Literature: The Rami Johnson Trilogy
The Rami Johnson
trilogy is a series of books written by Jamaican author C. Everard Palmer and published by Macmillan Caribbean Publishers. The first book, My Father, Sun-Sun Johnson
, was published in 1984, followed by Full Circle: The Rami Johnson Story
in 2003 and A Time to Say Goodbye
The series, set in the village of Kendal in the parish of Hanover, chronicles the growth of the titular protagonist from his teens to early adulthood and eventual married life. In the first book, he contends with the after-effects of his parents' divorce and his father's loss of land and business power to rival Jake Hibbertson
, and outlines the efforts his father makes to reclaim his status and reputation. The second book chronicles Rami's efforts to fully reclaim his family land from Jake, while going into his courtship of his longtime sweetheart Donna Rae Hilcher. The third book, told from Donna Rae's point of view, outlines the Johnson family's reaction to Jake's previously-unknown younger brother coming to set up roots in the village, and goes in-depth into the development of certain minor characters.
The series is used in schools as English Literature textbooks.(N.B.: At this time, the trope list for this page is incomplete.)
Tropes present throughout the Rami Johnson Trilogy:
- Abusive Parents: Cory Hibbertson is this toward Eldorado in the third book.
- All of the Other Reindeer: The villagers treat Sun-Sun, and Rami by proxy, with much disdain during the first few chapters of the first book, after Jake's acquisition of Robin Hill forces the two to move to the much-less-glamorous River Bottom property. Rami feels the sting from his classmates at school.
- The B Grade: Inverted in the third book—when Mendez gives a detailed essay about the vandalism of Donna Rae's classroom, Donna Rae gives him an A- for the effort he put into writing the assignment without being asked to do so; normally, Mendez is a C student.
- Babies Ever After: Rami and Donna Rae, at the end of the second book.
- Bad Boss: Jake Hibbertson. After Cripes fails to sabotage Rami's farm, Jake sees Rami confronting Cripes and, thinking his henchman has turned traitor, fires him and throws him out on the street. Later, when he leaves Kendal, he gives his realtor instructions that none of the Johnsons is to be sold Robin Hill; but when Rami buys the land anyway through a second party, Jake calls the realtor a moron and fires him.
- Big Bad: Jake Hibbertson, though his role is much more low-key in the third book.
- Big Fancy House: Robin Hill, the Johnson family's home that Jake takes from Sun-Sun in the first book. It boasts four bedrooms, a number of sitting rooms, a den, a library, a large kitchen and dining room, and a hilltop view of the town of Kendal. Getting back the house and the surrounding property from Jake is Rami's focus in the second book.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Brad, Rami's younger brother. Arlene, Rami's sister, is this to a lesser degree.
- Character Development: Rami gets this throughout the first and second books. Special mention also goes to his mother Debbie, who becomes a Defrosting Ice Queen; Cripes, who takes advantage of the school tutoring Rami offers him and later becomes a better man for it; and Mendez, who strives to become a better student after being given the opportunity to exercise his acting talents by Donna Rae.
- Coming of Age Story
- Disappeared Dad: Mendez's father migrated to the USA, ostensibly to seek a better life for his family.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Jake has taken to alcohol by the second book to cope with the loss of his child.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Sun-Sun rescues his family and Jake from the burning Robin Hill but fails to save himself, yet he laughs while burning to death.
- Education Mama: Debbie is a positive example, and a justified one as well since, between the first two books, Rami has dropped out of school to try and bring Sun-Sun's lands back up to scratch and is studying on his own. She offers to ask some of her fellow teachers to help Rami with tutoring.
- Finagle's Law: In the second book, Rami describes the bad luck that befell his father in the previous book this way, though he uses the term "Murphy's Law" for it.
- First Girl Wins: Donna Rae. She and Rami get married by the end of the second book.
- First Kiss: Rami and Donna Rae have theirs in Chapter 6 of the second book. As Donna Rae later describes it while narrating the third book: "It was a warm tingly something, moist too."
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Cory and Jake Hibbertson, respectively, are villainous examples of this trope. Cory has an open Hair-Trigger Temper and a history of violence toward others, and has been a ne'er-do-well for most of his existence who only manages to get by because of his brother's assistance. By contrast, Jake is a man with a shrewd business head on his shoulders, who knows how to wield the power he possesses and keeps his activities carefully calibrated.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Cory Hibbertson.
- Held Gaze: There's a moment between Sun-Sun and Mrs. Hilcher in the first book. Rami suspects that the two might actually have kissed if he and Donna Rae weren't there at the time.
- Help Face Turn: Cripes became a full-fledged good guy largely because of Jake being a Bad Boss.
- Heroic BSOD: Rami has one following his father's death.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Sun-Sun dies saving Jake from the Robin Hill fire at the end of the first book.
- Hey, You!: Two examples, one direct and one indirect. The direct example is where Jake frequently addresses Rami as "young man" despite well knowing his name, initially as a sign of formality but later as a mark of disrespect. The indirect example is where Debbie refers to Donna Rae as "that girl," which Rami calls her out on in the second book.
- Hot-Blooded: Mendez Grandison, one of Donna Rae's students.
