Out Of The Darkness

A Novel

Young Adult - Social Issues
276 Pages
Reviewed on 12/19/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Jeanne is the author of Mommy, I Need My Wheels, a children’s book about a little boy who is learning to ride a bike without training wheels for the first time, and Out of the Darkness, a YA (crossover) novel about the life of an immigrant teenager from Haiti. Her latest book is Suzette and the One-Eyed Cat, a story about a little girl adopted from Haiti who meets her biological family for the first time.

Today, fueled by a desire to inspire children, young adults, and women, she writes
authoritatively and creatively on issues of social justice to help others cope
with life’s predicaments.

Born and raised in Haiti, Jeanne currently lives in the United States with her
husband and children. She enjoys watching TV, reading, and traveling the world. She is the founder of Learn Haitian Creole / Aprann Kreyòl Ayisyen, a website that provides texts, games, and videos for those interested in learning Haitian Creole.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite

Out of the Darkness: A Novel by Jeanne Fortune is a deep, compelling novel about overcoming hardship for the YA audience. This story is more than just a story of a girl from Haiti adjusting to life in America; it's grounded in social issues too, which lifts it to a higher level of entertainment. Protagonist Cynthia has a lot to deal with in Haiti, family strife. Her forceful father transplanted her from her home country to the US, and she now misses her mother. This is just the beginning of her sorrows. Her father is belligerent and controlling, she has to face heart surgery all alone, as well as homelessness and a toxic relationship with an abusive man. Could life in America get any worse for her? Why was this any better than her familiar surroundings in Haiti? Depression falls on her like a veil. She is stronger than she thinks, though. She has learned a new language, starts college and finds a way to hang on to who she is and what she wants out of life.

What I like about this novel is the character of Cynthia. She is a glowing example of how one not only endures trouble but triumphs over it. Though she is a little stubborn, this is the trait that helps her persevere in the long run. Fortune has a talent for getting you inside Cynthia's life and mindset, causing you to feel as the character feels--so much so that you wonder how you would fare in such situations. She is all alone, and you feel it. But the darkness is balanced nicely with light, and there is a clear message of hope and possibility. Readers are sure to connect with the character's journey, and the story is so immersive and compelling that you just have to know how it turns out. The immigration story is powerful enough on its own. Then you have Cynthia struggling with issues a lot of women struggle with: poor relationships, self-esteem issues, mental health, and an uncertain future. For a satisfying read that would be perfect for classroom conversations or book club discussions, Out of the Darkness: A Novel by Jeanne Fortune is an outstanding title.

Pikasho Deka

Out Of The Darkness by Jeanne Fortune is a slice-of-life novel that follows the life of an immigrant teenager in the United States. Haitian teen Cynthia Josaphet's life turns upside down when her father, Michel, moves her and her siblings, Sheila and Paul, to the United States to the town of Salem, Massachusetts, leaving their mother back in Haiti. Struggling to adjust to a different language and her environment, Cynthia's life is further complicated with the diagnosis of a heart defect and a neglectful father. As she grows up in abject poverty with a string of bad relationships, she gradually falls victim to depression and finds herself homeless with next to nothing to her name. Can she rise back up and fulfill her dreams?

A captivating tale showcasing the resilience of the human spirit, Out Of The Darkness is an inspirational story about a young woman's journey back to life from a pit of despair. Heartbreakingly poignant, Jeanne Fortune's novel perfectly encapsulates the struggles faced by first-generation immigrants in America as they embark on their journeys to achieve the American dream. The book follows a first-person POV-style narrative through the eyes of Cynthia, the main protagonist. You quickly find yourself rooting for Cynthia as she suffers tragedy after tragedy and eventually makes her way out of her harrowing circumstances. The characters seem genuine and authentic. Despite the tragic nature of the narrative, the story ends on an optimistic note. If you're a fan of slice-of-life stories, you'll love Out Of The Darkness.

Vincent Dublado

Out of the Darkness by Jeanne Fortune is an interesting tale about a young Haitian immigrant who comes to America. Cynthia Josaphat is sent to live with her father in Massachusetts in her teen years, along with her two siblings. Her father, Micho, is hard to please and has set impossible standards for his children to the point of being abusive. Aside from navigating through her father issues, Cynthia struggles with learning English and adjusting to her new life in a new country. More problems are about to ensue. A cardiologist confirms that she has a heart defect that needs fixing. With a deceased mother, Cynthia’s relationship with her father continues to deteriorate and she decides to manage her own affairs. She tries to finish school while living with friends and relatives while also holding down a job and dealing with depression.

Out of the Darkness is worth reading for the glimpse it provides of the Haitian immigration experience. This is among the very few coming-of-age novels that profoundly tackle the subject. From a critical standpoint, however, there is a sort of unevenness in the way the period of the setting is conveyed that relies on feelings of longing and regret. The novel is a first-person POV narrated by Cynthia, whose approach to her lot in life is with detachment yet with a gleam of hope that actually materializes in its resolution. The strength of Out of the Darkness is Jeanne Fortune’s style of realism, where motivation is revealed through action. This may be unnecessary on certain occasions, as Fortune delves well enough into the mind of her protagonist but it doesn’t bog down the narrative. Fortune’s immigration tale works and it makes for a powerful coming-of-age story.