The Price of Humans Reviews

    
    Amanda King, USA

 

J.L. Edwards begins The Price of Humans with a question that plagued him while writing: “Why would anyone want to read a story about a boy who had a tough life?” Readers, in turn, should ask themselves this question: Why would anyone want to read this story about a boy who had a tough life? After all, for mastery of the genre, one need look no further than Charles Dickens.

 

Of the countless novels of the downtrodden, no two are alike. Edwards is clearly passionate about his novel, and with The Price of Humans, he addresses social problems specific to modern society. Despite its frequently didactic language and plot points punctuated by an excess of distant howling mongrels, the unique characters in The Price of Humans offer readers insights into their own shortcomings and achievements. (See full review)

 

Girly Joy Abasta, Philippines

 

The Price of Humans is a book full of truth and political wisdom. It covers the lives of the rich and famous, be it dirty or not, and vividly describes the struggles of the poor people, just to get through in their everyday lives. The author was able to clearly portray the extreme differences of the upper and lower economical class in the society. (See full review)

 

 Tarik Mirza, Pakistan

J.L. Edwards has skillfully used his characters to explore the very important question about the actual worth of humans. His book reflects how culture and environment influence the human nature and the way money controls an individual’s behavior. The story revolves around a timely and thrilling plot involving human’s lust for money or power and its aftermath, making the readers face the bitter truth of life. The skillfully designed story is a perfect blend of fear, political injustice, violence, hopelessness and incredible hypocrisy. (See full review)

 

Sharon Rose (Australia)

 

I believe this book will serve as an inspiration to readers who are opposed to injustice and who feel that humans deserve to be treated with equal respect, regardless of their station in life. The story also offers an insightful look into the Jamaican culture and community, and provides a touching tale of friendship and loyalty that will be enjoyed by many. (See full review)

 

 

Sunanda Kundu (India)

 The story is captivating and grabs the attention of the reader, making one wonder ‘what’s next?’ Perfectly balanced emotions, drama and action keeps the reader hooked to the story till the very end.  (See full review)

  

 

 

Ermelinda M. Belarmino Ed.D., CESO VI (Philippines)

 

J.L. Edwards has skillfully used his characters to explore the very important question about the actual worth of humans. His book reflects how culture and environment influence the human nature and the way money controls an individual’s behavior. The story revolves around a timely and thrilling plot involving human’s lust for money or power and its aftermath, making the readers face the bitter truth of life. The skillfully designed story is a perfect blend of fear, political injustice, violence, hopelessness and incredible hypocrisy. (See full review)

 

“The Price of Humans”

-         Book Review by Amanda King (USA)

 

            J.L. Edwards begins The Price of Humans with a question that plagued him while writing: “Why would anyone want to read a story about a boy who had a tough life?” Readers, in turn, should ask themselves this question: Why would anyone want to read this story about a boy who had a tough life? After all, for mastery of the genre, one need look no further than Charles Dickens.

            Of the countless novels of the downtrodden, no two are alike. Edwards is clearly passionate about his novel, and with The Price of Humans, he addresses social problems specific to modern society. Despite its frequently didactic language and plot points punctuated by an excess of distant howling mongrels, the unique characters in The Price of Humans offer readers insights into their own shortcomings and achievements.

            Consider George Mogo, a man who grew up impoverished but achieved success in his job managing a Jamaican beer bottling factory. Mogo is of the usual rags-to-riches type, but he is interesting for his behavior once he has achieved success. Rather than working to raise those in living in similar conditions, Mogo instead spends his successful life lamenting his failure to achieve the affluence that his wealthy-born wife takes for granted. The reader is repeatedly bludgeoned with descriptions of the difference between Mogo’s wealthy neighborhood and the nearby ghettos, but Mogo does not understand his responsibility to those waiting to raise themselves out of poverty until he meets Chaba.

Chaba, a driving character in The Price of Humans, is a hit man with a heart of gold who helps Mogo realize his responsibility to his fellow humans through surprisingly educated speeches marking the hardships of the impoverished. Chaba has been forced to survive by the motto “see and be blind, hear and be deaf, kill or be killed,” but he begins to understand how to escape violent ghetto life when George replaces his motto with “you can’t wake up and kill people every day.” Neither man is complete without the other’s lessons.

