Orange Mint and Honey
Shay Dixon is 25 and ready to finish her thesis for her master's degree. But she's in a depression and has lost her apartment because she couldn't pay the rent. She can't decide on a thesis. She can't even get out of bed. Her adviser suggests she take a semester off. She has nowhere to go, no money, no classes, and no place to live in Iowa City where she's been attending school. She grudgingly returns to Denver, where her mother lives with her 3-year-old half-sister Sunny.
Shay's mother Nona is a recovering alcoholic. She's been clean for 4 years. But Shay can't forget or forgive all those years of neglect. She's been responsible for herself since she was nine years old.She was buying her own groceries and preparing her own meals by then. Her salvation had been school. Now even school is deserting her. She's running back to Nona for a place to live for one semester.
When there Shay holes up with her classic jazz music in Sunny's bedroom, barely comes out, doesn't speak with Nona, and sinks further into her depression. Nona has a positive outlook. She goes to AA meetings twice a week, is close with her sponsor, and is the sponsor for another young girl who is on parole. She works full time and is devoted to Sunny. That's just more that annoys Shay. Where was Nona when she needed her?
When prodded Shay starts doing a little. She reconnects with her best friend from high school. When Nona insists she start pulling her own weight she takes a job in a record store. Shay still has no faith in herself. She can't concentrate on any thesis topic. She is afraid to connect with people. Slowly, Shay starts coming of herself - Sunny is a big factor of that.
Carleen Brice has written a soul searching novel that hits hard to any woman who has questioned or is still questioning her own self worth. Orange Mint and Honey is written in first person narrative. More than once I found myself identifying with her thoughts, especially when she was despairing and putting herself down. When she starts finding empowerment, it's easy to rejoice with her.
Brice has given a realistic picture of a child of an alcoholic. Shay can't forgive Nona. Nona understands yet continues to be nice to Shay. Her meetings give the support she needs to continue day to day. None readily admits her past mistakes. She knows all she can do is go forward, not backward.
This is a good book. It's an easy read, not long, yet gets a good message through in an entertaining novel. This also is an Afro American culture novel. It's doesn't matter to the reader, although her background as a black woman shapes Shay's personality.
Notice: Non-graphic violence, Strong indecent language, Strong sexual content
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