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The Warmest December

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,379 ratings  ·  112 reviews
Sugar, Bernice L. McFadden's bestselling debut novel, was hailed by critics and fellow authors alike. Ebony called it "unforgettable . . . unique . . . a haunting story that keeps the pages turning until the end." Terry McMillan praised it as "one of the most compelling and thought-provoking novels I've read in years." Now this Blackboard award-winning author returns to th ...more
eBook, 256 pages
Published December 31st 2002 by Plume Books (first published January 1st 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,819)
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Beth F.
This was a painful and heartbreaking story to read. Kenzie Lowe is a grown woman who is holding a bedside vigil for her dying father. Her father had been an alcoholic for his entire life. And when Hy-Lo drank, he became dangerous and violent, preying on Kenzie, her mother and her younger brother. Eventually, Kenzie and her mother both start drinking as a means to cope with the pain and Kenzie finds herself struggling for much of her adult life with alcoholism, holding down a steady job and blami ...more
You know how there is one trait, or habit, or attitude that we hate about our parents, then we vow to ourselves that we will never be like them? And later on, are you self-conscious enough to recognize your parents in your speech, actions, decisions? When this happens, do you think that you could have done better, having vowed many years ago that you will never be like your mother and/or father.

I had thought this book was a novel about Christmas, but I was so wrong. It relates the story of Kenzi
Amazing. AMAZING. AMAZZZING!! (I'm still in a bit of a shock over this one. Yes, it was amazing.
Originally post on my blog guiltless reading

The choice to forgive is yours.

The book in one sentence: A young woman strives to make sense of a life touched by alcoholism and abuse.

My two cents: This is one of those books that you don't really know what to expect ... and come away feeling that you got more than you bargained for. In an astounding way. I have never read any of McFadden's work, I ha
I read this book 10 years ago and I can still remember how my blood boiled hot from anger while reading it. It is a riveting and powerful story about abuse, alcoholism, and the amazing will to forgive your tormentor. In this case Kenzie struggles with the fact that her father who plague her, her mother, and brother with years of abuse--and he is now dying. She has also succumb to alcoholism losing her lover, job, and is on welfare. She sits at his side while remembering the past and all his abus ...more
Shonell Bacon
Raw and painful - beautiful writing.
On the one hand, I loved this book. One another hand I despised it. The author wrote a work of fiction that reads like a heart wrenching memoir. You want to turn away due to the insane violence that rages through Kenzie's household, but you can't. You want to reach in and collect these children from their dysfuncional-beyond-all-belief home, but again - you can't.

The cycle of alcoholism and abuse is rampant. Bring into it the generational component in which children do what is modeled for them.
Cassandra Hawkins-Wilson
"The Warmest December" was a book filled with pain. The prevalence of emotional, mental, physical abuse swallowed the plot of this book. The predictable uncertain cycles, living in abuse, bearing down on the victims, is amazingly portrayed in this book. McFadden illustrates how from one generation to the next the abuse keeps going and the bottles keep being the soother of the pain. The surreal pain present makes you feel sorry, makes you cringe, makes you shake your head, makes you want to help, ...more
This was a very difficult read because of the things that happened in apartment 5A. I had to chunk my reading of this because it was sometimes too much to take at one seating. So, I'd read some, put the book away and marinate on what I'd read, and then go back and read more. I also was very upset with Kenzie's mother for staying to deal with the things. But I absolutely love the way Bernice McFadden allowed us to see the unraveling of Kenzie's character and who she became as a result of all she ...more
Winter Sophia Rose
Spellbinding, Gripping, Emotional, Riveting & Encouraging! A Powerful Story! I Loved It!
This book is simply amazing, and I am very thankful I stumbled upon it in the library. Its a poignant look inside the lives of a family living with an alcoholic and abusive father, who strikes his children as often as his wife. The writing is beautiful - I could picture Hy-lo's smug grins in my mind perfectly, making my blood boil in anger along with his children and wife's. I hope that more people stumble across this book - very, very good.
This one was a hard read in that it was extremely painful, and at times I wanted to stop reading. While this was a work of fiction it felt like I was getting a glimpse into the life of an alcoholic. What also added to the sense of realism, was the setting. The Brooklyn landmarks and neighborhoods intensifies the despair and longing of its characters. It felt as if I were right back on the blocks, avenues, blvds, and streets which were as tough as they were nurturing - nurturers of survivors.

