do if there was no finish line, his mother replied, “Then keep running until you can’t anymore.”
After numerous tragic events and painful behaviors, the author, who tried to be strong like her mother, realized that she needed counseling and this book and a sequel became part of her growth. It would seem that many families will be able to identify with this tragic environment. There are so many unexpected twists. I will not give them away. But as an Amazon reader, I also felt like this was a movie plot.
The reality of Bermuda is that from my sheltered environment, I had no idea this was happening and it is a major issue, now coming to light in a tragic way, with gun violence in our community. When you learn how Jake got his gun back, confiscated at the front door, and the true story behind his and her father’s drug conviction based on their Buddhist mantra, “Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo”, and the meaning of it, you will realize. agree that much work remains to be done.
Plus, you’ll wonder how such a close-knit community can hide so much and more on our shores. The funeral with Jake present along with several plainclothes detectives, the manslaughter trial, jail time, and release are vivid and would be more impactful if the newspaper print were legible. It’s a painful story, indeed.
By divulging so much, I do not want to detract from the kindness I have seen in the family and their contributions to Bermuda. Too often, people are so excited and so busy building empires, fulfilling dreams, or improving things for the island that they lose sight of their own family.
Zavane’s reflections on a difficult and harrowing period of his life should provide hope to those similarly affected and a lesson to all that greenhouses exist. The answer to “why did I kill my brother” is subtly indicated in her book by her absences, as she clearly accepted that she was the mother of these children and that if she had been omnipresent, this tragedy would never have happened. happened. That’s really a burden he doesn’t deserve.
Despite the many challenges and tragedies she has lived through, she has reached a position of hope. I salute you with admiration for this excellent true story.
– Dale Butler is the CEO of Atlantic Publishing House [A.P.H.] and recently published: “Reflections of St. David’s Island”, “St. David Island Passport” and “St. David’s visa.”
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