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What A Mother's Love Don't Teach You

'An outstanding debut' Cherie Jones
  • Author
    • Sharma Taylor
Regular price £9.99
Regular price Sale price £9.99
'AN OUTSTANDING DEBUT' CHERIE JONES, author of How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps her House

'VIVID AND AUTHENTIC' LEONE ROSS, author of This One Sky Day

At eighteen years old, Dinah gave away her baby son to the rich couple she worked for before they left Jamaica. They never returned. She never forgot him.

Eighteen years later, a young man comes from the US to Kingston. From the moment she sees him, Dinah never doubts - this is her son.

What happens next will make everyone question what they know and where they belong.

A powerful story of belonging, identity and inheritance, What a Mother's Love Don't Teach You brings together a blazing chorus of voices to evoke Jamaica's ghetto, dance halls, criminal underworld and corrupt politics, at the beating heart of which is a mother's unshakeable love for her son.



'A GRIPPING PAGE-TURNER' CAMILLE HERNÁNDEZ-RAMDWAR, author of Suite as Sugar and Other Stories

'AN EXCITING READ' YEWANDE OMOTOSO, author of An Unusual Grief

'A WONDERFUL DEBUT NOVEL' GILLIAN ROYES, author of the Shad series


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  • Published: May 04 2023
  • 196 x 126mm
  • ISBN: 9780349015545
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Press Reviews

