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Orange Mint and Honey: A Novel Paperback – February 12, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Brice's accomplished debut, African-American Shay Dixon, a burnt-out grad student, has a visitation/fantasy/fever dream featuring Nina Simone, the high priestess of soul, who counsels Shay to go home. To do that, she must face Nona, the drunken failure of a mother she's not spoken to in seven years and blames for a harrowing childhood that left her emotionally scarred. Still, she takes Nina's advice, heads home to Denver and discovers that Nona's now an A.A. member with a good job, a lovely home and an adorable three-year-old girl, Sunny, Shay's half-sister. Their reconciliation is complicated by Shay's stubborn anger, Nona's A.A. sponsorship of a troubled young woman and Shay's sexual awakening. Brice's straightforward prose is dead-on in describing the challenges Shay and her mother face as they reconnect. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Carleen Brice is a freelance writer who lives in Denver with her husband. Her mother died of breast cancer in 1992.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: One World/Ballantine (February 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345499069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345499066
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 0.7 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #548,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carleen Brice's debut novel, ORANGE MINT AND HONEY, is the basis for the NAACP Image Award-winning Lifetime TV movie "Sins of the Mother" starring Jill Scott and Nicole Beharie. ORANGE MINT AND HONEY was also an Essence "Recommended Read" and a Target "Bookmarked Breakout Book." For this book, she won the 2009 First Novelist Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and the 2008 Break Out Author Award at the African American Literary Awards Show.

Booklist Online called her second novel, CHILDREN OF THE WATERS (One World/Ballantine), a book about race, love and family, "a compelling read, difficult to put down." Essence said, "Brice has a new hit."

Please visit her website, www.carleenbrice.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Carleen Brice, an author of such nonfiction titles as Age Ain't Nothing But a Number makes her fiction debut with Orange Mint and Honey. Shay Dixon is a nervous breakdown in the making. She is a twenty-five year old grad student who has hit rock bottom; laid off from her job, about to be evicted and carrying baggage that would break the back of the strongest of women. Not to mention she is channeling the voice of the late singer, Nina Simone who seems to be her guiding force and at this moment, she is telling Shay to go home. Home is the last place Shay wants to be. She has spent the last few years distancing herself from Denver, Colorado and her past.

Raised by an alcoholic, Shay finds it hard to forgive her mother's past neglect but that is exactly what her mother is asking--forgiveness. Shay returns to find her mother has made a transformation. Nona is now an employed homeowner replete with Martha Stewart living, a healthy lifestyle and a flower and herb garden. She is also the mother of another daughter, five-year old Sunshine. Shay watches as her mother is the epitome of motherhood as she dotes on Sunshine, something that was lacking when Shay was a child.

Shay has even more issues, baggage upon baggage that need fixing; she has a nervous habit of pulling out her hair, she is socially inept and her background is such that she guards against getting close to people. Shay gets a job in a record shop, reconnects with the only friend she has ever had and begins to navigate through her issues to reclaim her sanity and find balance. She is forced to step outside of herself as she begins dating, forges new ties, and begins the journey of repairing the most fragile of all relationships, that of mother and daughter.
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Format: Paperback
I'm not much of a reader but it only took me 5 hours to read this book! I'm only a few years older than the main character and I could relate to some of the issues a young woman goes through with her mother.I learned from Shay that people who "seem" together really aren't. I don't have my degree yet and the whole time I'm yelling (at the book) "you have a degree!! what are you whining about?" My generation is the first generation in the black community that's starting to talk about personal issues and family problems.It's hard to face things as black women. We were taught to hold it in and deal with everything on our own.I liked the way this character grew and decided to let it out. This was refreshing, real, and uplifting. I cried, laughed, and really want to make this tea!!
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Format: Paperback
Orange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice is the story of a mother and daughter, Nona and Shay Dixon, and the path both women take in discovering who they really are. The central theme in the author's first novel is forgiveness. Sometimes in life, we must face our bitter pasts in order to get to our sweet tomorrows.

Nona is a recovering alcoholic, who in yester-years was not very motherly to her first daughter, Shay. She is now striving to be a better mom to her second daughter, Sunny. After an emotionally unstable Shay puts her postgraduate degree on hold and returns home for a semester discovering her "new mom," her pinned up animosity towards her mother radiates through several incidents and conversations. In spite of Shay's resistance to the extension of Nona's olive branch to mend their broken mother-daughter relationship, Nona continues her quest to stay on the right track and repair their relationship.

Readers will find themselves drawn into this story, especially mothers and daughters. Mothers and daughters may not always see things from each other's perspective; however, through communication and mutual respect, anything is possible. Nona relied on her AA meetings and tending to her garden to keep her on the straight and narrow; while Shay found herself after she opened up to newfound beau, Oliver.

Through supporting characters Ivy, a recovering alcoholic, drug abuser and prostitute, and Oliver, Shay's first "real boyfriend," Nona and Shay face situations where they lean on each other for emotional support and finally begin the healing process in their own relationship. Sitting down over a cup of orange mint tea with a splash of honey, the two women discover that sometimes in life we just have to accept the bitter with the sweet and make the best of it.
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ORANGE MINT AND HONEY incorporates layers of emotions into a wonderfully readable and often humorous story. Having raised herself due to her mother's once-rampant alcoholism, Shay Dixon nearly reaches the pinnacle of years of struggle--the completion of her graduate degree--when she finds she cannot go on. A "visit" from the late great jazz singer Nina Simone compels Shay to return home to her seemingly re-made, AA-saved mother...and a new little half-sister.

The twists and turns that Shay's first few months with the family she's unsure she wants drive the plot and the growing understanding of how Shay must reconcile her tragic childhood with the potential promise of her future. Only through difficult lessons does she learn to relax, to relish the sweetness of simple pleasures despite the bitterness that often accompanies them, to love herself despite her perceived weaknesses and handicaps, to appreciate her unique style of gracing the world in which she lives and the lives of those who love her.
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