Thursday, January 2, 2014

Book Review: "The Coldest Winter Ever" by Sister Souljah

Winter Santiaga is her father's princess; she's his first born and nothing is good enough for her.  She is taught that a man provides for the women, and that it is a woman's job to look good and please the men.  However, when her father's drug empire is taken down by the authorities, Winter has to learn how to survive on her own.  After all, her sisters are taken away by Child Welfare Services and her mother becomes a drug addict when the father goes to jail.  It isn't easy for Winter to navigate this new reality..  she needs to find a way to make money and figure out who she can trust.

I don't think this is a book I would have picked up on my own, so I am very thankful that it was assigned for class reading.  This was such a good book - a gripping story with incredibly well crafted characters.  Winter is such a wonderfully flawed main character.  She has such a skewed sense of priorities through no fault of her own - this is what she knows, these are the rules of her Brooklyn project culture.   So many times I wanted to yell at her, try to get her to think beyond herself, to not be so shallow and materialistic...  she was so frustrating!

As a word nerd, I was also really intrigued and impressed by the use of language here too.  The words used are true to life, and creates a more authentic atmosphere for the story.  The language really helps shape the character's attitudes and personalities and really helped me connect and understand their world.  It kind of reminded me of Their Eyes Were Watching God in this way, yet more contemporary.

This was a story that I found myself completely wrapped up in, and blew through it in just a couple days.  The edition I read also had a lengthy question and answer section, which I just sort of skimmed through even though I really did like the book.  There was also a full list of characters which I did read through - mostly to remember some of the minor characters, especially those that briefly appeared in the beginning.  While I don't expect to read the other books set in this world (I think there are three additional books), I really thought this was a fantastic book.
The Coldest Winter Ever
by Sister Souljah
Pocket Books, 1999
534 pages
Source:  Library


3 comments: said...

What did you think of Souljah appearing as a character in the book?

Sarah Reads Too Much said...

I thought it an interesting choice, and wonder how true-to-life she depicted herself. I don't doubt that she does good work for the benefit of the community; while the character Souljah did what she could to help Santiaga, I appreciated that she was unable to save her completely.

Sarah Reads Too Much said...

And by that I mean that Santiaga was still very selfish at that point, and wasn't mature enough to gain the perspective that Souljah was offering.

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