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|Genre||Historical, Young adult novel|
|Publisher||Heinemann (Caribbean Writers Series)|
|Pages||172 pp (paperback)|
|Followed by||In Times Like These|
Beka Lamb is the debut novel from Belizean writer Zee Edgell, published in 1982 as part of the Heinemann Caribbean Writers Series. It won the Fawcett Society Book Prize in 1983 and was one of the first novels from Belize to gain international recognition.
The book deals with social insecurity, racial prejudice and the rule of the conservative church in a small town. Beka's best friend Toycie Qualo is older than she is, being 17 at the time when Beka was 14, and in her last year of school gets herself expelled when she gets into a situation where she becomes pregnant by her boyfriend Emilio Villanueva, and dies after a miscarriage and a short space of time in the local asylum nicknamed "Sea Breeze Hotel". Through flashbacks, points on politics and independence are strongly brought out, since the political struggles for independence in Belize at that time also mirrors Beka's own need for self-rule and her developing maturity. Beka's father (Bill Lamb) cuts down Beka's favorite tree (a bougainvillea) as a sign that the wild ways Beka had picked up must stop at once when she finally tells him that she has failed her exam. Her mother (Lilla Lamb) buys her a special book and pen in which she is told to write any lies or stories that she is tempted to tell, in an effort to curb her tale-telling habit. By the end of the book, Beka has transformed from "a flat-rate Belize creole" to a girl with "high mind", since her troubles have forced her to learn the value of money, education, unity within the community and most of all, some manners and respect. The novel consists of 26 chapters each building up on a certain plot or problem.
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