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The Coldest Winter Ever

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  25,611 Ratings  ·  1,925 Reviews
Renowned hip-hop artist, writer, and activist Sister Souljah brings the streets of New York to life in a powerful and utterly unforgettable first novel.

I came busting into the world during one of New York's worst snowstorms, so my mother named me Winter.

Ghetto-born, Winter is the young, wealthy daughter of a prominent Brooklyn drug-dealing family. Quick-witted, sexy, and b
ebook, 544 pages
Published November 30th 2010 by Washington Square Press (first published April 1st 1999)
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Apr 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Winter Santiaga is a spoiled, materialistic, troubled teenager. Throughout the novel, she is constantly trying to "stay on top". She grows up in the ghetto with a father who is a drug kingpin. Her father spoils her rotten and her mother feeds into this. They finally move out of the ghetto and into a rich, suburban area. Winter feels isolated and needs to go back to the ghetto and brag to her friends and complete strangers.

Winter also sees no problem with spending a few hundred dollars on an out
David has insinuated that this novel is in some way comparable to Hitler or Mariah Carey, which I think is unfair. This book has been responsible neither for the attempted extinction of a race of people, nor for Glitter and dog-whistle mimicry. It is not a book that is going to stay in my heart for a long period of time, but one does care about the characters, and she writes vividly and is never boring. And that is enough for three stars, considering this was not a book I chose to read myself, s ...more
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love love this book..a classic,ruthless,blunt and full of cliffhangers...encourage everyone to read this book...(paperback!)
May 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bechdel-pass
I would be rating this book more highly if I hadn't read the explanatory notes at the back! It had me struggling to drop off at night as I couldn't wait to find out what Winter would do next to recover from the disintegration of her life as the over-indulged daughter of a very rich Brooklyn drug dealer. Despite being almost a caricature of materialism and self-interest, Winter is so inventive and sharp I found it impossible not to root for her through most of her exploits, though she hurt many p ...more
Mar 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: If You Like the Urban Genre
Shelves: streetlit
This is the ultimate "hood lit" novel, but Souljah does it with such style, not amateurism.
Jul 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teenagers, urban
Oooo, Winter Santiaga is so mean! Yet, so likeable. She's a total Scarlett O'Hara character.

Also, way to drop some crazy metafiction in there, Sister Souljah! And feminism. This book is a classic in the making. It's probably the next A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Jul 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book because it was very real...not that I know anything about the ghetto, but it kept my interest because it was written from a real life perspective. I was always yelling at the main character in the book for being a complete idiot, but that's why I loved it too.
Oh boy I completely devoured this book. It was so much better than I expected. It takes real life situations and makes them accessible to everyone. I didn't like Winter as a character but boyyy is her story like so many other young women who get caught up in an endless cycle of trying to keep up with a lifestyle that's not realistic especially when it's funded by drug money. I definitely will be checking out the next book in this series even though it's not necessarily a direct sequel.
Paul Bryant
Oct 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I like to read outside of my comfort zone. But this far out I probably needed a bathysphere. And now I got the bends.

Imagine you're reading On Cheshil Beach by Ian McEwan, and after the famous wedding night scene a friend of Florence told her that her and Edward should really go and see this highly recommended marriage guidance councellor, so they decide to give it a shot, and it turns out to be a guy called Ian McEwan, who is this lovely wise person who they instantly trust. And he dispenses hi
Mar 23, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Overrated that’s what I first thought when I finished reading the Coldest Winter Ever by sister souljah. I thought the book was a let down for all the people thinking they are going to read the greatest novel in urban literature. I could not stand the naive ness of the character’s Winter, Ricky Santiaga and her mother. I believe she made it seem like all black people from the hood didn’t know any better. It was a stupid idea for her to add her own self in the story. Sister Souljah was mentioned ...more
Khashayar Mohammadi
I might have enjoyed the book more if she had not written herself into the novel as a free-spirited woman, helping children who have "Lost their way" without playing any significant part in the narrative other than boisterously portraying how much she's above all these women. Only a narcissist can write herself into her own novel as a "Deus Ex-Machina".

All that set aside; even Swann's way does not have a 80 page appendix explaining its intricacies. I do not see the point of an 80 page (once agai
Mar 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*Updated review *
Now I remember why I started to explore books by Black authors. I tried to remember what made me enjoy reading so much and, after rereading The Coldest Winter Ever, now I've got it. I always enjoyed reading but there was a time when books seemed to come alive for me and it is marked by Sister Souljah's first novel. I grew up in the suburbs and know nothing of life in New York, the drug game, etc. But I've always felt The Coldest Winter Ever. I learned the importance of connectin
Tanya Urban Fantasy Freak
I read this book back in my early twenties, Like one reviewer states Winter is like Scarlett O'hara - a mean bitch but you can't help but to root for her! She's vain, spoiled, selfish and will do anything to make it - But I have to respect her survival skills.

