Ezinwanyi's Reviews > The Warmest December

The Warmest December by Bernice L. McFadden
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's review
Jan 31, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: african-american-fiction

This one was about letting go and breaking cycles.

This book starts with a young woman’s hospital visit to the bedside of her dying father. As Kenzie Lowe takes this journey to see Hyman “Hy-lo” Lowe, she also takes a stroll down memory lane. However this walk is a very painful one.
She remembers a life of physical, emotional and mental abuse at the hands of her alcoholic father. She remembers how his alcoholism ravaged her childhood, and subsequently her adulthood. She remembers her mother Delia and her brother Malcolm’s suffering, which was in concert with her own. As she remembers, she questions herself as to why she is at this monster’s bedside, and why she keeps returning there.
At the beginning of the story, I was sure that Kenzie came to ensure that Hy-Lo was really dead, especially since she had been praying for his death since she was 5 years old. But at the end, it was clear that she was not taking pleasure in his slow descent to death’s door. It was hard for Kenzie to look at the man that she has hated for so long, but I guess she came to confront her demons. So it was an opportunity for her to get some closure and possibly some answers. It was powerful and heart wrenching. I hate alcoholism!

I was struck at how Kenzie and her family seemed to have moved on, but they really had not moved on. They were still held hostage by powerful memories and they were fighting a battle against enslavement by the same demons that haunted her father. We were given a glimpse into Hy-lo’s childhood, but I was only moved slightly. This man terrorized his family and I didn’t want to forgive him for that. But I cannot deny that learning about Hy-lo’s childhood and his abuse did have an effect. I can acknowledge that studies shows that victims of abuse often become abusers. So he was only perpetuating what he learned and what was done to him. I do wish the author had given Hy-lo a moment to voice his feelings. But maybe a lesson that the author was trying to impart is that we have to make our own closure and take control of our own lives despite what others may do to us. I hope that seeing Hy-lo’s feet gave Kenzie’s feet freedom to go somewhere that she could finally find peace and hopefully happiness.

I give this book four starts because book was very real and gave a moving account of how insidious generational curses can be. I admit that I wanted a happier ending, but I applaud the author for keeping this book real and consistent. I also applaud her for tackling such a painful subject with brutal honesty. The lesson that I took from this book is that the journey to forgiveness is a step at a time. It’s an inner struggle, but it can be done, a step at a time.

***e-arc by LibraryThing Early Reviewer***

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