Its books like this that I am grateful to myself for starting this blog so I can have a good chitter chatter to myself about it.
The book is written in first person from the perspective of thirteen year old winter Santiaga who is the daughter of a major kingpin drug dealer in the projects of Brooklyn.
Winter is the apple of her father’s eye and wants for nothing, her father Ricky Santiaga looks after her every need, trains her up on how to look out for herself in the projects, her mother coaches her about how to carry herself as a woman in the hood and how to deal with men.
Ricky Santiaga is ruling the projects with his drug dealing operation, his family members, police, and young men living in the projects all working for him.
One day Ricky Santiaga decides it is time to move the whole family out of the projects and over to Long Island in a mansion situated in a well to do area, Winter hates this idea she is used to running things in the Brooklyn projects where she is well know because of her father.
Once out of the Brooklyn projects winter starts to get restless and tries to find ways of getting back down to Brooklyn to hang out with her people, her mother is also bored and restless the only one that seems satisfied with the move was Ricky.
Soon everything starts to go wrong and Winter’s high rolling world comes crashing down and she is left to defend for herself.
You know when a book is good when you stay up all night to finish it with your little reading light!.
This is a compelling and captivating story, it is so well written that it could be mistaken as a true story. Not only is it well written but this book was written for a specific purpose of showing how drugs effect communities, individuals and families.
I had great fun reading this book from Winters point of view because she was young and naive with a huge attitude to go, the way she thought about things were definitely laugh out load at times, she got by on only remembering the way her father and her mother had advised her to believe, she refused to take on anyone else’s perspective on life. There was no telling her nothing her way was the only way.
Winter is a very tough street girl and is used to having everything her way to the point of cutting everyone else down in the process, in the start of the book she is about 12 and by the end of the book she is 24. Winter is in love with her fathers right hand man, Midnight, he has shown no interest in her, which she cannot understand because as far as she is concerned no woman is better than her. She plots and schemes every which way to try to seduce Midnight but he does not fall for it.
Another interesting and funny thing about the book was that the author was a character in the book as herself, and Winter hates Sister Souljah in the book so the way Sister Souljah writes about Winters dislike of herself is brilliant.
The language used in the book was that of a teenager growing up in the hood very street and not to mention explicit, I would definitely say that is quite shocking material in this book for anyone under the age of 15 maybe 16 I could be being over cautious here, but I am not sure I would give this book to my son to read at an age younger than 15. At the same time the language used is what made me get sucked into this book it amused me at times and it also made the story real.
Quoted from the first page of the book: ‘Brooklyn-born I don’t have no sob stories for you about rats and roaches and pissy-pew hallways. I came busting out of my momma’s big coochie on January 28 1977, during one of New York’s worst snowstorms. So my mother named me Winter. My father was so proud of his new baby girl that he had a limo waiting to pick my moms up from the hospital.’
There are so many different elements to think about in the story line that I could go on for ever talking about all the issues raised in this book. The copy I have was lent to me by my brother he said it is his favourite book, this book has a special collector’s edition reader’s guide and I feel it is important for me to make use of that in this review without going on to long, the author, Sister Souljah goes into great detail in this section of the book as to why she wrote the book she includes character analysis for each character and Ask the author Top Ten Questions. This section is such a bonus after reading this section you will appreciate the story even more because she will have good understanding of each character an the author.
I will quote some of it here from the book and summarise her answers as they are long in depth answers.
Q. Why did you choose to focus on and write about drugs in your first novel?
Sister Soulah talks about how she grew up in the projects around all the drugs and crime and how her mother took her round and showed her what was happening to people hooked on drugs. Growing up Sister Souljah was a deep thinker, analysed everything, she analysed her family and the people that lived in the projects and how drugs were affecting people and the community. This is what inspired her to base her story on drugs to make a point of the effect drugs have on communities and how they can wreck individual lives and also families.
Q. Is ‘The Coldest Winter Ever’ a true story?
Sister Souljah’s answer is; No. My novel is not based on a true story. However, it is based on real events that happen everyday. That’s why it feels so real. The Ghetto is real. Jail is real. The state is real. The consequences of drugs are the most real; the shootings, disappearances, kidnappings, murders, the slow death, the quick spurts of wealth, shopping sprees, and then shocking downfalls to poverty. All of that is real. So many people have felt The Coldest Winter Ever so deeply. They believe that it is their own story.
And then she goes on more in depth on this question.
There are more questions and answers at the end of the book to read. Luckily for me there is a second book to the The Coldest Winter Ever called Midnight which is based on the man Winter was in love with in the first book but could not get as much as she tried he was not returning her feelings and on top of that he was her father’s right hand man. Thanks to Simon & Schuster who have ordered me ‘Midnight’ and are going to send it to me for review, I am so excited I NEED to read it.