A Story That Needed To Be Told
Til I’m Laid to Rest is Garfield Ellis’s third novel and like the characters that inhabit his other novels, Shirley Temple Brown is a reflection of the seldom heard but often felt realities of everyday Jamaicans whose voices are often hidden or suppressed. However, unlike his previous two novels, Such As I Have (2003) and For Nothing At All (2005), which feature the voices of Jamaica’s youth through memorable characters like Headley, Pam Wesley, Skin, and Stevie; Shirley Temple Brown is a young woman who has survived some of the hardest social and political times Jamaica has seen. But now she is finally tired of just surviving, she wants to thrive and she knows she must leave Jamaica in order to do so. Til I’m Laid to Rest situates women’s experiences and voices at the center of the cultural landscape, rather than at its margins. To be sure, several women writers have represented the complex experiences of migration that women have had to contend with.
Til I’m Laid to Rest places Garfield Ellis solidly among this tradition of representations once thought to be the purview of women writers. In Shirley Temple Brown Ellis has created a protagonist that will surely take her place among the many unforgettable characters that are part of the tradition of migration narratives in Caribbean literature.