Feb 4, 2013
Abby Davis

Book Review – She’s Gone

By Abby Davis

“Once upon a time…happily ever after” fairytale romances rarely occur in real life.  There are always complications; life is not perfect.  She’s Gone seems to be driving these points home.  This novel starts out seeming like perhaps the main characters, Kofi and Keisha, will fall in love and everything will go perfectly.  After delving a bit farther into the book, however, the audience realizes that this will not at all be the case.  Their romance, which seems to be a parallel for life as a whole, is tumultuous and wrought with deceit, heartache, miscommunication, and tragedy.

This absurd love story is far from typical, and so is the writing style. The author, Kwame Dawes, tells this cross-cultural romance beautifully.  His words leap from the page to form images of both South Carolina and Jamaica, the two main settings of the novel.  His sentences mesh together rhythmically and some passages read like song lyrics.  It is no surprise that Dawes also writes poetry and was Distinguished Poet in Residence at the University of South Carolina where he taught from 1992-2012.

Dawes lived in Ghana, Jamaica, and South Carolina and all three of these places are featured in his novel.  The story includes some background in Ghana, but primarily takes place in Jamaica and South Carolina.  Kofi and Keisha meet in Columbia, South Carolina where Keisha was working for the University of South Carolina.  Their romance later takes them to Jamaica where Dawes brilliantly captures the Jamaican dialect in his writing as well as the nation’s vibrant culture.

Differences between cultures, skin colors, and countries are a central topic in the novel and South Carolina and Jamaica are often compared and contrasted.  Some of these differences prove to be part of the many problems with Kofi and Keisha’s relationship. Their romance is far from perfect; Dawes presents many harsh truths of the world and the story can be very heavy, intense, and vulgar.  His magical writing and the incredible insight he provides into different cultures, however, make it well worth the read.