BROKEN GOURDS

FICTION BY BERESFORD McLEAN

TFG Press, 2002
ISBN: 0-9720017-5-1

In the age of “chick lit,” Broken Gourds is the sort of inspirational folklore that readers probably haven’t seen in quite some time. The story follows a lowly healer whose mission is to empower the oppressed while fostering harmony and hope in a small Jamaican community. This is a story of humanity—the story of its foundation: Love. It is a story of life.
         Wealthy landowners are petitioning the city to modernize the road to Jamaica’s remote village of Albion in the hope of making it more accessible to tourists and commercial developers. As spokesman for the villagers, Victor Rawlings petitions the Port Maria City Council to reconsider the placement of the new road. His reasons are simple: It will destroy historical buildings and diminish the memory of the Balm Yard and the lives it touched.
         Narrator Victor Rawlings wins his first battle and sets up a meeting with city officials. Quietly, he leads them up the dirt road that leads to Balm Yard, the small Jamaican community that until now has withstood the bitter winds of time. Balm Yard was the heart of Albion and consequently the heart of Broken Gourds. It is a place of meditation and healing for those of African ancestry. But the city officials are not convinced. They see only despair, and feel only pity.
         DaDa is a social outcast, the lowly son of a farming family. He’s dirty, lazy, and aimless. He spends his time daydreaming of a future he will never have. His feet are covered with oozing sores and his nose runs constantly. His grandmother alone has love and compassion for DaDa. She senses a spirituality in DaDa that no one else can see. Readers are taken by the hand and lead slowly on a journey of spiritual transformation that touches a man, a village, and ultimately the author himself. Readers cannot help but to be similarly moved.
         With Granny’s help DaDa’s true path becomes clear: He must become a preacher and healer of Albion’s people. As DaDa's ministry and prosperity grows, village leaders become jealous and spiteful. Village leaders react to their loss of power and begin to plot revenge.
        With any story of power—in fiction and in real life—greed and lust find their way into the cracks. Spiritual leaders are not immune. It is not long before DaDa remembers his youthful dreams of owning Albion and he begins to succumb to temptation. He becomes weak. This is a story about healing, triumph, and humanity, but it’s also a story of hate, adultery, corruption, and selfishness born of fear.
        Broken Gourds makes readers face uncomfortable ideas—infidelity, deception, homosexuality, even female genital mutilation. Read it to challenge your convictions.