There are many themes in this book. First of all, Family is an important theme. Edwidge is brought up during her younger years by her uncle because her parents left for the United States to create a better life. Edwidge grows extremely close to her uncle and likes to listen to his sermons, as he is a Pastor at their church. When Edwidge joins her parents in New York, she is still thinking of the people she grew close to in Haiti and wonders if they are safe.
Another theme is Fear. Edwidge is afraid of the new life she will begin in New York. Her Uncle Joseph is afraid when his church is mobbed and he is forced to flee to Miami.
Politics are another theme in this book as the political struggle and political deterioration in Haiti is illustrated for the reader.
Exile and immigration are also important themes as Edwidge and her parents move to New York as immigrants and her uncle is exiled from Haiti.
Finally, death is a theme. Edwidge wrote this memoir specifically to express and illustrate for readers the cruel deaths of her uncle and father. This book was a way for her to cope.