ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN DE MODE SEPTEMBER 2023 (VOL. 1) (VOLUME VI, ISSUE XXXIII)
Article Published on: 15th SEP 2023 | www.demodemagazine.com
"ALIENATION: THE IMITATED LIFE" - BY AUTHOR JAYMA ANNE MONTGOMERY
“One day I will belong.” This was the narrative of my childhood and the mantra that has fueled me through much of my adult life. What happens when you fulfill the so-called American dream only to find yourself feeling more estranged than ever before? AlieNation is my six-volume memoir that is divided into a two-book series. The Imitated Life contains the first three volumes of stories that explore my quest to assimilate my Jamaican heritage with American culture. It further details my struggle to reconcile the Black American racial normative, the complex dynamics of my blended family, and the impossible standards of modern womanhood with a life that proves far more complex than widespread narratives would have you believe. If you sometimes find yourself feeling distant or disconnected from your own life, I hope my stories bring you laughter, healing tears, companionship, and hope along the way. This book is my bold proclamation that belonging, at least in a traditional sense, is overrated. Join me in welcoming categories that embrace nuances rather than pretending they don’t exist.
It is always interesting to see a book with different cultural experiences that are rich in words but also in experiences. Jayma’s account took me on a journey of this little girl that made this very important transition in her life more bearable. Personally, I believe that it is a story of courage and determination. It is a very fast-paced book and the language is so beautifully used. It is a memoir that helps us to think about the experiences of how many people make this journey from a child to an adult that can help many people to make courage since every journey is unique especially when some physical conditions like alopecia are present or miscarriage are experienced. I truly enjoyed seeing all the pictures from her family which made the experience more personal. I highly recommend this book to all non-fiction lovers and truly appreciate the author for her commendable work. - Reviewed in the US by Kimberly Muscat
I loved this book. I connected to so many different things that Jayma wrote about and enjoyed her writing style- it felt like I was transported to an event because it was described so well. - Reviewed in the United States by Lizzie Morse
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JOURNEY OF THE AUTHOR JAYMA ANNE MONTGOMERY
Jayma's life story is one marked by determination and a fervent pursuit of passions. As an Army-trained physician, her journey took her from Jamaica to the United States at the tender age of five, setting the stage for her remarkable trajectory. Her early love for books blossomed in her formative years, gradually evolving into an ardent enthusiasm for penning poetry and short stories during her pre-adolescence.
However, the rigors of academic pursuits, including rigorous undergraduate studies, medical school, and demanding medical career stages like internship and residency, placed her creative aspirations on hold for close to fifteen years. Amid the tumultuous backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and personal trials, Jayma seized a pivotal moment in 2020 to redefine her path. She embarked on a dual-vocational journey, melding her roles as a dedicated medical practitioner and an aspiring writer.
In March of 2022, Jayma's blog "This Woman’s ThoughtLife" emerged as a platform for self-expression and contemplation. Her blog provided an outlet to navigate her inner turmoil, coupled with the external chaos enveloping the world. This endeavor germinated the seeds for her debut literary work, "AlieNation: The Imitated Life."
Despite her medical commitments, Jayma remains steadfast in her pursuit of creative writing. Balancing her medical practice in hospitals and nursing homes with her blossoming writing aspirations showcases her tenacity and dedication. Simultaneously, she is honing her craft through a master's certificate program in Creative Writing, showcasing her commitment to continual growth as an author. In the heart of her narrative lies the inspiring tale of resilience, transformation, and the power of self-expression. Jayma's unwavering decision to reclaim her creative essence amid challenges and adversities highlights her as a beacon of inspiration for those aspiring to balance multiple passions and paths. Her transition from Army-trained physician to author and blogger is a testament to the remarkable capacity of the human spirit to evolve, even amidst the most trying circumstances.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE AUTHOR - www.thiswomansthoughtlife.com
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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW OF AUTHOR JAYMA ANNE MONTGOMERY WITH DE MODE
Q: Your book 'AlieNation: The Imitated Life' explores your journey as a first-generation Jamaican immigrant in America. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this memoir and why you chose to share your story?
A. I drew inspiration from books like The Color of Water and The Joy Luck Club. They blend elements of culture, intergenerational ties, and family drama into a unified tapestry. I aimed to write something similar that would help tether me to my roots and heal from trauma. I write for myself first and hope that it blesses others.
Q: As an Army-trained physician turned blogger and author, what motivated you to transition from the medical field to pursue a career in writing?
A. Practising medicine full-time was not a healthy existence for me physically or psycho-spiritually. I also realized that writing was a two-part gift meant to help me process my own suffering as well as to serve my patients who cannot give voice to their suffering.
Q: 'AlieNation: The Imitated Life' is divided into a two-book series. Can you give us an overview of the themes and experiences covered in the first three volumes contained in this book?
A. Sure. Volume I focuses on the particulars of my assimilation process and racial interactions. Volume II paints a more complete portrait of the dynamics of my family. Volume III deals with some of the challenging aspects of womanhood—miscarriages, poor self-image, alopecia, and mental health.
Q: Your childhood mantra, "One day I will belong," seems to have played a significant role in your life. How has this narrative shaped your journey and perspective as an immigrant in the US?
A. The desire to belong in some way is universal. After all, we are communal creatures. Immigration forces you into a kind of dual existence—should I be Jamaican or American in this moment? I’m just now beginning to live in a place of authenticity, where I have embraced that I belong to both and neither country at the same time.
Q: The book delves into your struggle to reconcile your Jamaican heritage with American culture. How did you navigate this cultural duality?
A. Immigration requires a mixture of courage and desperation. You can’t know if what you might gain is worth all that you will leave behind. Assimilation involves sacrificing key parts of yourself to be accepted by and successful in your new culture. For some of us, it’s worth it and for others, it’s too high a price.
Q: The book also touches upon the impossible standards of modern womanhood. How did you approach discussing these standards and their impact on your life within the memoir?
A. In Western civilization, women are often portrayed as superhuman to make up for the sins of patriarchy. While I am thankful for those who paved the way for me, there is a danger in grooming girls to have unrealistic expectations of themselves. I want my daughter to respect her own limits and not feel like she has to do it all.
Q: Pursuing a master's in creative writing is a commendable endeavor. How do you feel this formal education is enriching your writing style and storytelling abilities?
A. There is no substitute for studying at the feet of masters. The critique groups offer feedback from other passionate writers. Avid readers can recognize that a piece of writing is good, but they can’t always tell you why. The academic setting subdues the ego and opens the mind to receive constructive feedback.
Q: The title of your book, 'AlieNation,' is intriguing. Could you shed some light on the significance of this title and how it encapsulates the essence of your memoir?
A. It’s meant to be read two ways: either as the single word “alienation” or as two words, “alien” and “nation.” This is a story about an alien making her way into a new nation. However, it is also about the ways in which humans knowingly and unknowingly alienate each other from various social groups.
Q: The subtitle of your book mentions "categories that embrace nuances." How do you hope to challenge stereotypes and encourage a more inclusive understanding of cultural and racial identities through your writing?
A. The US is a pluralistic nation filled with people who no longer know how to respectfully disagree. Ethnic origins, hair texture, and skin colour are more complicated realities than political talking points would have you believe. I hope my writing speaks truth to this and lends people the courage to buck against narratives that are not true for them.
Q: As readers embark on the journey through 'AlieNation: The Imitated Life,' what do you ultimately wish them to take away from your memoir series?
A. There are merits and faults to the individualist and collectivist worldviews. Distinguishing the differences between the two is an incredibly useful social tool. I believe that somewhere between these two extremes is how we should aim to live out our lives.