Winter is the beautiful first born daughter of a drug kingpin in Brooklyn, She's treated like a ghetto princess. Of course you know what usually happens with drug kingpins - the father goes to jail and all their bank accounts & valuabl
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is one of those deals where the historical impact of a novel forces you to separate the socio-cultural relevance from the actual literal content to objectively criticize it. As a result, it also makes criticizing it more difficult than is apparent at first glance. Souljah's book has been heralded as a "classic" and she herself, in the appendix, states that she wanted to write a book that was "the best novel I ever read in my lifetime." The key here is that she does not say "the best pi ...more
I am a little embarrassed that I hadn't read this one before--it was published about 10 years ago but it still seems to be THE book by which all urban fiction is judged. And I can see why.

It's compulsively readable. Winter Santiago is the teenaged daughter of the man who controls the Brooklyn drug trade. She grew up in luxury, and no less obsessed with fashion labels and image than any Gossip Girl. But when her father's business collapses, she is determined to make use of her pretty face (and he
Sep 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Took me 65 pg to get in to it.... But so worth it!!
Apr 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could not put this book down, no matter what was going on around me. This world was far from my world, yet it was so real. How long does it take to learn a lesson?
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: twice-read
Now I remember why this is my all time fav!

My opinion of Souljah dwindled after reading the three books that followed this in the series. (Two of the Midnight books and Porsche's book) I found her writing style to be all over the place and heavily laced with personal and sometimes offensive opinions. Re-reading this story made me fall in love with the characters and the author all over again.

What I love about this novel over the others is while the opinions are still there, it is not as blatant
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading the Coldest Winter Ever and to my amazement I was displeased with the ending but I understand the message clearly. I can not get the sting of how she captured the essence of how clothes, hair, jewelry, houses, and cars are just materialistic dust. Winter is the prime example of everything I've seen and have promised myself never to become. That means working long hours and spending way too much time angry over a B I might receive for a paper. I want better for my child an ...more
Feb 24, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book definitely moves along quickly and makes you wanna know what happens next. However, in order for me to like a book I either have to like the character or at least feel sympathy for the character. I neither liked nor felt sorry for Winter. She got everything she deserved and the end really didn’t state whether she really learned from her mistakes...and some of what happened to her — there was no reasoning behind it.

She got an abortion, so what? She didn’t learn anything. She got to live
Tiffany Reader
I really enjoyed this book. I can't wait to read the rest in the series. I just Winter would've chose a better decisions but hey when your back is up against the wall, you'll do anything by any means to survive. Read this book. Its worth it.
Me'Tova Hollingsworth
Finally done. The only problem I had with this book was that it was mad long. Other than that the story was banging, and it went hard from out the gate, so I had to give it five stars.
Read this years ago (it is THE book that made me want to be a writer) and loved it. Reading it again with my Teens Book Club.
Yeah yeah I know this book is old like 1999 and for the record yes I have read it before but after reading both Midnight books and then seeing her highly anticipated sequel A Deeper Love Inside: the Porsche Santiaga story I realized I needed a refresher as I don't remember all the details on Porsche or I didn't even remember all the backstory you get on I reread this hood classic and was just as mesmerized and intrigued by this sordid and real tale as I was when I first read it oh s ...more
she took us on a roller coasterr ride! she was magnificent
Eva Leger
Sep 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has thought about reading it and waited!
Recommended to Eva by: myself
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
African Americans on the Move Book Club
Jul 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: yes
AAMBC Book Review, May 26, 2008

You can't say your a true book reader, if you havent read this book by sister souljah. One of the best street novels you would ever want to get your hands on. Winter Santiago is a spoiled brat and when her world is turned into a full 360 she has to find a way to survive. If you think you can use your body to get you what you want, your are in dullison. But Winter thought she could. When it is all said and done Winter is in a place that she never thought she would
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-american
Gosh, this took me forever to read. But in the end I enjoyed it. Some places the story was slow paced, and I was turned off by the ignorant main character, Winter. But overrall, Souljah did a fantastic job weaving a story about about the ghetto, the struggle, and the hustle of New York. The characters all had interesting, distinctive, unique personalities, and there are many places in the story, you will find yourself relating to. The book leaves a lot of things unresolved, and that always bothe ...more
Jessica Savage
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody
Recommended to Jessica by: Dawn Hollingsworth
This book was surprisingly amazing! It evoked thoughts for me that were endless. I read this book a long time ago and I still remember things about it and think about it. It made me realize that it is very easy to think your way of life is "normal," but it showed that what may be an outlandish way of living to me may be "normal" to someone else. Everyone grows up differently with different experiences. Also fascinating to me was the way that people can follow in their parents footsteps no matter ...more
I lent my copy away with less than 100 pages to go, and it hasn't come back to me. I'm not compelled enough to get a new one, even borrowed from the library, so I'm just gonna call this thing "read." It was oddly compelling reading, but took me to a place I didn't like, with a character I pretty much hated. I'm glad to be familiar with this work, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone younger than 18, simply because the "moral" of the story, the whole point the book is making, doesn't come full c ...more
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Sister Souljah is an American hip hop-generation author, activist, recording artist, and film producer.
More about Sister Souljah...
“Are you crazy? The last thing you want to do is make a scene." "Well, I'm gonna make a movie if you don't show me some respect.” 18 likes
“Now I realized that me and him were just alike. We were both born to win. And, when we were not winning, it was OK 'cause we were busy planning to win.” 17 likes
More quotes…