20 April 2022
The book, "In Their Own Write," gives readers an intimate view of the dreams, visions, fears and friendships of 15 young people in the Cayman Islands.
The book is a collaboration between the Cayman Islands Library Service, Christian Lifestyle Magazine Publishing and Friends of the Library, a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting literacy.
The 15 short stories contained in the book were written by students between the ages of 12 and 17 who took part in the Young Writers’ Competition in 2021.
Readers are taken into different worlds, some reflecting the lives of Cayman's contemporary young people, while other stories explore different times and different cultures. The standard of writing throughout the book is consistently so high, it must have been difficult deciding upon an overall winner, but in the end 15-year-old Jelani Hanson took the $1,000 dollar prize for his atmospheric short story, “Adelaide.”
The story takes the reader on a train ride through the dark tunnel of jumbled, drink-fueled memories surrounding Adelaide, the wife of the narrator. Each detail taunts and haunts readers, who are not sure if they are in real time or a series of flashbacks. Jazz music floating through the luxury train, vintage whisky and the fawning ministrations of the attendant waiter, all paint a vision of sophisticated decadence gone to seed. As the train reaches its destination, ambiguity creeps in. Is Adelaide really there? Is she going to eat her Polynesian braised pork salad, or is the waiter going to have to pretend everything is fine as he takes away the full plate?
"Goodbye Martha," by 13-year-old Cailyn Chambers, explores the theme of sudden success cutting in on a close, long-time friendship of two girls, Martha and Joanna. Martha’s dream of being an actress looks to be coming true as she lands a role in a big production and must leave immediately. What should be a source of happiness is tinged with sadness as the two girls pledge forever-friendship, yet readers can sense that their paths have diverged, and their friendship will never be the same.
"When the War is Over," by 13-year-old Abrainn Cooper, is set in England a century ago. As the misery of World War I officially comes to an end with the signing of the Armistice, a new war, this time in the hearts and minds of a well-to-do English family, takes on a life of its own. They are shattered, not by the loss of life, but by the loss of lifestyle, and decide to take matters into their own hands to make things right. But in so doing, they make things much worse, causing their imagined tragedy to turn real. This brilliant story is just one of many gems in the book, which can be purchased at Next Chapter in Camana Bay.
This article was originally featured in the April 2022 print edition of Camana Bay Times.