A Reason for Living Book Review & Book Tour Giveaway

Today, I am excited to share my review of a historical fiction novel set in 1960's Jamaica.  Read my thoughts on this book, learn about the author & enter for a chance to win a prize in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post.

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Book Title A Reason for Living by Julian Jingles
Category Adult Fiction (18 +),  372 pages
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Publisher URLink Print & Media
Release date:  November 2019
Content Rating R: There are explicit sex scenes, violence, bad language.
"Julian Jingles was a teenager living in Kingston, Jamaica during the 1960s when he started writing a book he eventually titled A Reason For Living. Drawing from eye-witness incidents he experienced living in the hub of the Caribbean’s most progressive nation, the ambitious youth documented his island’s social, political and economic frailties and masked his observations by penning a fictitious novel which spotlights the Rastafarian movement, the Black Power and Civil Rights movements in the USA and corruption on the tiny island" Writes Caribbean Life about Julian Jingle's novel A Reason for Living.

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About the Book

It is the mid-1960s in Kingston, Jamaica, and the country is steeped in social, political, and economic inequities. Howard Baxter, the heir to a real estate empire, has no interest in seeking or managing wealth. Painting and deflowering Jamaican maidens are his passions. As he combs the streets looking for greater meaning in his pathetic life, it soon becomes apparent that Howard’s journey will not be easy. Bernaldo Lloyd, a member of the Baxter clan, is a medical student who is sensitive to the hopelessness of the Jamaican masses. Inspired by his close friend and Howard’s cousin, Ras Robin Pone, and their ties with the Rastafari movement that calls for social and economic equity, Bernaldo is determined to overthrow the corrupt government.

As Howard, Bernaldo and Robin becomes influenced by The American Black Power and Civil Rights movements demanding equal rights for African Americans, the women in their lives both love and criticize them. But when revolution breaks out, Howard finally discovers a purpose for his twisted life that leads him in a direction he never anticipated. In this tale of love, passion, and self-discovery, three Jamaican men become caught up in the 1960s the revolution that reveals injustices, oppression, and a purpose for one of them.

My Review

A Reason for Living Shines Light on a Place and Time That I Had Never Seen. The author immediately transported me into a time and place that was unfamiliar--and honestly--dark and dismal. It took some time to become familiar enough with the setting and the historical context of this novel to fall into sync with the author's writing style, the storyline, and his characters. Once I came to terms with the struggles and political oppression facing the country--the motives and actions of his characters and tone of the storyline became very real, and it became easier to empathize (or to at least understand) more of the scenes of the novel. The poverty and culture of Jamaica as it was in the 1960's is very different than the image many younger readers hold today. The author creates very clear visuals for readers as the novel develops.  

A Reason for Living is Difficult to Read--Yet Difficult to Put Down. The author's writing style is very detailed and precise. While the words are not difficult to read nor understand--the images that the author creates in the reader's mind with his setting, dialogue and plot and character development make the novel very real--as it was--and may be difficult for readers to experience with the characters. While the story was unsettling at times--it became effortless to become drawn to the characters and their struggles. While I didn't necessarily "like" any of the characters--I found myself emotionally attached to their journeys.  

Would I recommend A Reason for Living by Julian Jingles?  A Reason for Living is certainly an R-rated novel--but one based in historical reality. The author does a remarkable job transporting readers emotionally into a very dark place and time as his characters seek to find and create something better for themselves and their world. It did take a while for me to settle into the story--but, once I settled in--I needed to follow the characters' stories through to the end. I would recommend it to fans of darker, realistic, historical fiction focused on struggle and oppression--who are not opposed to sharp, sexual storylines.

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Meet the Author

Raymond Arthur Julian Reynolds aka Julian Jingles, is a writer, filmmaker, and entrepreneur and operates in New York, USA, and Jamaica, W.I. He began his writing career in 1966 at 16 years old, writing A Reason For Living about a family caught up in a revolution in Jamaica in the mid-1960s. It was written in three drafts and completed in 1968.

He pursued a career in journalism at the Gleaner Company in Kingston, Jamaica writing extensively on the Jamaican music industry, cultural, and social issues. At age 22 he was a columnist writing Merry Go Round, and In the Saddle for the Gleaner, and Record Shop for the Star. He has published several articles, short stories, and essays in Swing, and Cooyah, magazines, the Abeng, and Public Opinion newspapers, in Jamaica.

He immigrated to the United States in 1972 to write two screenplays, “Half Breed,” and “One Way Out.” In New York, he has written for the New York Amsterdam News, the Jamaica Weekly Gleaner (NA), Everybody’s magazine, JET, the Daily Challenge, the New York Daily News, the Carib News, and as a foreign correspondent for the Gleaner in Jamaica. He developed an interest in film and television production, and received training in scriptwriting, film, theater, and television directing and production, with the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and wrote and produced three documentary films, “Jamaican Gun Court” (1974), “It All Started With The Drums” (1987), and “Jammin' In Jamaica--With The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari” (1996), and directed the latter two. He has also worked as production manager on several music videos with performers such as Kool & the Gang, the Manhattans, and Steel Pulse.

Between 1998 to 2018 he contributed frequently to the In Focus section of the Jamaica Sunday Gleaner, writing on socio-economic and cultural issues. He has been an entrepreneur as he pursues his literary career, involved in business consultancy with the National Minority Business Council in New York, and the importing, exporting and distribution of agro-products between Jamaica and the United States, and have produced several music concerts and stage plays in New York, and Kingston.

He was married in 1972 to Charmaine Jasmine, who is deceased. He has three children, 11 grandchildren, and one great-grand, and continues living in New York, and Jamaica.

Connect with the Author:      Website

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