Title: Lineage: A History in Faith
Author: Michelle Thompson
Lineage is an intricate walk through a historical perspective of Jamaican politics, the Adamson family tree, and how these worlds collide.
In post-emancipation Jamaica, The Lion was raised with the expectation that he would become a field worker, but he wanted more for himself. With little more than a secondary education and despite many significant roadblocks, the industrious young man found unusual methods to accomplish his ultimate goal of serving his beloved country. He went on to become mayor of a small inland parish and eventually served as a Minister of Parliament for more than thirty years.
While the Lion was masterful at politics, his dedication came at the expense of his marriage and the welfare of his five children, each of whom suffered neglect and struggled to live up to his illustrious and unbesmirched reputation. Ultimately, repercussions of the Cold War and the family’s position on the island caused the emmigration of the entire clan, leaving The Lion alone on the island.
The children of the Lion endeavored to make the United States their home. The progeny faltered for many reasons, primarily because they were no longer an illustrious family on a small island. Here, they were insignificant, despite their contributions to SNCC and Stokley Carmichael. They clung to their sanity, moral compasses, each other, and the God of their forefathers, while moving as a unit across the United States.
Jeddah, one of the Lion’s many grandchildren, became entangled in the fallout of the family’s dysfunction to a greater degree than all the others. In addition to the Lion’s ancestry, she had to contend with her paternal family’s history: that of a lawless Welsh-Jamaican father and his criminal family. To whom she was returned and narrowly escaped from only to find herself entangled in INS and the FBI. In addition to a history, Lineage is an examination of whether the sins of the father are indeed visited on the children.
Lineage follows Jamaican politics and history, a Jamaican family, and Jeddah. It begins with the Lion’s illustrious funeral, spanning a century and moving back and forth through a history marred by tribulations, immigration, and sacrifice. The book follows a nomadic, immigrant life across three states, and Jamaica. It is a unique look at an island that is typically only seen through the lens of tourism, resorts, and Bob Marley.
An incredibly powerful book that exposes the facts about one clan from the early 20th century through into the 21st century. Harrowing at times, Lineage grips the reader. But for the grace of God, did many not have to go through what the Lion's clan did *and possibly still does*. The person I resonated with immediately was Jeddah. She has lived a life that reminds me of the philosophy of the Protestant Work Ethic. She goes through hell on earth to be awarded in Heaven afterward. The fact that Jeddah survived in some form of normalcy is a tribute to the strength of the human spirit.
The non-linear timeline approach makes it a bit difficult for a reader to follow along. There is such a key to the chronological that Jeddah's story gets a tiny bit muddied by moving forward and back. There are very few characters here who show positivity. The truth here is that an atmosphere of abuse creates a steady cycle of abuse going on and on. That anyone could get out of it somewhat unscathed is a miracle. Lineage shines a brilliant light on Jamaica and Jamaican societal woes. The use of Patois authenticates many of the passages. A must-read for fans of the Mommy Dearest kind of story. A harrowing work that reads like a family history and a memoir at the same time. The author should be commended for having the courage to write this book.
Trigger warning: Child abuse, sexual abuse, eating disorders, bullying. If any of this is an issue for you, please be warned.
My Rating: 5 stars
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Michelle Thompson was born in Jamaica, the favored granddaughter of a prominent Jamaican political family and daughter of a Jamaican criminal miscreant. Along with her extended family, she immigrated to the United States during the Cold War upheaval on the island. Ms. Thompson holds post-graduate degrees in Marketing and Human Resource Management and is the CEO of a successful business. Ms. Thompson is a freelance non-profit grant writer. She has founded four successful companies: Rinat Mouzafarov Ballet Company, Boston Music Institute (BMI), Sansfluoro, Inc., and the Jireh Foundation. She was recently nominated for a 2020 Inspire Award in the field of philanthropy. Above all, Ms. Thompson is a wife, mother, and daughter. Ms. Thompson home-schooled both of daughters, which she counts as her greatest accomplishment. Her lovable dog Maximus and horse, Majestic Warrior, are constant companions and her best friends. Lineage: A History in Faith is her first memoir.
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Reviewed by: Mr. N