Sweetness in the Skin

A Novel

by Ishi Robinson

On Sale: 04/23/2024

Sweetness in the Skin

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Sweetness in the Skin

A Novel

by Ishi Robinson

On Sale: 04/23/2024


About the Book

A delicious debut novel about a young Jamaican girl who tries to bake her way to a better life in France.

Pumkin Patterson lives in a tiny two-room house in Kingston, Jamaica, with her grandmother, who wants to improve the family’s social standing; her Aunt Sophie, who wants to take Pumkin with her to a new life in Paris; and her mother, Paulette, who wants to keep her at home out of spite.

When Aunt Sophie decides to move to France for work, she promises to send for her niece in one year’s time. All Pumkin has to do is pass her French entrance exam so she can attend school there. But when Pumkin’s grandmother dies—the household’s fortunes take a turn for the worse.

Somehow, Pumkin must find a way to raise the money to take her French exam. In a moment of ingenuity, she decides to turn her passion for baking into a true business. Selling batches of sweet-potato pudding, coconut drops and chocolate cakes, Pumkin begins raising the money she needs. But when her mother finds out that Pumkin wants to leave, she does all she can to sabotage her daughter’s plans.

Sweetness in the Skin is a funny and heartbreaking story about a young girl figuring out who she is, what she is capable of—and where she truly belongs.

Critical Praise

“This triumphant and emotional debut from Robinson is recommended for readers who enjoyed Charmaine Wilkerson’s Black Cake or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing.” — Library Journal (starred review)

“Robinson’s debut explores a variety of themes, including colorism, generational trauma, class, and ambition, through the eyes of plucky Pumkin, who is wise beyond her years. Her struggles are authentic, as are the friendships she develops with the people who help her along the way. Readers who were moved by Abi Daré’s The Girl with the Louding Voice will be inspired by Pumkin’s journey.” — Booklist (starred review)

“Ishi Robinson has written a delightful story set in Jamaica, amid heartbreak, hopefulness, and mirth. This tender, humorous, coming-of-age tale celebrates the flavors and language of Jamaica while unveiling the impact of colorism and class divisions on one family. I found myself rooting for clever, vulnerable Pumkin as she reached for her dreams and yearned for acceptance.” — Charmaine Wilkerson, New York Times bestselling author of Black Cake

Sweetness in the Skin is a tender exploration of familial love, both the family you’re born to, and the one you find along the way. Robinson has written a treatise on the effects of colorism and class divisions that is heartbreaking and raw, yet joyful. This vivid story transported me to Pumkin’s world through an excursion of the senses, the sights, the sounds, and especially the tastes of Jamaica, leaving me yearning to return.” — Charlene Carr, author of We Rip the World Apart

“Sweetness in the Skin is a celebration of the Caribbean – our food, our language, and our people. I read this book with my heart in my mouth, hoping all of Pumkin’s dreams would come true.”  — Breanne Mc Ivor, author of The God of Good Looks

“Emotionally transportive. A story so rich and resonant I never wanted it to end. Pumkin Patterson has my heart as one of the most authentic and original voices I've ever met in the pages of a book. I loved her.”  — Julietta Henderson, author of The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman

“Vibrant, affecting and joyfully uplifting. I felt completely transported, and was cheering Pumkin along every step of the way!”  — Lucy Diamond, author of The Best Days of Our Lives


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9781443471107
  • ISBN 10: 1443471100
  • Imprint: HarperAvenue
  • On Sale: 04/23/2024
  • Pages: 368
  • List Price:25.99 CAD
  • BISAC1 : FICTION / Coming of Age
  • BISAC2 : FICTION / Family Life
  • BISAC3 : FICTION / World Literature / Caribbean & West Indies

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