I was prepared to sit down and read Lessons in Living in one sitting. However, the book turned oLessons In Living By Cynthia P. White
A Delightful Read
I was prepared to sit down and read Lessons in Living in one sitting. However, the book turned out to be several short stories on life lessons. It felt more like daily devotionals, so I read it that way…a story a day.
The stories are filled with insight and examples that can be applied to everyday life. The first life lesson, What I Learned from My Toro, by Dr. White, brought back memories of buying my home and being determined to do it on my own. The lessons of self-reliance, perseverance, and determination are real. The contributors share stories, some light and others heavy burdens that had to carry. Stories of perseverance and triumph and overcoming insurmountable odds fill the pages of this inspirational literary work. Whether it’s the accomplishment of learning to operate your first lawn mower, dealing with the unexpected death of a spouse, or God’s awesomeness when a mother, along with her daughter and granddaughter learn to trust God during a period of homelessness; these experiences teach the reader that at any moment it could be us…But God!
Lessons In Living is an emotional journey that I encourage others to take. It is also a great gift and coffee table read. My only disappointment in the book was wanting more back story and current updates on the pieces shared.
God Help the Child by Toni Morrison is her latest novel and the first (I believe) to be set in the current time period. The story opens with the birtGod Help the Child by Toni Morrison is her latest novel and the first (I believe) to be set in the current time period. The story opens with the birth of the main character, Lula Ann Bridewell, who later becomes just “Bride.” She is a blue-black baby with odd eyes and even odder hair texture. She’s such an aberration that her father leaves and her mother seemingly goes into hiding to protect her from the cold harsh world. A landlord finally rents them a place, but charges extra for his troubles. Morrison then reveals that it is the nineties, oh the 1890s, no it’s the 1990s. The story picks up twenty plus years later and Lula Ann is now a successful cosmetic exec who has learned to embrace her blackness by wearing only white clothing, and calling herself Bride. Although society loves her she struggles with her mother/daughter issues, which tend to hinder her adult relationships.
What should have been a beautiful love story between Bride and her lover Booker, gets muddled in several storylines that simply were not interwoven well enough to make the story flow, inevitably causing them to seem random and out of place. I wished Morrison would give us a novel that is not mired in sexual abuse, child molestation, colorism and the ever-disappearing black man, but this would not be the case. A complex love affair becomes the side-story to a child-molestation case that had an eerie resemblance to the McMartin Pre-School scandal of the nineties, and the Atlanta child murders of the late seventies, early eighties. I understood where she was trying to go using these as the backdrops for the characters backstory, the execution just wasn’t there. The book, at 178 pages, seemed rushed and underdeveloped with various characters speaking from their own perspective, but not strong or in-depth enough to tie it all together or show relevance to the plot.
I am a huge fan of Ms. Morrison’s work, but this one just didn’t capture my heart. Bride and Booker are two multifaceted characters and their story deserved so much more. I had very high expectations for God Help the Child , but it simply fell flat for me. My final rating is 3 stars.
Red Light Green Light by Margaret Johnson Hodge is the story of Craig Stephens, a 40 something Crack addict, 43 days clean when the tragedy of 9/11 hiRed Light Green Light by Margaret Johnson Hodge is the story of Craig Stephens, a 40 something Crack addict, 43 days clean when the tragedy of 9/11 hits. He embarks on a journey to find his long lost love, a woman he has not been in a relationship with in over 20 years.
I can’t recall a book having me so emotionally, mentally and spiritually drained. But isn’t that the mark of a great writer? Their words seep into your soul and make you feel emotions, good or bad, for the main players in the story. To take the reader on a journey they otherwise would not experience. Well Red Light Green Light took me to the depth of drug addiction, a place I never ever want to go again and grateful it was on the pages of a book.
There were many times when I just wanted to turn the page and learn that Craig had OD’d, putting everyone in his path out of their misery. Loving, caring, looking out for a drug addict is as exhausting as being one. But with every page I held on to the hope that this time Craig would be stronger, this time he would do the right thing. Sometimes he did, and sometimes he didn’t.
The people in his corner were committed for the long haul. Brother Rahiem, his sponsor, Mrs. Raymond, his landlord who did her best to do for Craig what she couldn’t do for her own son, save him from himself. And his parents who would do whatever to save their son.
On his journey to find his lost love, Juliet “Gazelle” Sumpter, he crosses paths with her elderly grandmother and a host of strange neighbors. Everyone seems to need from Craig something he can’t give them, which only feeds into his need for his next hit of the pipe.
At first I thought this story would be about unconditional love and a love that stands the test of time, and maybe it was. But in the end it felt more about needing and taking to ward off loneliness and feeling complete. Craig was not the nicest person; he was a user and felt the world owed him something although he never earned anything. After surviving the horror of 9/11 Gazelle struggles with her feelings for Craig, even after learning all the sordid details of what life as an addict really means. I felt she was more willing to forgive his transgressions to keep from starting over alone.
Johnson Hodge receives much praise for pulling this powerful story together. She is known for writing sequels to catch readers up on the characters in her books. I’m not sure what a sequel for Red Light Green Light would look like, but maybe just maybe Gazelle made the right choice in giving Craig and herself another chance at life and love.