  • Yewande Omotoso, author of The Woman Next Door
    A sharp polyphonous story in which Taylor skillfully moves the reader through a world pulsing with pain, love, power, violence and tenderness. We are reminded of that tension between where we come from and what we gravitate towards, what steers us and why. An exciting read.
  • Leone Ross, author of This One Sky Day
    Truth-telling! Taylor's debut is tender, violent and uncompromising in turns. A vivid and authentic Jamaica that tells a tale too often hidden, for fantasies of sun, sea and sand.
  • Cherie Jones, author of How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House
    Pulses with the colour and cadence of Jamaican culture in a multi-layered story told with empathy and intelligence. It is both an elegy of great elegance and a testament to the resilience and optimism of Jamaican people. Sharma's skilled storytelling drew me into the heads and hearts of the residents of Jacks Hill and Lazarus Gardens and did not let me go. I'll never forget this cast of characters or the voice of this accomplished writer - an outstanding debut.
  • Gillian Royes. author of the Shad series
    Taylor portrays a complex web of Jamaican characters in settings ranging from tenement yards to mansions with an authenticity that radiates throughout the novel. Set in an important time in the island's history, it's a colourful portrayal of a young man searching for his soul, the two mothers desperate to claim him, and the ultimate sacrifice one has to make. A wonderful debut novel.
  • Jacob Ross, author of The Bone Readers
    Takes us on a wonderful multifaceted journey through the lives, loves, pleasures and atrocities of the folks of Lazarus Gardens and Jacks Hill. There is an impressive choral quality to What a Mother's Love Don't Teach You, with voices that shift with remarkable ease and seamlessness, between lyricism, humour and rawness. A very impressive achievement.
  • Celeste Mohammed, author of Pleasantview
    In the opening chapter of What A Mother's Love Don't Teach You, Dinah describes her home, the tenement yard at Lazarus Gardens, as a place where, "is like everyday, the water have to decide if to come inside." In essence, the novel is about just that: choices. Written in alternating voices - sometimes Jamaican patois, sometimes Standard English - Sharma Taylor reveals how and why the choices of the denizens of Lazarus Gardens necessarily differ from the choices of Jamaica's uptown folk. Taylor's great accomplishment is how she captures the darkness of the ghetto while never dimming the vivacity, determination and exuberance displayed by its people. This is a thrilling read.
  • Curdella Forbes, author of A Tall History of Sugar
    An astonishing book. In riveting, irresistible prose, Sharma Taylor's genre-crossing novel (a love story, a crime story, a yard fiction) tells a tale of Jamaica and America, of class, colour, race, history and the dignity of the dispossessed. The authenticity of its detail produces a searing truth that convicts us. The largeness of its vision challenges our ideas of what it means to be human.
  • Jacqueline Crooks
    A beautifully crafted debut, rich with rhythmic, lyrical patois and surprising revelations
  • Mick Kitson, author of Sal
    I was knocked out by this novel. It's a fantastic, enthralling story of clashing cultures: very funny and then utterly heartbreaking. The vibrant and terrifying world of Kingston in the eighties is totally gripping and the dialogue is so alive that I find it hard to believe it's a first novel
  • Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of The Mercies
    A cacophonic, alive, heart-breaking story of a particular place and time, made universal by its truths and wisdom about love.
  • Lisa Allen-Agostini, author of the Woman's Prize longlisted The Bread the Devil Knead
    An arresting first novel. As if to nod to the Jamaican national motto "Out of Many One People," Taylor's novel gives voice to multiple perspectives on how class, race and gender are lived in this "exotic" Caribbean island and at what cost to human relationships.
  • Rob Doyle, author of Threshold
    Sharma Taylor's live-wire debut is a crackling, earthy and colourful social realist polyphony that brings to life the bullet-strewn Jamaica of the 1980s.
  • Erna Brodber, author of Nothing's Mat
    Sharma Taylor's What a Mother's Love Don't Teach You explores essential aspects of Jamaica's Social Psychological Environment which Marlon James's A Brief History of Seven Killings leaves unpainted. In short, these two works could usefully be read together. May Sharma's work meet the kind of success that Marlon's work has.
  • Karen Lord, author of Redemption in Indigo
    Warm, wise, unflinching. Taylor's skill with character and voice shines in this immersive story of living and loving under the shadow of betrayal.
  • Diana McCaulay, author of Daylight Come
    Sharma Taylor's accomplished debut novel transports the reader from the rarefied air of Kingston's Jacks Hill to the gritty reality of inner city Lazarus Gardens. Told by an unforgettable cast of characters, each speaking searing truths of their own Jamaica, these compelling voices will linger long after the last page. What a Mother's Love Don't Teach You is a fine achievement.
  • Esther Phillips, Poet Laureate of Barbados
    Sharma Taylor writes in extra high definition: colour, language, landscape and atmosphere. But it is her laser-like, yet careful study of the inner thoughts and emotions of her characters that fascinates. An astonishing first novel.
  • Stella Duffy, author of Lullaby Beach
    This forceful novel offers a collision of pasts and present, mothers and sons and lovers, offered up in language that eloquently highlights our divisions and the (rare) possibilities of true connection. This is a character-led novel where pace is as important as tone and place comes singing off the page. Somehow Taylor has managed to create a work that is polyphony and cacophony and gloriously, simultaneously, symphony.
  • Robert Edison Sandiford, author of And Sometimes They Fly
    Voices are strong, resilient and compelling, right from the start, with sharp, vivid imagery. An ambitious novel about the Caribbean in the eighties, but also well before then and even now. What kind of Jamaica have we made, what may we yet inherit?
  • Nigel Thomas, author of Spirits in the Dark
    This novel, a page-turner in every way, is skilfully plotted and brilliantly written. Taylor's unforgettable characters, vivid portrayal of human ruthlessness counterpoised with communal solidarity and generosity, and deft use of the Jamaican vernacular are some of the many striking features of this superb novel.
  • Roland Watson-Grant, author of Sketcher
    Echoes the dilemma of having to give up home and family to find hope elsewhere. Precious things wagered in pursuit of better might never be regained. Taylor's intimate portrayals of this dissonance is communicated through authentic voices full of universal truth, love and forgiveness.
  • Claire Adam, author of the Desmond Elliot Prize-winning Golden Child
    Imagine yourself on your front porch with your neighbour, in the cool of the afternoon when all your housework is done; get yourself a little coconut water and allow Sharma Taylor to tell you about all the goings-on of this neighbourhood of Kingston. Girl, if you see drama! Drama, girl! ! And this being the Caribbean, nobody's going to walk on by when they hear a good story being told, and before you know it, you have the whole cast of characters on the porch with you, everyone clamouring to tell their side of the story - the Jamaican dialogue in this novel is a particular strength. As one of the characters proclaims, about a particularly good spliff: "Is de real stuff, dis, my yute!" Rich and exuberant.
  • Ronald A. Williams, author of A Death in Panama
    Sharma Taylor's debut novel What A Mother's Love Don't Teach You is a brilliant examination of lives in Jamaica. Taylor writes powerfully about those lives, trapped in often distressing social circumstances, with wit and a searingly analytical eye. Always, though, her empathy with the characters comes through, so the reader is ensnared by her artistry and is willing to seek to understand each character, no matter how superficially evil. The true power of the work comes from its thorough grounding in the Jamaican experience, the cascade of similes that enlighten and the descriptions of the physical landscapes. All of these combine to create an impression on the reader that is not only visual but profoundly emotional. An extraordinary first novel
    Jamaican literature has a future. Her name is Sharma Taylor.
  • Shivanee Ramlochan, award-winning editor and poet, author of Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting (shortlisted in 2018 for the Forward Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection)
    What a Mother's Love Don't Teach You is both heartbreaking and illuminating . . . Sharma's voice is vital and necessary
  • Caribbean Beat
    As Sharma Taylor's debut proves with fevered intensity, some threads remain unbreakable despite the cruel vicissitudes of fate. Guiding her novel with a tension-laced economy, Taylor offers a prismatic cast of figures swirling around Dinah and her estranged son. In the voices of gang leaders and snake-tongued statesmen, redoubtable matriarchs and kiss-teeth gossips, the multiple worlds of 1980s Jamaica soar to life, vividly and dramatically realised. What a Mother's Love Don't Teach You joins a formidable contemporary canon that refuses to portray the Caribbean as idyllic pastiche. It's a tender triumph