Dominoes by Phoebe McIntosh – Book Review

Dominoes by Phoebe McIntosh – Book Review

Dominoes by Phoebe McIntosh


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They already share a surname. But will they share a future?

When Layla and Andy first meet, they can’t believe they have the same surname. It feels like fate, almost too romantic to be true.

But Sera, Layla’s best friend, has her doubts about Andy. As the pair fall deeper and deeper in love, Sera becomes more and more vocal about Layla settling down with a white boy. And then, only a few weeks before their wedding, Layla makes a devastating discovery about their shared name.

What seemed like a fairy-tale romance is rapidly derailed. In part propelled by Sera’s rising anger, Layla begins to uncover parts of her history and identity that she had never imagined — or, perhaps, had simply learnt to ignore. And now, she faces an impossible choice, between past and future, friendship and marriage, the personal and the political.

Review by Stacey

Dominoes is the story of a young woman of Jamaican descent living in London. At a party, she meets Andy a white man who happens to share the same surname as her.

Layla’s bond with her best friend, Sera, is tested when Sera develops an instant dislike for Andy, prompting her to delve into his background. Regrettably, Sera uncovers unsettling information revealing Andy’s ancestors’ ties to slavery, with the possibility of Layla’s ancestors being among those they enslaved.

The story is touching and intricately explores themes of identity and heritage. While Layla grapples with the revelation, the ethical dilemma surrounding Andy’s ancestral past is compelling. It prompts reflection on the notion of accountability for historical injustices, making readers contemplate the extent individuals today are responsible for the actions of their ancestors.

Sera was a nasty piece of work. I couldn’t stand the woman one bit. She took issue with her best friend’s relationship and set out to destroy it. Believe me, no one needs a best friend like that, no matter how ‘good’ she thought her intentions were.

Dominoes is certainly a book that provides a thought-provoking exploration of moral dilemmas. It is a book that challenges readers to confront uncomfortable truths and will divide them with the outcome.

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Phoebe McIntosh

Phoebe McIntosh

Phoebe McIntosh is an actor and playwright from London. She wrote and performed in a sell-out run of her first play, The Tea Diaries, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013, followed by her solo show, Dominoes, which toured the South East and London in 2018. She has completed the Soho Theatre Writers’ Lab programme, and her most recent full-length play, The Soon Life, was shortlisted and highly commended for the Tony Craze Award as well as being longlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award.

Phoebe won a place on the inaugural Tamasha x Hachette creative writing programme in 2018 and was also selected for the Penguin Random House WriteNow programme in 2020. Dominoes was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award 2021.

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