- 101 in 1001
March 12, 2010
Labels: Book Reviews
Dear Ms. Carleen Brice,
Have you been secretly spying on me somehow? It's like you saw me walking to class and saw, let me make a story about a college student who deflects creating relationships in life by burying her head in books and subsequently burns out constantly (like last week after midterms and work). You must have saw me with my head covering, hair hiding hat and decided that you'll create a character who tears her hair when she gets stressed. I don't know how you could tell that I was a virgin from the way I was dressed (I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a 21 year old virgin either.). Maybe you're a fortune teller and you were telling me "Najela, if you don't get your act together, you could be 25 and a loser working at a record store. But if you do get it together, you might meet the man of your dreams in said record store. Sure he won't be Oliver Toliver or a Desmond, but you'll get there someday baby."
Of course you changed some details. You made my mom a drunk and gave me a little sister. Shay and I share a love of science (I hate math though), a busted car, and logical reasons for the things we do. Sometimes we hold a grudge that's hard to let go, but your novel lets me know what happens when you forgive and understand. Life doesn't end perfectly when you forgive, but it's just one less burden you have to worry about. You don't have to do what's expected of you. You can do what's best for you, regardless of what people think. When I was doubting my decision to follow my dreams. Your story reminded me that I'm doing the right thing. Your story is realistic and doesn't glorify the act of forgiveness, but rather presents it as something that needs to be done, but sometimes people don't change because you forgive them. Your environment might not change. But you change and that's all that matters. Like I said, burdens are lifted from your shoulders and you can move on. That's what's important. I enjoyed that realistic aspect of the story.
I never thought I could identify with a character that was exactly like me but lived under a different set of circumstances. I could be Shay and Shay could be me despite our different experiences, we still had the same personality and would handle things the same way.
You must have been following me when I went to look for a new place to live and saw me looking at the backyard, wondering what I could do with all the space. Plant a garden and start something new. Like Nona. I wanted to keep a God box somewhere, maybe not outside but somewhere. I want to plant orange mint and make tea. Thank you for the recipes at the end.
There wasn't much that I disliked about this novel. Maybe Ivy? Because she reminds me of so many girls that I've come across in life. But you made that girl sympathetic. You made her human, something I failed to do in real life when coming across with people that are exactly like Ivy. You even made Nona seem like a human being and not a caricature of a recovering alcoholic. You even did it through a first person narrator who had every right to be mad at her mother. Yet, I found myself taking Nona's side as well. It's very rare that a novel can present both sides of such a serious argument without the first person being overly judgmental.
Carleen, you're my Nina Simone. I look forward to reading your other books.