Brooke Blackwell
This was a great book, it opened my eyes to how hard life can be for family and children. And it challenged me to open my eyes to the trickle effect which occurs in many lives. This is a must read.
Violent alcoholics beget violent alcoholics beget... Pretty much everybody in this beautifully written novel is in agony. They are each perpetrators and victims, the tormentors and the ones suffering from a brutal disease. The cycle appears to be endless, but Kenzie is fighting to break the pattern. This novel, which is told from her point of view, is filled with unfathomable cruelty that it seems nobody would be foolish enough to stick around and take. Surely fleeing for their lives is an optio ...more
Not for the faint of heart, this book is about Kenzie, a woman with many memories and little time to reconcile them. Holding vigil at the side of Hy-Lo, her father, as he lies dying in a hospital bed, Kenzie's memory is filled with the horrific abuse she, her brother and mother suffered at Hy-Lo's hands. All her life, Kenzie always wished her father would die, but not that time is upon him and Kenzie is not quite ready to let him go. In the 13th hour, however, Kenzie learns why her father was an ...more
Doriana Bisegna
This novel of a dysfunctional family in Brooklyn, New York in the 60's and 70's is compelling, heartbreaking and tough to read. Kenzie Lowe thinks back on her childhood with an alcoholic, abusive father, a beat up Mom and her defenseless little brother Malcolm. She does this while sitting by her dying father's bedside and tries to make sense of what her life has been and become until now. As Toni Morrison says about this novel "Searing and Expertly Imagined" and I couldn't say it any better than ...more
(FROM JACKET)For Kenzie, growing up in the Lowe home means opening the bottom drawer of her father's dresser to choose which belt she'll be whipped with that night, furtive trips to the Bee Hive liquor store for her father's vodka, and dreaming of the day she can escape apartment A5.
Buoyed by the lyrical, redemptive voice that distinguished Bernice L. McFadden's earlier novel, "The Warmest December" tells the powerful, deeply moving story of one family and the alcoholism and abuse that marked al
I have read many of McFadden's books, but this one had such a different feel to it. I was drawn in the first page. The descriptive manner in which she provides allows one to feel as if they were present in the very room with the characters. It opens the viewer to the mind of a child who is suffering abuse by the very one who is suppose to be the protector. The vicious cycle of life that one generation passes on down to another. I cried my eyes out a moments in this book. It is on my shelf as one ...more
Cheers to McFadden for The Warmest December. This chilling account of how alcoholism had a tight grip on the Lowe family is deep and detailed. This story will probably remain in my memory bank for years to come. I felt like a fly on the wall, wanting to save each family member one by one. McFadden is a phenomenal storyteller, a literary genius! By the end of the story, it's difficult to hate Hy-Lo, given his past. I found myself savoring this novel, down to the very last page. I'm highly impress ...more
What a tragic story. There were moments that were so overwhelming and I wanted to put the book down but keep reading at the same time. There are moments that just took my breath away and shook me to my core. My heart ached for Kenzie, Malcolm and Delia. Bernice L. McFadden writes with a searing honesty and poignancy that leaves you breathless. This is the most heart breaking I've ever read. I felt everything the characters felt as if it were happening to me. This book has given me a new perspect ...more
I've read two books of hers within the last 7 days and I am now addicted. I definitely plan to read all she has to offer. My goodness, this book was a page-turner. Extremely emotional. I felt so bad for Kenzie and her situation. Bernice makes you sympathize with each and every character that's introduced. No one is left behind. It was brilliant. Can't wait to read her other books.
I'd actually give this 4 1/2 stars if I could. This was such a horrifying, dark story of domestic violence that it was, at times, very difficult to read, and I found myself actually having to put it down for a time before I could come back to it. There was such raw truth in the telling that you have to wonder how close to home this novel is for the author.
I saw myself, in some ways, while reading this book and that's why it was hard for me to push it away and just be okay with it being a part of my book collection. But, it was that connection to Kenzie as a child living with an abusive father that propelled me to keep reading...keep on reading. I would not suggest someone read this book while in throes of abuse as the all too familiar reality of a woman staying with a man who beats her beyond recognition in some cases would feel like she should s ...more
Tragic story; very difficult to read. Beautifully written view into the life of a family plagued by generations of abuse and alcoholism.
this isn't the type of book I'd usually read but I was in the mood for something different and ended up really liking this. it is heartbreaking and captivating to follow the story of Kenzie, growing up the daughter of s long line of abusive alcoholics...but there is an underlying tone of forgiveness that keeps you reading.
I really enjoyed "Sugar" and "This Bitter Earth", so I thought I would also enjoy this one. However, found it be a story that did not really go anywhere and had some pretty cheesy metaphors. I will probaby try another of hers in the future, but this one was a really depressing story.
I thought this book was very good. It kept me intrigued by the telling of Kenzie's life and the really bad childhood she had. I wish Malcolm made it though. The book made me think of my own childhood and it taught me that I need to forgive in order to move on.
This beautiful but heart-wrenching novel speaks to darkness (alcoholism, domestic violence, fear, and poverty) that can run through families. At the same time, it reveals the power of redemption and forgiveness.
This book is haunting and dark, but I enjoyed reading it and seeing how the story unravelled.
Tana Fisher
It was one of the saddest books I've ever read. Her writing is beautiful and real. Her father was an alcoholic and there are many secrets that this woman uncovers while her father is on his deathbed.
A very passionate look into the life of a damaged family. The writing is beautiful and intriguing. I couldn't stop reading even when I felt like crying. I also enjoyed her book, Sugar.

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I am a national bestselling, award winning Brooklyn born and bred author who writes to breathe life back into memory.

Peace & Light,

Bernice L. McFadden

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