            The Price of Humans is interesting for more than just the characters—there is political corruption, examination of poverty, and class battles—but the book’s title begs the reader to examine its humans. In the oddly-named Crowd-O’-People, Edwards presents a character whose enormous girth reflects his omniscient role among the other factory workers: “Crowd-O’-People could always be relied on to provide unsolicited, accurate and objective perspectives of ‘juicy’ factory drama and corporate news. . .he fed George with news from the grapevine and provided him comfort in challenging times.” Crowd-O’-People sees and hears all, but he is not Big Brother; he is a one-man group of friends capable of rendering a variety of services.

            Edwards intends the characters and plot of this book to be examined and discussed. Perfect for college students or book groups, every chapter in The Price of Humans ends with review questions. The vague question “What should George have done differently?” complicates what at first seems like a simple chapter when the reader is forced to engage it morally. A more complicated one is “How do cultural factors and economics affect relationships, tolerance and discrimination?” Perhaps the best question in The Price of Humans is the last one: “Suggest a different title for this book.” This invites the reader to think both critically and creatively on the work as a whole.

            Though The Price of Humans is another story about a boy with a tough life, it has a setting that few popular novels engage. Edwards intends for his readers to have a thought-provoking experience with this book, and hopefully, his intentions will be fulfilled.

 

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“The Price of Humans”

-         Book Review by Girly Joy Abasta (Philippines)

 

The Price of Humans is a book full of truth and political wisdom. It covers the lives of the rich and famous, be it dirty or not, but vividly describes the struggles of the poor people just to get through in their everyday lives. The author was able to clearly portray the extreme differences of the upper and lower economical class in the society.

Although the setting of the story is in Jamaica, it also happens in other parts of the world. Political corruption is indeed very rampant. This book is truly an eye-opener to what we can say the reality of socio-economic structure of a society in which Counselor Harper, Chaba and George embody.

 

As the saying goes, “the rich becomes richer and the poor becomes poorer” is simply perfect for this book. The people whom Counselor Jerry Harper represents in the story are enveloped with unreasonable lust for power and money. For what? For recognition? For human instinct? Or shall we call it ‘crab mentality’? It is not human instinct to shamelessly exploit people to do wrong for the satisfaction of one’s greediness. Counselor Jerry Harper did just that in this story. He hastily commands the “ghetto” person/s to kill anybody who stands in his way to the top. In return, he pays them with such little money to feed their family and empty promises of pursuing their dreams.

 

Extrajudicial killings really do happen just to attain mass of wealth and the most prestigious status in the society. Although not all politicians are into dirty games like this, it is not unknown that hundreds or even thousands of people have been a victim of this inconsolable crime. Still, people who have an idea what’s going on keep their mouth shut because its either they are too terrified to be associated or they were offered more money to be silent of what they know.

 

It is so frustrating to know that there are people who are supposed to be well-educated, civilized, and respectable have the courage to exploit the less fortunate ones and make them believe that killing people is actually a profession.  Chaba is a representation of a mass of people who struggles to live everyday, especially in the developing countries. While the rich people lie in a bed full of money, persons like Chaba must drop sweat and blood in order to eat. Not even a single cent has to be wasted on simple luxury.

 

Chaba, as in all of our fellow countrymen who are not fortunate enough to finish school and do not even have a decent house to start with, must be given help. Lend a hand and nurture them as if they are family. They, too, must be respected regardless of their status in life. Like what George Mogo did, he tried to know the real Chaba and helped him all the way through his hardships, not even minding about the money he spent to give justice on the downturn made by Jerry Harper.

 

And should I mention that George Mogo tried to obtain a mass of wealth and a well-respected status, too? He was even cold-hearted to his workers just to be “productive” enough. But because he was able to open his eyes to the naked truth, his heart softened and became just and fair to all.

 

So, can you price a human given that you have the wealth and a well-respected status? They say, money is the root of all evil. So, you decide.

 

By: Girly Joy Abasta RN, Philippines

 

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“The Price of Humans”

- Book Review by Tariq Mirza (Pakistan)

 

J.L. Edwards has skillfully used his characters to explore the very important question about the actual worth of humans. His book reflects how culture and environment influence the human nature and the way money controls an individual’s behavior. The story revolves around a timely and thrilling plot involving human’s lust for money or power and its aftermath, making the readers face the bitter truth of life. The skillfully designed story is a perfect blend of fear, political injustice, violence, hopelessness and incredible hypocrisy.

