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What Start Bad a Mornin'

A Novel

Published by Central Avenue
Distributed by Simon & Schuster


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About The Book

Now in Paperback! Using interwoven narratives — present-day United States, Trinidad, and the political tumult of Jamaica in the 1980s — Carol Mitchell's debut gives voice to the immigrant woman whose veneer of middle-class stability masks the violent trauma of a prior life.

"An engaging and life-affirming read.” — Booklist

"What start bad a mornin', cyan end good a evenin'." — Jamaican proverb

Amaya Lin has few memories of the years before she turned eighteen. Now in her forties, she has compensated by carefully cultivating a satisfying life as a wife, mother, and business professional. Her husband’s law practice is on the brink of major success; her neurodiverse son has grown into an independent adult; and she has come to terms with her aunt’s dementia. This sense of order is disrupted, however, when she encounters a stranger who claims to have an impossible connection, launching Amaya on a tumultuous journey into the past.

Using three interwoven narratives spanning the United States, Trinidad, and Jamaica, Carol Mitchell's debut gives voice to an immigrant woman forced to confront her repressed memories of violent trauma. Only then can she discover what she is capable of when it comes to self-preservation and the protection of her family.

"This is a stellar debut.” — Cleyvis Natera, author of Neruda on the Park
"Luminous prose." —Elizabeth Nunez, author of Prospero’s Daughter

About The Author

Carol Mitchell describes herself (in jest) as being in self-imposed exile from her Caribbean home. She holds an MFA and teaches writing in Virginia. She is also a fellow of the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Her short stories have appeared in various Caribbean journals and four of them have been long-listed for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. She has written 18 children’s books. What Start Bad a Mornin' is her debut adult novel.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Central Avenue (July 9, 2024)
  • Length: 264 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781771683838

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Raves and Reviews

"Mitchell’s ability to sustain tension while telling a nuanced story that balances family tragedy with a vision of acceptance and support makes this an engaging and life-affirming read." — Booklist

What Start Bad a Mornin’ is a breathtaking novel. Amaya Lin, loving mother, wife and caretaker of many, has built a life that is on the verge of collapse when a hidden past sweeps in. I was riveted by the revelations that followed, stunned by the conclusion. Carol Mitchell is a writer of immense talent and this is a stellar debut.” — Cleyvis Natera, author of Neruda on the Park

"This kaleidoscopic take on immigration woes provides an inclusive, thoughtful view of what it means to be a migrant. With both style and panache, Mitchell slowly unfolds the secrets of Amaya’s past intimating us, as readers, into her experiences.” —Tupelo Quarterly

"Illustrates the far-reaching power—and damage—of forgetting." — Foreword Reviews

"With luminous prose, Carol Mitchell tells the story of every Caribbean immigrant, indeed any immigrant, who has had to remake a life they have known in their homeland for the uncertainties in the US where race is often the determinant for success. What Start Bad a Mornin’ leaves the reader with empathy for the passions that drive the ambitions of the vividly-drawn characters, and, at the same time, it is a cautionary tale about the consequences of repressing childhood trauma. A compelling debut novel." — Elizabeth Nunez, author of Prospero’s Daughter and Now Lila Knows

"What Start Bad A Mornin’ is a tense, gripping tale of a woman's unwilling spiral into her own locked past. As her protective layers of amnesia are inexorably stripped away, the pillars of her life tilt, crack and crumble, forcing her to question everything she believes about herself as she scavenges for the truth: What is real? What is mirage? Amaya's journey of self-discovery takes her thousands of miles, real and newly recollected, from her ordered existence in Virginia, USA to the Caribbean island of Trinidad where she lived as a student and met the man who would become her husband, and finally to Jamaica, her birthplace, where the threads of a turbulent political and personal history intersect and converge in a tapestry as violent as it is revelatory." — Charmaine Rousseau, Author

"One sentence spoken by a stranger becomes the thread that unlocks decades-old memories for Amaya, who has been living as if her past never existed. Carol Mitchell's debut adult novel is brilliant storytelling that deftly weaves a tale of cross-cultural Caribbean life, trauma and survival. I couldn't put it down." — Nerissa Golden, author of Ordained for This and In Plain Sight

"With What Start Bad a Mornin’, Carol Mitchell casts light on immigration’s most unsettling predicament: the tension between the life you leave and the one you create. In vibrant prose, she demonstrates how an unacknowledged past will never die, as well as the power – and cost – that comes in surviving it." — Courtney Angela Brkic, author and memoirist

“In carefully measured spoons, Carol reveals the details of Amaya’s life, keeping our interest piqued, holding our attention until the very surprising ending. Richly characterized, mystery and intrigue, buried memories and glaring revelations, this story of family, displacement, loss, and immigration keeps you eager to get to the next page.” — Opal Palmer Adisa, The Storyteller’s Return

"What Start Bad a Mornin’ grapples with themes ranging from quiet domestic desperation to the perils of the immigrant experience, from latent racism to the literal violence of politics. The character dynamics are complex and interesting; the entanglements sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes heartwarming, sometimes frustrating, sometimes cosy, all the beats of genuine human interaction. A compelling, meditative, and well-paced journey.” — Joanne C. Hillhouse, Writer

"Carol Mitchell’s novel, What Start Bad a Mornin', is sublime and intensely compassionate. This debut is uncompromisingly Caribbean; yet, it sings of the America into whose arms immigrants collapse with the intention of rising above the selves they once were. Mitchell’s complex characters are enmeshed in an intricate web of classism, racism, colorism, and nationalism—sometimes under the same roof. The intangible and unnamable elements of one’s abandoned home follow these hopeful immigrants wherever the future finds them. This is a story of grief as characters sow seeds and must forsake the harvest. This is also a story of triumph. Each sentence is carefully crafted, polished, and captivating. What Start Bad a Mornin' is glorious and downright unforgettable. Mitchell’s craftsmanship is astounding. This is a book you’ll want to read more than once." — Katia D. Ulysse, author of Mouths Don't Speak

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