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Fire Rush

de Jacqueline Crooks

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902305,993 (4)18
"Set amid the Jamaican diaspora in London at the dawn of 1980s, a mesmerizing story of love, loss, and self-discovery that vibrates with the liberating power of music Yamaye lives for the weekend, when she goes raving with her friends, the "Tombstone Estate gyals," at The Crypt, an underground dub reggae club in their industrial town on the outskirts of London. Raised by her distant father after her mother's disappearance when she was a girl, Yamaye craves the oblivion of sound - a chance to escape into the rhythms of those smoke-filled nights, to discover who she really is in the dance-hall darkness. When Yamaye meets Moose, a soulful carpenter who shares her Jamaican heritage, a path toward a different kind of future seems to open. But then, Babylon rushes in. In a devastating cascade of violence that pits state power against her loved ones and her community, Yamaye loses everything. Friendless and adrift, she embarks on a dramatic journey of transformation that takes her to the Bristol underworld and, finally, to Jamaica, where past and present collide with explosive consequences. The unforgettable story of one young woman's search for home, animated by a ferocity of vision, electrifying music, and the Jamaican spiritual imagination, Fire Rush is a blazing achievement from a brilliant voice in contemporary fiction"--… (mais)
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**Shortlisted for the 2023 Women’s Fiction Prize**

4.25⭐️

Set in the late 1970s and 80s Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks follows second-generation Jamaican –British Yamaye, as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery. We meet her in her early twenties, living with her father, who, for the most part, ignores her in a run-down apartment complex in Norwood, London. Her mother, a midwife, never returned from a work trip to Jamaica when she was a child. Working a night-shift factory job, the only vibrant aspect of her life is the time she spends with her friends at The Crypt, an underground dub reggae club amidst the music and the ganja clouds, or in the local record store. When she meets Moose, a carpenter and fellow Jamaican, at the club, she begins to dream of a life different from her own. But when tragedy strikes and violence erupts, she escapes to Bristol with a recent acquaintance who forces her into a life of crime. Fortunately for her, she finds a way out. Eventually, she travels to Jamaica on a quest of a more personal nature, but will she find what she is looking for?

“Because nowhere’s safe–not the streets, governed by police with barbed-wire veins; not our homes, ruled by men with power fists as misshapen as their wounds. The only place to live and rage from is our hearts.”

With its compelling characters and and intense (at times suffocating, fever dream-like) narrative that flows with a pulsating rhythm, Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks is unlike any other book I have read. The author states that this novel is a fictionalized account of her own life. The tone of this novel is dark and forceful, yet poetic. The author uses vivid imagery to describe the dub reggae scene and the underground club culture of the era. The impact of racial tensions and surveillance and social and economic inequality on the Jamaican diaspora, in particular, is explored in great detail. In Yamaye we see a young Black woman searching for her voice, lonely in a crowd, craving for a sense of acceptance and belongingness, trying to fill a void in her life left by the absence of her mother and her mostly indifferent father with music, with friends, and with relationships among other things. Her journey is a difficult one largely impacted by the volatile socio-political landscape of the era and fraught with questionable choices and untrustworthy characters, but we keep rooting for her as her search eventually takes her on a journey of self-awareness, instilling in her a sense of worth and hope for a brighter future. The only constants throughout her journey are her music, her innermost thoughts, which she expresses through the same medium and the voice of her mother she hears in moments of utmost despair. The author addresses themes of racism, police brutality, violence and crime as well as self-discovery, spiritualism, and the mysticism of Jamaica to create an absorbing narrative. The dialect (Jamaican patois) took a while for me to get used to, but overall, this is a stunning debut that I could not put down. ( )
  srms.reads | Sep 4, 2023 |
Fire Rush is a coming-of-age story that originates in a bleak industrial town on the edge of London in the late 1970s. It describes the oppression of Black people and their mistreatment by the police, as well as the power of music and sound as a place of escape.

Yamaye works nightshift in a factory, but the weekend is what she lives for – raves in a church crypt where dub music plays and she can dance and hopefully one day, DJ. She has two good friends who join her and one night she meets Moose and they fall in love. Moose is quieter, more mature than Yamaye and has plans for their future. When he is brutally killed at the hands of police, Yamaye is understandably devastated. Things take a darker turn locally with a crime that shocks everyone and riots in the streets. Yamaye meets a man during this time who offers her protection – but it turns out to be part of a criminal gang who steal artifacts and sell them to wealthy white people. Monassa warns Yamaye she can never leave, but when an opportunity presents itself she leaves for Jamaica. There, she finds Moose’s beloved grandmother and starts to make friends until her past catches up with her.

It would be an understatement to say that Fire Rush isn’t the happiest of reads. Jacqueline Crooks mentions at the end of the novel that the story is loosely based on her own life. Yamaye, Moose, Monassa and others all experience a lot of racism and police (’Babylon’) brutality is constantly on their minds, whether they’ve done anything wrong or not. It feels that Yamaye spends a lot of the novel running or hiding from others – she’s followed, intimidated, assaulted physically and emotionally and raped. Sometimes this made it difficult for me to want to pick up the book and continue. There are few bright spots in her life. Initially they were her friends, until an incident forced them to split but the music has always been there for her.

The story is generally pretty dark, and Crooks writes a lot of detail into describing the scenes. (I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the safe house with all the secret corridors and tunnels). The last section in Jamaica was my favourite, offering light and hope. Sometimes I found the first two sections a bit too long and repetitive with some characters that didn’t really play much of a role in the plot or Yamaye’s development.

Music and sound are a huge part of Fire Rush. The story starts in an underground club and finishes with Yamaye listening to the sounds of the rainforest and then dub music. No matter where Yamaye goes, she always takes her records and Walkman, showing how important music is to her. It’s also how she connects with her mother, who disappeared from her life when she was young. It’s how she communicates her feelings, DJing in clubs and socialises with her friends. Music and sound are her constant companions, and probably the closest thing to stability she has. Music lovers will enjoy how entwined the story is with music and letting go.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
  birdsam0610 | Apr 22, 2023 |
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"Set amid the Jamaican diaspora in London at the dawn of 1980s, a mesmerizing story of love, loss, and self-discovery that vibrates with the liberating power of music Yamaye lives for the weekend, when she goes raving with her friends, the "Tombstone Estate gyals," at The Crypt, an underground dub reggae club in their industrial town on the outskirts of London. Raised by her distant father after her mother's disappearance when she was a girl, Yamaye craves the oblivion of sound - a chance to escape into the rhythms of those smoke-filled nights, to discover who she really is in the dance-hall darkness. When Yamaye meets Moose, a soulful carpenter who shares her Jamaican heritage, a path toward a different kind of future seems to open. But then, Babylon rushes in. In a devastating cascade of violence that pits state power against her loved ones and her community, Yamaye loses everything. Friendless and adrift, she embarks on a dramatic journey of transformation that takes her to the Bristol underworld and, finally, to Jamaica, where past and present collide with explosive consequences. The unforgettable story of one young woman's search for home, animated by a ferocity of vision, electrifying music, and the Jamaican spiritual imagination, Fire Rush is a blazing achievement from a brilliant voice in contemporary fiction"--

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