The Heart Does Not Bend


264 pages
ISBN 0-679-31134-3
DDC C813'.54




Reviewed by Nanette Morton

Nanette Morton teaches English at McMaster University in Hamilton.


This is a novel about family divisions and family loyalty, and the
terrible price they both exact. The narrator, Molly, spends her early
years in Jamaica in the care of “Mama,” her loving but domineering
grandmother. Molly’s mother, Glory, has left the island to pursue
economic opportunities in Toronto. Though Molly and Mama eventually
reunite with Glory, the separation has left mother and daughter more or
less estranged. The family pattern of separation and estrangement is
repeated when Molly leaves her own daughter with Mama in order to pursue
an education. Like the rest of the family, Molly remains in Mama’s
orbit. When she meets Rose, she is torn between Mama’s exacting (and
sometimes destructive) demands and the freedom her lover represents.

The Heart Does Not Bend has many of the author’s trademark strengths,
including believable dialogue and an ability to render a child’s eye
view of the world. Still, the novel lacks the sustained spark that
characterizes Silvera’s short stories.


Silvera, Makeda., “The Heart Does Not Bend,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 13, 2024,