From Chaba to Nicole, all characters are using every possible mean to survive in this unpredictable game of life. In a world having no room for emotions and feelings, people are using each other for personal gains. By sketching the characters of Chaba, George and Priscilla, the author has been successful in convincing his readers that friendship and love are the two strongest forces. The three characters seem to constitute a relationship triangle with each influencing the other.

The life of Chaba shows how a single tragedy can change one’s entire life and make a person go astray. Once you’ve entered the dark world of crime, getting out is not that easy. The friendship between George and Chaba aroused the goodness within Chaba, making him understand that humans are priceless. Priscilla’s unconditional love made George realize that it is never too late to rectify your mistakes. I totally agree with the author that trust brings out the best in a relationship and people are certainly more important than everything else.

 

 

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“The Price of Humans”

- Book Review by Sharon Rose (Australia)

 

The Price of Humans, by J. L. Edwards, is a political novel set in Jamaica, 1992. Its central character is George Mogo, a wealthy executive in his early thirties who develops an unlikely friendship with Chaba, a young man from a nearby ghetto. Though they possess vast differences in lifestyle, occupation, and mannerisms, they nevertheless feel a sense of camaraderie, which grows stronger as they learn to accept and trust each other. Through Chaba, George becomes acquainted with the local ghetto community, and although he is impressed by the friendly, outgoing nature of its inhabitants, he is also shocked at the mistreatment that they face at the hands of the police and government authorities.

 

With political elections taking place, the violence and tension in Jamaica rises as corrupt leaders seek to secure their positions by means of intimidation, threat and even murder. Decisions, coupled with fate, bring George and Chaba to situations that test their newfound friendship as they find themselves thrown into the political upheaval, in ways neither of them could have expected.

 

The Price of Humans serves as a stark reminder of the crime and injustice that inevitably result when those in authority choose to use their power for selfish gain. Fear is a powerful weapon, but kindness and compassion are what will win people’s hearts and bring about true success in the end. The story also shows the deep rewards of friendship and uniting for a common cause, and how focusing one’s attention outward in seeking to help others can in fact help him resolve inner and personal conflicts.

 

I thought it was noteworthy how, although the story distinctly defines the social boundaries in Jamaica, it does not throw a particular bias against either the upper or the lower class, but reveals how there are both the upstanding and the depraved in all levels of society. It is not wealth or poverty that determines a person’s character, but rather how he chooses to look at life and his fellow man: with love or with hate. People of any social standing can fall victim to the cruelty of others or be an instigator of it, and having a sense of morals and living up to them is a matter of personal choice. Also, even well-meaning individuals make mistakes, have their weak moments, and must deal with the consequences of their actions. No one is always right or wrong, but one can effect change in his attitudes and habits if he determines to do so.

 

I believe this book will serve as an inspiration to readers who are opposed to injustice and who feel that humans deserve to be treated with equal respect, regardless of their station in life. The story also offers an insightful look into the Jamaican culture and community, and provides a touching tale of friendship and loyalty that will be enjoyed by many.

 

 

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“The Price of Humans”

- Book Review by Sunanda Kundu (India)

 

The book ‘The Price of Humans’ gives an insight to the reader into the stark differences between people living in the uptown and downtown, the ghettoes of Jamaica. The subject of the story delves into the issue of how human life is not valued in today’s society and it can easily be taken away in lieu of just a few dollars. A bullet is mightier than anything under the Sun. A society where killing for money is a way of life and is the only skill known to the young and the restless is being portrayed in entirety. The story poses some essential questions each human is required to ask himself as he goes about acquiring wealth. How important is fame and wealth? What is the place of relationships in our lives? Whatever happened to the good old values? And most importantly, what are we leaving behind for the generations to come? The author deals with various issues simultaneously, describing meticulously the lives of people who live in the poor locality and how the gang men are bound to stick to the acts of violence and aggression. How the influential and wealthy are using their wealth in creating an aggressive and destructive society for their own good! George’s relationship with his wife is another reflection of how various misunderstandings and problems crop up between couples who in spite of being in love with one another, are unable to overcome their egos for the sake of their spouse.

