A recent LoveReading Debut of the Month, we rated Dominoes for the fresh, thought-provoking way it explores the painful legacies of the British slave trade in the Caribbean through a compelling contemporary relationship story. 

In fact, populated by characters who feel authentic, Phoebe McIntosh’s debut represents contemporary fiction at its best — the storytelling is lucidly engaging as it tackles big of-the-moment-topics, including the on-going Windrush scandal, in relatable style.

Moving from London to Jamaica and back again, the story is centred on a young woman, Layla, who was born to a Black British-Jamaican mother and an absent white father. Starting off as a sparky love-at-first-sight story, when Layla and Andy meet at a party and discover they share a surname, ancestral connections that come to light ahead of their wedding send Layla reeling, causing a rift with her best friend, and huge personal conflict. 

SPOILER ALERT: stop here if you haven’t yet read Dominoes. If you have, lucky you! Keep reading for questions that’ll kickstart your book club discussions around this very accomplished debut.

1. Discuss the significance of the title.

2. “Y’know, you can be so naive sometimes, Lay. It’s the way you’re acting, like the past has nothing to do with you. You can’t feel good about marrying someone whose ancestors might’ve owned yours. And even if they didn’t, they sure as fuck owned someone’s”.

How did you respond to this statement from Sera? Did you think Layla was naïve?

3. “His aunt basically thanked fuck you’re light-skinned at your own engagement party, Layla.”

How did you feel when this happened? How did you respond to Layla and Sera’s respective reactions to it?

4. Did you anticipate the nature of the connection between Layla and Andy?

5. Why didn’t Layla reveal the truth to Andy earlier? Why didn’t she say anything to her mum when the opportunity arose before the wedding?

6. “She wanted me to choose being black over being white, and not marry a white guy, or at least not one whose family might’ve owned mine. The notion was either completely understandable, rational, a kindness one friend was doing another. Or dangerously toxic. An abuse of trust.”

 Where do you stand on Sera? Was she doing Layla a “kindness”, or was her response “toxic”?

7. Discuss why Layla “felt like a traitor”.

8. “With freedom, nobody can tell you what fi do, who fi love. With freedom der not one race better dan any odda. Bab, you free. Go live, free. Go love, free. That is di most important t’ing you can both do to honour our ancestors.”

Discuss the significance of Layla’s grandfather’s words. 

9. Did you think the couple would get married?

10. What did you think of the author’s style of writing ? 

11. What did you think of the way Dominoes ended? Did it open your eyes to anything new? What did you take from reading Dominoes?