Sweetness in the Skin

Sweetness in the Skin

Fiction & Poetry, Modern & Contemporary Fiction
Hardback Published on: 11/04/2024
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Pumkin Patterson dreams of a life beyond her Jamaican hometown. But what we dream of and where we belong aren’t always the same thing…

This heartfelt and uplifting story is for fans of The Girl With the Louding Voice and The Reading List

'An engaging coming-of-age tale' THE TIMES

'The word-of-mouth sensation that's making waves . . . Luminous' IRENOSEN OKOJIE, STYLIST

'Will linger in your heart long after the final page. An absolute must-read' ABI DARÉ, author of The Girl With the Louding Voice

‘A delightful story set in Jamaica, amid heartbreak, hopefulness, and mirth’ CHARMAINE WILKERSON, author of Black Cake


For Pumkin Patterson, family is complicated.

There’s her mother Paulette, who ignores her. There’s her beloved Auntie Sophie, who her mother resents. And there’s her grandmother, who has always played favourites.
Whenever tensions rise, Pumkin retreats to the kitchen - creating the Jamaican bread puddings and coconut drops that have always given her comfort.

When Sophie moves to France for work, she vows to send for her niece in one year’s time. But in order to follow her aunt, Pumkin has a mountain to climb. Starting with the question of how she’ll manage to escape her mother, and make enough money to get to Marseille.

Inspired by her skills in the kitchen, Pumkin turns to her community in the hope that she can sell enough sweet treats to bake her way out. But when her school and her mother discover her plan, everything she’s worked so hard for may slip through her fingers . . .


'A dazzling coming-of-age novel set in the 1990s with an unforgettable heroine' RED

'An ode to the families we create for ourselves . . . Pumkin is a wonderful main character you are willing to succeed' GLAMOUR

'A treat from start to finish' SARAH HAYWOOD, author of The Cactus

'I read this book with my heart in my mouth, hoping all of Pumkin's dreams would come true' BREANNE MC IVOR, author of The God of Good Looks

‘A tender exploration of familial love, both the family you’re born to, and the one you find along the way’ CHARLENE CARR, author of Hold My Girl

'A story so rich and resonant I never wanted it to end' JULIETTA HENDERSON, author of The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman


'This. Was. Amazing! I was hooked from the very first page.' Reader review

'Absolutely charming. I read it on one sitting, I just couldn’t peel myself away from the story of Pumpkin!' Reader review

'I enjoyed reading it and was rooting for Pumkin to find her way on her journey to herself' Reader review

'Funny and heartwarming. Highly recommend adding to your wish list of books to read next year' Reader review

'I have not enjoyed a book as much as this for a VERY long time! This has everything for me that I want from a book' Reader review

  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • ISBN: 9780241643037
  • Number of pages: 368
  • Weight: 472g
  • Dimensions: 224 x 144 x 33 mm

Customer Reviews

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Sweetness in the Skin
Very descriptive
This was a lovely coming of age story about Akisha, know as Pumkin by everyone and her life growing up in Jamaica, living with her grandmother, mother and ... READ MORE
Karen Farrow
Sweetness in the Skin
A Lovely Splash of Colour in a Grey World
This book is thoroughly charming, and so is its main character Pumkin Patterson. She has had all the knocks that you can imagine in her thirteen years but ... READ MORE
Kerry Young
Sweetness in the Skin
An absorbing read.
A wonderful debut novel about a 13 year old girl from Jamaica who has her own hopes and dreams of living a life elsewhere. A brilliant cast of characters w... READ MORE
Lorraine Joad
Sweetness in the Skin
Perfect escapism
Erica James certainly knows how to formulate and tell a great story. Louisa has been married to Kip for years and has three grown up children. Completely o... READ MORE
Karen Farrow