 

It is quite surprising to learn through this story that people in the ghetto do not take up crime because of the money or power, rather; they tend to turn into gangsters out of sheer fear of being killed. They understand that they cannot save themselves from the clutches of the powerful and influential politicians and wherever they go they have to face the same wrath. The story revolves around George and Chaba - the two men from the same background. George being the lucky one who got taken care of by some good Samaritans who helped him survive and make a respectable place for him in the society while Chaba was in the dumps and was a totally messed up youth. George comes to rescue Chaba and the likes of him from the dangerous and violent atmosphere. With various situations depicted by the author he points out how the biggest enemies are lack of shelter, food, disease, ignorance and drugs and not other human beings. The rich and powerful use the downtrodden to fulfill personal fancies and using them like tools to succeed, exploiting them over and over again. There are many moments in the book that sketch the emotional and vulnerable side of the people who come across as strong and powerful.

 

The character of George is portrayed as a humanitarian often surpassing the tough taskmaster he was. George finds it difficult to justify inhumane working conditions for his workers. The author shows that there are a few people like George who would go out of their way to help the poor and unfortunate people and try making a positive impact in their lives. How the successful and well off should pay back to the society that helped them come out of the dumps.  Having said so, the book stresses on factors such as how the people who decide to help the downtrodden are forced to live on the edge, as you socialize more and more with the ghetto people, you become extremely vulnerable to the life threatening situations, because there was no certainty in their actions and they were irrational and overly aggressive in any situation. The fear and uncertainty that haunts the person who gets close to the people of ghetto is rampant.

 

The book throws light into various lives and we get to learn what goes on inside the human minds and psychology at various levels.  The author makes an impact on our minds about things we seldom think about, like helping the criminals come out of the criminal surroundings and giving them a chance to live a decent life and in turn helping the society in a big way. It is not as if the people who are at the other side of the law are always at fault, they could in fact be victims in the hands of the influential and powerful people. The story is captivating and grabs the attention of the reader, making one wonder ‘what’s next?’ Perfectly balanced emotions, drama and action keeps the reader hooked to the story till the very end. 

 

 

 

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“The Price of Humans”

- Book Review by M. Belarmino Ed.D., CESO VI (Philippines)

 

The Price of Humans written by John L. Edwards is a poignant and moving saga of man’s search for identity and meaning. Set against the background of beautiful Jamaica, the then chief slave market of America, the novel skillfully interweaves love, hate, hope, exploitation, abuse, greed and hope into the human drama of internal conflicts, friendly betrayals and loveless communions.  It articulates the deep-seated longing of every human soul to seek that which gives meaning to its existence.  Using the elegant social status of the elite and the affluent and the iron-fisted rule of the powerful in a juxtaposition with the stark impoverished ghetto hovels of the deprived and the marginalized, Edwards packs his work with characters that bring into life not only the faces of pain, greed, callousness but also the hope and the sterling capacity of the human soul to rise and assert its worth.  Using a young boy who witnessed the senseless murder of his father, the author reveals a life of hopelessness, the price and prevalence of political shady deals, the pangs of extreme adversity and the painful absence of love. In the same stream, he uses a young executive caught in his own perplexities to underscore the gnawing void and restlessness of life when it is anchored on the transient and the transitory. With the unlikely meeting of these two personalities, Edwards captures the essence of human life minus the worldly trappings and lays bare the human soul which is at its best in its nakedness.

 

The Price of Humans is divided into ten chapters, each replete with intense dramatic suspense of human struggles. Chapter I uses the image of things falling apart to set the initial stage. Chapter 2 describes the inequality of life while Chapter 3 poses the central question on how to price a human. Chapter 4 draws the invisible line leading to a blood bath in Chapter 5. The dream that sustains man is featured in Chapter 6 and the dramatic interweaving of events are in Chapters 7 to Chapter 10. The inevitable marks the fall of the curtains.

 

 

John L. Edwards has dwelt at length on the history, political organization, social classes, customs, beliefs and traditions of the rich and the famous and the stark realities of the ghetto culture set in Jamaica.

 

Jamaica, the 3rd largest Caribbean Island, lies about 90 miles south of Cuba. Most of its inhabitants are Negroes or of mixed blood. In 1655, it became an English colony and in the 18th century, more than 600,000 Negroes were imported to work the plantations. It became the chief slave market of America. It became independent on August 6, 1962.

 

 

It is important to note that in writing this novel, the author has relied heavily on his knowledge of the startling life story of a young boy whose touching experiences compelled him to share these that we all may reaffirm the values of compassion and love to all human beings and may provide valuable insights in our own quest for self and meaning.

Name: Ermelinda M. Belarmino Ed.D., CESO VI

Country: Philippines

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