Sister Souljah | March 2021 | 352 pp
This book might literally sum up 2021: “I wanted to love it.” 😞 Souljah’s latest book has gotten mixed reviews, for sure. Because of that, I wanted to skip it. All the better to preserve my memory of Winter Santiago..but my 25yo self wouldn’t rest. 🤦🏾♀️ She’d read Coldest Winter Ever and wanted to revisit her story and catch up. Next time 25yo Shawn pops up, remind me to punch her.
Where to begin? Winter is soon to be released from jail and finds herself surrounded by people she’s decided is less than her. Less fly, less rich, less than smart with far less potential, than her jailbird ass. Winter’s highest priority, on the eve of getting released from jail, is negotiating the flyest outfit for her to wear and having, whom she regards as the flyest man, pick her up in a fly car. No matter the man is in a relationship with another woman – she knows she can steal him away. I know your head hurts. Take a Tylenol – we have a long way to go.
Upon release Winter is immediately shot and killed. No surprise, she wakes to find herself in hell. Yes, literal hell. Which she likens to her ‘Brooklyn hood’ and sets out to – can you guess? – get as fly as possible, find the flyest guy, no matter who he is with, and go to all the fly places. We follow Winter as she meets different characters in hell, we can only compare to the devil and his sons and their cohorts. She ultimately becomes deeply attracted to one man/demon and counts herself as one of his lovers. Because Winter is caught up on this guy/demon, she gets looped into hedonistic orgies, dark parties and all kinds of messy shit. She meets an angel like figure (maybe her mom?) that wants her to renounce it all and follow her into the light, but Winter sees that character as weak, like her mentally ill mom and doesn’t pay attention until way late in the book.
I read this book in April 2021, its now December. I still can’t give you a solid Pros/Cons on this thing. My emotional attachment to Winter1.0 (Coldest Winter Ever, published in ’99), is so strong, it wont allow me to completely hate the follow up. Winter was young, attractive, and attempting to navigate a world that resembled my own at one time. And though she wasn’t afraid to have fun, Winter felt strongly about her family and was loyal and serious about her future. This book makes me appreciate my journey. A part of me wants to write a letter to my younger 24yo self, praising her for living in the moment – being fly, curious, adventurous, spontaneous, even reckless. But also thanking her for getting out of her own way when it was time to grow up. There is nothing cute about being 45+ thinking a man or something you can buy will make you happy or fly. #Catch. I really wanted to see Winter get that same opportunity. I think that’s the disappointment many of us are expressing over book #2. We came to witness Winter’s journey to adulthood and instead got a 45yo dysfunctional, delusional, spoiled version of our former selves, still searching for the love of an absentee daddy, through absent, abusive partners. Bless her heart.
Another part of me peeps the method in Souljah’s madness. The fantasy ‘hell’ she creates for Winter revolve around the seven deadly sins: wrath, pride, sloth, greed, lust, envy, and gluttony. Winter has to navigate situations involving these sins until she is forced to either ask for redemption or reject it completely and stay in ‘hell’. A journey for sure, but not one I think most can immediately relate. And its buried so deep under really strong imagery and a tired ass story, I’m not sure folks that can relate, even care.
Pro: I’m reaching really deep here, mmmkay? Winter stopped maturing at 25 and has to learn a lot quickly. Unfortunately for her, that learning will happen after her death. The imagery, the crazy story lines, its all a front for a deeper story of sin and redemption. Stick with that and go on the ride – if you must.
Cons: Holy personal opinions Batman. Prepare to be triggered over Souljah’s archaic point of view on everything from abortion, mental health, homosexuality, misogyny, anal sex, religion, music, revenge and relationships. Not to mention Winters obsession with idolizing herself and her criminal and wholly absent father. Its equal opportunity offensive, so if you don’t see your particular ‘trigger’ listed here – trust its in the book. Scene’s are described in graphic detail but lag on far too long and seem completely disjointed from one another. Verbal vomit – Winters vocabulary stopped maturing at 25 so you could basically pay yourself $1 every time she says ‘fly’ and buy yourself a share in Google when the book ends. (go look up the stock price, I’ll wait.) Winters pride, envy and greed is so overpowering its physically painful to read at some points.
This is Souljah’s Revelations chapter. The finale that condemns us all unless we rebuke everything. I see you girl. I’m sure there was good intention and she has an imagination as strong as her opinions. If you feel/have felt stuck at any point in your life, if you struggle with pride, envy, or greed, or any of the deadly sins – this is your book. You will recognize yourself…and Souljah’s gonna take you straight to hell.
Good Book that I read honey, 31/2021.