I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are of my own.
In her debut book, Tami Charles, will make her mark! From the moment I picked this book up I couldn't put it down. The more I read, the more invested I became. I was with Vanessa on this journey. Every up, every down, every cry, every smile, and every struggle. I gasped, I screamed - "yeeeeeees", when I related to something so deeply, and even though I could not hug HER, i've hugged a little girl just like her. Every middle school, and even high school young ladies need this book. After every page I turned, I felt Paul Laurence Dunbar - We Wear The Masks. Often times, we do. Often times, it's hard not to. This poetic, beautiful (and more often not beautiful) struggle will tug at your heart.
Beautiful, stunning cover created by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Set in 1983, Vanessa Williams has just been crowned the FIRST african american woman to be crowned Miss America. This is a time for rejoicing, right? Not for Vanessa Martin. It was a challenge for Vanessa to believe that she could surpass her limitations. With all that she has to endure - living in poverty, no mother around, dad is around but not present, not loving herself enough (or at all), not light skinned with pretty eyes and hair that flowed down her back... how could she dare dream this for herself, right?
Now I lay me down to sleep,
another tear I shall not weep.
Please work your magic through the night,
that I will wake with skin so light.
For this will bring a brighter day,
to light my path and guide the way.
And all the pieces will come together:
love, beauty, family, forever
If I had to choose my favorite parts of the book, there are two that I loved! The first, was of the bond that Vanessa formed with her teacher, Mrs. Walton. Reluctant as she was in the beginning, she could not deny the connection that was made. The saying is true, you cannot judge a book by it's cover. She had no idea that this white teacher understood her in more ways than she would believe.
This relationship is so important, SO IMPORTANT for young women (and young men) to have someone in their life that they can confide in, and whom they can trust. I'm sure if we all reflect on certain times and situations in our life, we can see that person and we would smile.
The second part of the book that I adored was the culture. Yes, the culture!! It took me to my happy place to see all these names mentioned. New edition, Raheem, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Sugar Hill, Different Strokes - THE CULTURE, OUR CULTURE. Since the book was set in 1983, Tami made sure to add in these names so that we could really get a feel of the time. This retroish vibe was icing on the cake, at least for me.
This book has everything - secrets, betrayal, racism, family, friendship, love, and yearning for something you want so badly but admittedly and fearfully reject the idea that YOU can actually achieve it. I commend the author for placing so much of her own story in this book. Because of it, i'm sure a lot more young ladies can relate to it.
Connect with the author
To the girl(s) that will read this book or may be reading my review...
Dear beautifully made you,
Be authentic. Be you. Believe that it is possible. Whatever you're trying to achieve, despite your circumstances. They do not make you. They will strengthen you.