May 23, 2011

I Am Going Where I Belong by Hans Lindor

I Am Going Where I Belong is a gripping journey through the plight of a once wealthy immigrant family.

Hans Lindor was born in Haiti, a turbulent and war torn country, bent on strive, murder, rape all in the name of freedom and democracy.  As a young boy, his life is idyllic, never having left the safe cocoon of his neighbourhood and his family. 

One day, Hans and his brother Junior are driven to the seedier side of town by their chauffeur, who makes the boys swear they will never tell where he has taken them.  Hans notices the stench, the rot and the decay of the streets and its people and vomits.  He doesn't understand how his government could allow people to live like animals.

The following day, he steals ten dollars from his mother's purse and heads to the slums to find a young girl and her baby.  Upon finding them, he gives them his lunch and the money and spends the day with them, learning their story, Hans vows to protect them and do all that he can to help them through this difficult period in their lives, however, before he can live up to those vows, a military coup happens that very night.  Hans' father is killed, his mother is brutally raped and their idyllic life is forever destroyed.  Taking her children to the American Embassy, the three are uprooted and moved to Miami, to live with their grandmother.

Life in the USA is better than Hans is used to, he doesn't have to fear the military storming his house to kill him and his family, he doesn't have to fear what he says, even if its against the government and her leaders.  He feels a freedom he had never felt before and fits into the American dream, against his mothers wishes, she wants to return to her beautiful Haiti, her naivety of the situation, leaves her blind to her countries plight.

However, on numerous occasions Hans is caught up in the American "dream", being shot at and left for dead by being at the wrong place at the wrong time.  His dreams of being a violinist are squashed on numerous occasions as his opportunities to play with the Miami Orchestra are jinxed by bullets.  One time he is left fighting for his life in a hospital, another he is wrongly accused and fights for his life while in prison.  Along the way, Hans has met love and he is blessed with a child, however, the fates continue to through curves at Hans and his life is a series of challenging and difficult emotional bridges to cross.

I found the book to be an extremely easy read, I read it in a couple of hours.  The story of Hans is a sad one, he makes you feel empathy to his people, and to all races upon the planet.  Leaving you wondering how, in this day and age, people can still be so racist, arrogant and murderous.  For all our civility, we are all animals, some of us are able to keep our cages around us and not give into rage, and others give into the beast always lurking at the surface of all people. 

The scenes of his father's death and mothers rape are quite horrific and described in its brutal detail, making the reader feel disgusted for being a human.  Your left shaking your head at the class differences between the people, coming to the conclusion that all animals, when backed into a cage, will come up snarling and snapping and sometimes good people are caught between their crossfires. 

I thought the ending was a bit confusing and had to reread the last few pages to understand, and still, it didn't make sense, it was like a whole chunk of the last few pages was missing or maybe the author felt the book was getting away from him and just wrapped it up too quickly.

I felt the book could have had a bigger impact if the author spent more time with the issues and strife concerning Haiti, however, this wasn't the case and we are left with a wandering jumble of his insights and thoughts about America versus Haiti versus the rest of the world, his religious thoughts and his turmoil in the game of love.  I think this book would make a good book to discuss in book clubs or read on a rainy afternoon, however, there isn't much substance and no real direction.  The author does spend some time on the racial aspects of humanity that were insightful and great for discussion as well, the social system and how it affects each of us.

In turmoil, lives are lost, yet some live on in shambles. "I Am Going Where I Belong" is author Hans Lindor telling the story of Chriscile Leger, a mother of two who is forced out of Haiti after political unrest leads to a coup d'etat. Above all else, Lindor tells a mother's story of living for her children and going through anything and everything to do so. With a unique flare in the writing style, "I Am Going Where I Belong" is a strongly recommended addition to any international memoir collection.

 ** Disclosure: I did not accept any compensation from the sponsors other than review copies, my views are my own, reviewed by I see it~!! **

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