Sister Souljah’s latest falls short

Sistah Souljah, the critically acclaimed author of the best-selling novel, The Coldest Winter Ever, has done it again. After a two-year hiatus, she returns with Midnight, a “gangsta love story” and prequel to the former novel in which she explores the past of Winter Santiago’s mysterious love interest, Midnight.

The novel begins by explaining the customs, traditions and beliefs of Midnight’s home in Africa. There is a brief sketch of his history as a small child, his relationship with his father and his father’s relationship with his many wives. The story quickly fast-forwards to then-seven-year-old Midnight’s arrival in the United States with his pregnant mother, and their quest to survive in the mean Brooklyn projects. The novel follows Midnight’s daily life as a mixed-martial arts fighter to his participation in a hustler’s basketball league. His thoughts on the world around him and his ambitions as a 14-year-old taking care of his mother and younger sister, Naja, are also explored.

Please be advised-readers seeking the excitement, drama and unexpected twists and turns of The Coldest Winter Ever that kept fans on the edge of their seats, this is not the book for you.

Aside from the lack of action and painfully slow plot development, the book lacks the colorful language and vivid imagery Souljah perfectly crafts in her other works. Coupled with that are Souljah’s static characters. There is no mention of the beautiful Winter Santiago, nor her family, who provided Midnight’s income in The Coldest Winter Ever.

Adding insult to injury is the abundance of negative remarks about African-American culture. While it is a known fact that Souljah wishes to reform poverty-stricken communities and provide an honest look at African American culture, her attempt to do so translated into a brutally harsh criticism of the “Black American” in comparison to the foreign members of her stale cast of characters.

Issues of sex, marriage and family life are brought to light and judged by the prepubescent main character.

While the book isn’t a difficult read, it falls short of expectations and clearly is not worth the $30 price tag. The “gangsta love story” promised on the cover of the book never comes to fruition-it should probably say something like a “highly-unrealistic love story” because there is nothing gangsta about an African man-excuse me, boy– and an Asian woman-I mean, 16-year-old girl–who can’t even communicate because they speak two totally different languages.

Frankly, as an adult, there’s nothing even slightly interesting about a couple of teenagers claiming to be in love.

The combination of slow plot, stale characters and wordiness will put readers to sleep in a matter of minutes. Souljah gets an “A” for effort, but the book reeks.