Belize: Past and Present

I am pleased to see that there is great literature all over the world. Literature changes the world in many ways. Authors are risking their own lives to take a stand for and against something. When it was time to find a book set in Belize, I was taken by surprise how hard it was to find Belizean literature. The official language is English, the ongoing dispute between Belize and Guatemala, as well as Belize being a part of the British empire (1862-1981) created in my mind endless shelves filled with books, but reality turned out to be the opposite.

Zee Edgell’s In Times Like These however fits the bill. The protagonist, Pavana, returns after years of living abroad to her homeland of Belize, together with her twins, a son and a daughter. Their father is living in Belize, unaware of having children. He is strongly involved in politics, a well-known public figure in the government.  

It’s a turbulent time in Belize, and the main themes in the story are the territorial dispute between Guatemala and Belize, the stirr it causes in Belize, as well as Pavana’s private crises regarding both her professional and personal life.

Pavana has to deal with the ghosts from her past upon her arrival in Belize. A lot has happened since her student days in Belize. She will let her children know who their father is, as well as let their father know that he has twins. Another person from her past stirs up both her personal life, as well as the politics in Belize, and becomes the nemesis of everyone else in the book. The real action in the book is at the very end, and everything seems to happen fast and violently, like it usually does during uproars.

The story reminds me of the film The Way We Were. There are many general similarities to Robert Redford’s and Barbra Streisand’s characters on a general level. There is, or at least was, love, politics, and both stories are told partly in flashbacks. In Times like These gives a bit of an insight what life in Belize was like in these politically turbulent times.

It was intriguing to read about life in Belize and its compelling political history. However I felt like the story could have moved along faster at times, and that the characters were a bit stereotypical. I did not feel a connection with Pavana even though she had lead an exciting life, yet she hadn’t really found herself, which usually makes characters in books likeable but also humble.

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