By Lincoln DePradine
It’s always been said that you can’t keep a good man – and, for that matter – a good woman down. This aptly describes Cynthia Reyes, who has been a writer all her life – beginning at childhood in Jamaica – and continuing in Canada, even after a serious accident that left her hospitalized and in need of speech therapy and other treatment. Reyes calls the accident a “life-changing event’’.
A former CBC broadcast producer and an award-winning journalist and author, she’s just had the official Toronto launch of her latest book, “Twigs in My Hair’’.
“This book came out as the number release in its category on amazon.com, amazon.ca and Kindle,’’ Reyes told The Caribbean Camera at the Toronto launch at A Different Booklist Cultural Centre. The store and centre are owned by husband and wife Miguel San Vicente and Itah Sadu.
The couple is planning to move the business across the street from its current 779 Bathurst Street location to larger premises, which promises such amenities as a drumming studio and an art gallery. The move is expected within two years.
“Twigs in My Hair’’ is a gardening memoir, complemented with photographs by Hamlin Grange, also an award-winning former Canadian Broadcasting Corporation journalist and husband of Reyes.
“I’m just happy to be part of your journey,’’ Grange said to his wife, while describing his involvement in the publication.
He explained that the launch is occurring in a neighbourhood – Bathurst and Bloor Streets – where he spent his early childhood after arriving in Canada from Jamaica with his parents. He attended a neighbourhood school, shopped at Honest Ed, and landed his first journalism job at Lennox Street at the now defunct Contrast newspaper.
“This place speaks to home for me. Bathurst and Bloor brings a lot of memories,’’ said Grange.
“Gardens are like homes,’’ he added. “At the same time quite familiar, they can also be a place of real mystery.’’
Prior to “Twigs in My Hair’’, Reyes published “A Good Home’’ and “An Honest House’’.
When Reyes and Grange’s daughter Lauren was four, her mother wrote a children’s book, “Myrtle the Purple Turtle’’, which was inspired by a distressing experience Lauren Reyes-Grange encountered at school.
According to Cynthia Reyes, “Myrtle the Purple Turtle’’ was published to “great acclaim from reviewers and readers alike and has been recognized with an award. It has been translated into French’’.
Mother and daughter collaborated on a second children’s illustrated book, “Myrtle’s Games’’.
Lauren Reyes-Grange, now married and expecting her firstborn, also co-authored “Myrtle Makes a New Friend’’, the third in the Myrtle series.
“Twigs in My Hair’’ and “Myrtle Makes a New Friend’’ were both launch last week at A Different Booklist.
Reyes-Grange, reading excerpts from “Myrtle Makes a New Friend’’ and answering questions from the audience, said the book is intended to share messages of the importance of such things as kindness and inclusion.
The audience at the book launch were also treated to Cynthia Reyes’ reading of excerpts from “Twigs in My Hair’’. Reyes, who was inducted into the Order of Distinction in Jamaica in 2016, also autographed copies of the book.
She is delighted with the response to “Twigs in My Hair’’, which could capture a worldwide audience as did her previous publications.
“They’ve all been bestsellers,’’ said Reyes. “They’ve all done really well; every single book.’’
Jamaican-born activist and educator, Kamala-Jean Gopie, introducing Reyes and her new publication, complimented her on her writing style.
“Your writing is extraordinary,’’ she told Reyes. “It’s poetic, it’s crisp.’’