Wednesday, November 6, 2013

From Rum to Roots: An American Dream in Black Gold and Green

I’m pleased to be a tour stop for From Rum to Roots which is the best book I've read to date this year.

Tour Hashtag: #RumToRoots

In 1937 near Portland Cottage in southern Jamaica, on a huge sugar estate, Linton McMann, the illegitimate son of the owner of the plantation, works making rum.  Meanwhile in Kingston, Daisy helps her mother manage an ice business and dreams of joining her elder sister in New York.

Seeking opportunity, Linton leaves the deep Jamaican countryside for New York and the collapse of the ice business and family crises force Daisy to leave Kingston, seeking a new start in the United States. They encounter a vibrant Jamaican-American community in New York, where they meet at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem.  They become American citizens, marry, and start a family. Ambition drives them to start a business and Linton capitalizes on a skill he learned as a young man in Jamaica, making a drink known in Jamaica as “Roots.”  It proves wildly popular and the company, Family Roots, prospers beyond Linton’s and Daisy’s wildest dreams.

By 1986, the drink is a sensation. Money flows in, but something is missing. Happiness is as scarce as freshwater in the middle of the sea.  Wrestling with their past while living in a land of plenty, Linton and Daisy discover that truth is the only avenue to happiness.

Author Bio
Lloyd G. Francis, Author
Lloyd was born in Oakland in 1961, a first-generation American child to Jamaican parents. As a child his trips to Jamaica in the 60's and 70's shaped who he became. Growing up in Hayward California he was steeped in the island tradition of reggae, Jamaican cuisine, and patois.

After studying engineering, Lloyd became a staff photographer for the San Jose Mercury News. He left newspapers to work for Yahoo Financial News Network and returned to journalism after 9-11. In 2001 Lloyd reported from Iraq for Newsweek Magazine, and went on to cover the war in Afghanistan. In 2004 he accepted a job with the Army Times Publishing Company and worked in Iraq intermittently for two years. Examples of his work can be found 
here and here

Lloyd returned to San Francisco in 2006. He lives with his wife, Leanne, his two sons, Marley and Waylon, a yellow nape Amazon parrot named Aquila and a rambunctious Red Lored Amazon parrot named Cosmo. He frequently takes long walks around San Francisco and Golden Gate Park, looking for great 
Instagram photographs.
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STORYLINE:  Linton McMann, the illegitimate son of a sugar plantation owner and Daisy Wellstead, daughter of a businesswoman start life in Jamaica.

Lincoln battles his resentment over being a shameful family secret, while Daisy goes through a privileged childhood, a horrific experience and a painful marriage.

Eventually, they both pull up roots and move to the United States where they meet and fall in love, but it’s not all wine and roses. Although they’ve put their harsh start in life behind them, Linton and Daisy face challenges and come full circle recognizing the things that are most important in life.

PLAYERS: Linton McMann is acquainted with suffering at an early age. Although he’s part of his father’s life, he isn’t acknowledged as a son and is subjected to his father’s cruelty. Linton is man enough to cut ties with his father and strike out on his own, despite what his father wants him to do. Linton is determined, loves deeply and is a hard worker. He’s also stubborn and capable of being as cruel as his father. Ultimately, he’s an admirable character.

Daisy is a likable individual until she allows her circumstances to change her personality and her vision. She thinks she’s destined for bigger things than her lot in life on the island and has big dreams. She does achieve her goal of getting to the United States and that’s when as Jamaicans would say, Daisy ‘throw stone behind her’. I fell out of love with her based on her treatment of her children left behind in Jamaica and never quite fell in love with her again. By the end of the novel, she does redeem herself. I guess her actions are too much of a reminder of the state of mind of kids who in recent times have been referred to as ‘barrel children’.  

I LIKED: so many things about this novel. The view of Jamaica in the 1930’s is priceless. The writer does a good job of capturing the essence of the time, both on the sugar plantation and the capital city as it was back then.

Jamaica seen through the eyes of the ‘foreigners’ is another treat, so too are the gradual changes that come with the passage of time. My favourite segment of the book is the portion that takes place on the island, although it is also the most painful.

The writer deserves praise for the development of the characters. Although Daisy grows into a woman I don’t like, the writer redeems her somewhat through her actions toward the end of the book. Her husband Linton also proves selfish and turns into his father—a man he hates. Linton does rectify the wrongs done to his son, which is admirable.

I COULD HAVE LIVED WITHOUT: some of the brutal scenes, however, they played their part in helping the reader understand how the main characters evolved into the people they are. I read this book during commute and had to take breaks from it as tears came to my eyes so many times. I felt that deeply for the characters.

 OVERALL COMMENTS: From Rum to Roots is an intriguing, poignant and well-written story. Jamaica provides a wonderful setting, and the culture of the people comes alive on the pages. There are references to many things that I remember from my childhood as well as history lessons.

The message I took away from this book is that our successes in life mean nothing if they come at the expense of our family and our conscience.

COVER NOTE: The cover complements the story and the title ties in neatly with the storyline.

SOURCE: From Rum to Roots was provided by CTC Blog Tours in exchange for a review.


  1. I'm so glad you liked the book! I always love when tour hosts enjoy the books they read for me. Thanks again. :-)

  2. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the book!

  3. Happy to have been part of the tour. Good story. Good writing.


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