Book Review: Through the Storm
Book Reviewed by Linda Watkins
Coming of age is no easy feat. I think everyone still cringes at mistakes
made as teenagers, which came from not listening to words of wisdom from mom and
dad, cuz we thought we already knew everything. In her debut novel, Through the
Storm, author Sha' Givens, reminds us of those complicated times when parents'
advice flew in one ear and out the other, all to advance our ill formed dreams
of love, friendship and independence.
In a seemingly quiet Los Angeles neighborhood we follow Givens two headstrong, naive seventeen-year-olds, Mahogany Malone and Jennifer Jones, through their secrets of misguided love, deception, and tragedy. Givens describes the emotional roller-coaster mind-set of teenage girls making the transition to womanhood with great insight and she possesses a descriptive writing style that is smooth and refreshing.
Mahogany Malone, who wants nothing more than for her over protective,
I-know-best, holier-than-thou mother to let her make her own choices, is typical of most young girls. Mahogany wants to date and she is so adamant about being with Steve, the slightly older, young man of her dreams -- whom Mother Malone knows is all wrong for her baby -- that she runs away. Predictably she gets her heart broken and comes back home, bitter, mistrustful and emotionally barren, driving an even deeper wedge in the torn relationship with her mother that will last for years to come.
Jennifer Jones, Mahogany's seemingly got-it-all-together best friend, is more intriguing. Raised by her mother, a worker with late hours, Jennifer is alone most of the time. Ms. Jones has little time for involvement in Jennifer's life. She comes home from work, goes to her bedroom, and collapses in front of the television with a cigarette. This leaves Jennifer yearning for the life Mahogany wishes to escape - an over protective, doting mother who would notice her.
While the story begins slowly, Through the Storm, picks up speed when Jennifer and Mahogany seem to reverse roles. Jennifer finds a successful career and travels frequently to relieve stress. She returns home to LA after experiencing a horrible tragedy, settles in and finds contentment in attending church with Mahogany's mother. Mahogany, on the other hand, graduates from Stanford University, and assumes a personality that is greedy, uncompassionate, self-destructive and withdrawn. She refuses to entertain anyone else's ideas of how she should live her life. As might be guessed, Mahogany experiences a comeuppance that whips her back into reality.
I enjoyed being the fly on the wall, watching the good times Jennifer and
Mahogany shared as they became young women. I sprang leaks in my big browns when tragedy shattered their worlds. I was disappointed though, that Mahogany took so long to get her act together.
Through the Storm, is a pleasurable read which ends in a predictable manner. There are no mind boggling, misunderstood motives or harbored secrets, just the reality that, as we each grow older, we must come to grips with the fact that sometimes, Mama really did know best.