Photo by Cola Greenhill-Casados
You'd be forgiven for thinking Jonathan Escoffery's 2022 debut, If I Survive You, is a memoir. Throughout much of the book, the author, who was raised in Miami by Jamaican parents, uses second-person narration to tell the story of Trelawny, a Jamaican-American boy growing up in Miami in the '90s and coming of age in the post-recession aughts. ("On the day you are scheduled to begin the sixth grade, a hurricane named Andrew pops your house's roof open.... Nor do you share your concern that in Miami, great city of cons, you're as likely to wind up getting your organs harvested as you are to make a profit here.") The book, a compilation of eight related short stories, reads like a novel, telling a continuous story while jumping back and forth in time and closing with Trelawny scrapping to buy his father's sinking home in Cutler Ridge. It's a fairy-tale ending fit for Miami and what Trelawny describes as the Magic City's "aroma of promise": that at any time, "you are a single lucky break from becoming one of the haves."