Can I just say…I’m so glad that I decided to make the effort to read more authors of color this year. I have discovered so many authors and I’m hoping that by reading and reviewing their books they are getting some much-deserved exposure.
Synthia Williams is a new-to-me author. We actually began following each other on twitter not too long after I decided to begin this project. I hope that we are creating a community where we can support and uplift each other.
Making It Real is the third book in The Henderson Family Series. I did not read the previous two books so I’m fairly confident in saying that this book can be read as a standalone.
This is a really brave book, you guys.
It tackles two topics that are rarely ever discussed in the black community: eating disorders and what happens to our men when they go to prison and after they get out.
I know what you’re thinking…
These are some heavy topics for a romance novel, right? They aren’t though. Trust me, they aren’t.
After spending five years in prison for gang activity in his youth, Kareem Henderson is trying to start his life over. It would be easy to mention here how disproportionally black men are arrested and sentenced for petty and misdemeanor crimes and how having a felony on his record prevents them from making anything of themselves after they get out, but we already know that. Luckily Kareem has a fairly successful family that he can lean on though he resists any and all help they offer to save his pride. The source of that crippling pride is what makes this book so brave. Lots of jokes and dismissals are made for prison culture and society or should I say, Americans gloss over the horrible things that happen to them there. We just pat them on the back, throw a barbecue to celebrate their return home. There is no real acknowledgment of the type of trauma that they can carry with them in their life outside of prison. And this is exactly what Kareem deals with.
Patrice “Neecie” Baldwin has a problem that is far more common in the black community than we really know. Though I’m not really okay with how the problem is presented to the reader, like a poor little rich girl problem, it doesn’t remove the validity of Neecie’s feelings or the reality of what caused her to resort to this type of self-harm in the first place. I would have liked if there was a larger conversation about how black women have to conform to the white standard to be considered beautiful, but Williams tackled this problem and handled it well in the parameters that she set. Seamlessly blending romance with difficult topics in a way that is respectful while still keeping things hot.
Again this was a brave and well-written book. I will definitely read her again.