New coming of age Bahamian novel hits the streets

“Wheewwww! “Wheewww!” “Wheeww!” My fingers are burning! From turning the pages of the new break-through novel, “Harbro: The Finding of Sam Holbert” by Bahamian Author, Tyrone G. Sawyer. What a barn burner it is! I picked it up and low and behold, I could not put it back down!

I am excited to tell the story. But I can’t give away too much of the plot. Otherwise, it would spoil your own experience of reading it. And read it, you must!

So compelling is the story, “Harbro”: The Finding of Sam Holbert. Its main character, Sam Holbert, was born in Dunmore Town, Harbour Island to the daughter of the out island commissioner. It is a story of quaint island life. It is a story of how he navigates himself through life. It is a story about how Sam not only survived, but how he learned to eke out a living during hard times and then along the way to find ways to enjoy his life. And to find himself. It is a story of courage. And transformation.

“Harbro”: The Finding of Sam Holbert is a thrilling narrative. It never lets up. It is also a story that is, sadly, somewhat unfamiliar to persons born after 1973. Because it portrays a way of life that their parents lived as children. But one that some of them only glimpsed on holiday trips to the island to visit briefly with grandpa and grandma. But things have changed and Sam has changed with them. “Harbro”: The Finding of Sam Holbert continues to bring the reader up close and personal with the way that life was back then. In the “good old days”. Although just a novel, it is almost historical. Almost a beacon.

The setting of the first chapter is 1955 when Sam was born. Back then, The Bahamas was still in many ways a sleepy colonial outpost. Still ruled and governed by Great Britain. With a parliamentary democracy. With a seasonal tourism economy. Some fishing. Some farming. Where a lot of men made their way to the projects in the US as itinerant farm workers to feed their families. Where the class system remained rigid and almost unbreakably intact. Where every man, woman and child knew their place. Where the prospects for the poor man were dim indeed.

But the story prances through the 1960s, the 1970s and on into the 1980s. The author does not relent. He does not lose pace. Things have changed even more. The story is told through the eyes and the experiences of its main character, Sam Holbert. And that is what makes the story so compelling: seeing how Sam grows and evolves as a person through the changing scenes of his life, seeing the decisions that he makes and seeing the noble, exceptional person that he turns out to be. What a potent journey it is!

The story is very rich in texture. It is interwoven with life as it was on the island of Bimini. On the island of Harbour Island. On the island of Nassau. And other places where Sam’s journeys took him. It turns out that Sam’s story is, in many respects, the quintessential story for the ages: how a man from humble beginnings faces unbeatable odds – and overcomes.

After 278 pages, I finally put the sparkling new novel down. “Wheewwww!” “Wheewwww!” “Wheewww!” What a barn burner “Harbro”: The Finding of Sam Holbert is a must-read! A novel for the ages!

“Harbro”: The Finding of Sam Holbert is available at Carrie’s Donuts, Miami Street, Nassau (opposite E.P. Roberts Primary), at local book stores in Nassau, Bimini, Harbour Island, Freeport and on

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