- In-Series Nickname: Sun-Sun is called this by just about everyone in Kendal, due to his outgoing, approachable and optimistic personality. Only Debbie and Jake ever refer to him by his actual first name, Merton.
- Infant Immortality: Subverted in between the first and second book - Baby Jake dies from complications arising from the effects of the Robin Hill fire.
- Jerk Ass: Jake Hibbertson. In the first book, the Rev. Ledbetter qualifies since he didn't do a thing to prevent the Johnsons' divorce, while the third book gives us Cory Hibbertson and his son Eldorado.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mendez. He's very mischievous, gets himself and his best friend Archie into trouble, is always ready to pick a fight, and shows off frequently to aggravate Brad and call attention to himself...but he genuinely loves Donna Rae, his teacher, and cares for Archie's well-being, and won't stand for anyone insulting either of them.
- Jerk Jock: Collie Rainer is a subversion—he's the most popular boy at school, but he's also Rami's friend and defends him from the taunts of their schoolmates in the first book.
- Jury and Witness Tampering: In the third book, Jake tries to coerce a key witness in his brother's assault trial to recant his earlier police statement that he saw the brother attack a young boy unprovoked. It doesn't work, though, as the witness gets served a subpoena that'll essentially force him to be at court to give his testimony anyway.
- Kick the Dog: Jake does this often, and it eventually reaches its peak when he openly accuses Sun-Sun of setting the fire that destroys Robin Hill and that Sun-Sun dies saving Jake from. And as if that weren't enough, he blames Debbie for Baby Jake's death. Debbie eventually breaks up with Jake because of that.
- Literally Loving Thy Neighbor: How Rami's relationship with Donna Rae begins. Rami also sees little seedlings of this between his father and Donna Rae's mother, but nothing comes of this what with Sun-Sun dying and all.
- Mook: Cripes was one of these for Jake in the second book, until his Heel-Face Turn.
- No Accounting for Taste: How Donna Rae describes Sun-Sun and Debbie's marrigae in the opening paragraphs of the third book.
He was easygoing, she was somewhat strait-laced. He liked the common people; she was a social climber. He made mistakes here and there; she was as accurate as an atomic clock.
- Old Flame: In the first book Debbie rudely hints, and Rami suspects, that Mrs. Hilcher was this for Sun-Sun.
Debbie: When I married him I had only deterred this.
Rami: (narrating) And what did I say? Father and Mrs. Hilcher must have been sweethearts of a time before either married.
- Papa Wolf: Cory Hibbertson gives Mendez a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown after the latter has caught Eldorado vandalizing Donna Rae's classroom and is dragging him to Robin Hill for punishment. It's not out of any genuine concern for his son, however, as he's later rumored to have flogged Eldorado mercilessly for the events of that night.
- The Perfectionist: Debbie, according to Donna Rae.
- Pride: Alfred's most unfortunate trait. It prevents him from joining the Saturday classes with Donna Rae in the third book, as he claims he's too old; coupled with his resentment of Cripes and his young friends, it leads to the older man's downfall later.
- The Quiet One: Archie, Mendez's best friend in the third book. There's also Cripes' mother, who's a Shrinking Violet.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Donna Rae herself, in her role as a teacher in the third book. She's quite capable of mediating Brad and Mendez's rivalry because of it.
- The Resenter: The elderly Alfred loathes the fact that Rami has set the much younger Cripes in a management position on the farm above himself, although this is due to Cripes availing himself of tutoring opportunities from Rami.
- Sequel Gap: The first book was published in 1984. The second book didn't come out till 2003.
- Shipper on Deck: Sun-Sun seems to have been this for Rami and Donna-Rae.
- Slasher Smile: Jake.
- Snake Oil Salesman: The obeahnote worker Alfred goes to in the third book, in an effort to achieve Cripes' success the quick and easy way.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Takes place between Jake and Donna Rae in the third book. Jake makes a rather rude comment on how the Hilcher family has risen from being in relative poverty to being financially well-off; Donna Rae hits back with Jake's own loss of social and financial power and his subsequent fall from grace.
Jake: I see you've moved up in the world.
Donna Rae: Some move up, some move down. Some move away.
- Supreme Chef: Mrs. Hilcher is an accomplished baker, catering for weddings and preparing pastries to sell at local cricket matches and dances. Debbie is also quite competent at cooking, herself, being able to spice up a rather bland beef soup Rami prepares for her early in the second book.
- Teacher's Pet: After Rami and Donna-Rae get married, Brad expects his sister-in-law, who is also his form teacher, to treat him this way. However, it's subverted.
- Time Skip: Two years pass between the end of the second book and the beginning of the third book.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Jake and Debbie for the latter half of the first book.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Jake proves himself to be this at the end of the first book.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Cripes in the second and third books. Yes, his father really did name him that, and he suffered a lot of teasing in his childhood because of it.
- Would Hit a Girl: Cory. When he goes on trial for assault, it's revealed that he once tried to drown a woman, and on another occasion he beat his wife seriously enough for her to be hospitalized.
- Would Hurt a Child: Cory knocks out one of Mendez's teeth, and later brutally straps Eldorado.