- 1. How does How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House portray women and the roles of women on Paradise island? What does the book say about the role of men?
- 2. In this book, women struggle against violence, as well as the silence that enables violence. When do Wilma, Esme, and Lala decide to be silent, and when do they decide they must speak?
- 3. What is your interpretation of the phrase “as man”? How is this phrase important to Adan and Tone?
- 4. What was your first impression of the way Wilma treats her daughter and granddaughter? Did your opinion change as you read further?
- 5. Do you believe it is Lala’s fault that Baby died? Why do you think Adan puts all the blame on her?
- 6. Why do you think Mira is so plagued by her husband’s death?
- 7. How does the past haunt Lala, Wilma, and Mira? Do you think any of them are victims of fate? Which character do you think has the most control over their life?
- 8. Discuss the similarities and differences between Adan and Tone.
- 9. What does Lala’s name mean to the characters in this novel? How do the other characters (Esme, Wilma, Tone, and Adan) respond to her sing-song title? How does Lala feel about her own name?
- 10. How do Sergeant Beckles’s interactions with Sheba affect the way he investigates Baby’s death? What does this book have to say about the relationship between crime and law enforcement?
- 11. Why does Lala decide to run away instead of calling the police when Mira is found bleeding out on the patio?
- 12. Throughout the book, Tone struggles to suppress “The Thing That Eats Him.” Do certain people bring it out in him? What kinds of interactions make it harder for him to keep it under control?
- 13. What is the significance of the tunnels that Tone, Adan, and Lala enter at the end of the book?
- 14. Do you believe that there is a happy conclusion for Mira, Lala, and Tone? Discuss the ways they have they been freed or shackled in the ending of this story.
- 15. What role does the parable of the “One-Arm Sister” play in this novel?
“This book is heavy. And yet through debut novelist Cherie Jones’ poetic sensibility, it radiates a kind of breathtaking light, too . . . tough if luminous . . . through playful prose [she] invites the reader in. She never lets us lose sight of the heart—beating, wounded, alive—of tragic heroes.”—David Canfield, Entertainment Weekly
“Dazzling . . . in Jones’s capable hands, tension builds without diversion. The storytelling is far from breathless, but it will leave you that way: The effect is of a horrific opera in which ugliness is inevitable, but no less gutting when it appears. And in this opera, there are no minor characters. Each one, carefully and vividly crafted, has a crucial part to play.” —Deesha Philyaw, New York Times Book Review
“Stunning . . . The novel pulses with brutality and runs high with emotions, offering a searing and unforgettable portrait of generational trauma, a colonialist past, and a capitalist present."—Refinery 29
“This transporting novel set in Barbados reveals the way even the most disparate lives are interconnected. It delves into wealth and class, love and crime — and the emotional turmoil that roils in a rapidly gentrifying area and the people who live there.”—Good Housekeeping
"The novel’s a stunner . . . Jones’s evocation of Barbados is exquisite, her brushwork assured, as she portrays pink sands and gated villas, decrepit hospitals and 24-hour convenience stores. . . . Jones’s prose is supple, often luxuriant, but the structure of her novel is even more impressive as she bobs and weaves through the aftermath of two mysterious crimes. The pieces snap together, one by one, exposing the consequences of dreams deferred. Here’s the launch of a stellar literary career."—Hamilton Cain, Washington Post
“Harrowing . . . A compelling […] story of lives defined by trauma generation after generation.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Intense . . . Rich characters and pulsing backstories add a great deal of flavor to the drama. Jones is off to a strong start.”—Publishers Weekly
“The haves and have-nots clash in Jones’s searing debut. In affluent Baxter Beach, the gentry of Barbados maneuver around their servants with velvet gloves and steel nerves, exposing fault lines of resentment, love as ephemeral as a tropical breeze.”—O Magazine
“A hard-hitting and unflinching novel from a bold new writer who tackles head-on the brutal extremes of patriarchal abuse.”—Bernardine Evaristo, author of Girl, Woman, Other
“This book unfolds around the reader like ripples in water, it offers an unflinching vision of what it means to have a body and to fight to protect that body, it demands attention. These are characters voices I will be hearing for a long time and a book I will be recommending to everyone.”—Daisy Johnson, author of Sisters
“Cherie Jones’ How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is an intricately plotted allegory that explores the consequences of believing that you know better than the women who made you and charts the inheritance of trauma that is all too common in Caribbean women's lives. With rare compassion and deft storytelling, Jones renders a narrative that is haunting and unforgettable.”—Naomi Jackson, author of The Star Side of Bird Hill
“A gripping thriller, a symphony of voices, and a novel of deep empathy.”—Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
“Here is a bright new star. Cherie Jones has talent abounding, drawing us with skill, delicacy and glorious style into a vortex of Bajan lives on the edge, clashing across class and color divides. This is one of the strongest, most assured and heart-wrenching debuts I have ever read.”—Diana Evans, author of Ordinary People and winner of the Orange Award for New Writers
"How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is simply brilliant. By the first chapter, it burned into my heart. Ambitious, poetic, and layered with the rich voices of its many stunning characters, this terrific debut novel by Cherie Jones opened my eyes to the many ways that her young Barbadian protagonist must fight for her life."—Lawrence Hill, author of The Illegal and The Book of Negroes
“Cherie Jones's novel examines the calamities that occur when need and greed collide. Married couple Lala and Adan live on the beach in Barbados, and Adan has a plan: He's going to rob one of the Baxter Beach mansions. But when it all goes terribly wrong, everyone must reckon with the realities of the resort town they call home.”—Elle.com
“Welcome to Barbados, where wealth, class, love, crime and the lives of four characters merge in this seemingly picture-perfect paradise.”—Parade Magazine
"A plot driven by page-turning crime is balanced with subtle character studies . . . just as thrilling as it is poignant."—Marie Claire
"This intense debut thriller speaks volumes about domestic violence, class struggle, loss and the legacy of trauma."—Ms. Magazine
“It's a book of many things: of the limits of romantic and familial love; of intergenerational legacy, certainly; but more than anything else it is a book about the devastating reach of patriarchy on the most vulnerable members of society. . . . if you are looking for a story that explores power, bondage and freedom in the context of a small Caribbean community, How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House has many revelations.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Swap out SPF for this haunting novel….The women’s lives cross and the fallout gives a devastating new meaning to pink sands and paradise.”—The Skimm