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Small Pleasures: Mya's Story [Kindle Edition]

Darnishia Bolden
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Flat chested and agile as monkeys, the pretty little Sheppard sisters hunt exotic insects as decorations for their mud pies and childhood games. Yet, by the age of ten, Mya Sheppard’s body has outgrown her innocent mind. Deeply troubled by its unwanted attention, Mya climbs trees hoping to remain within the protected cradle of childhood. But the violence that chased the Sheppard girls to California finds them and forces them and their Mother back to Georgia and into the home of Donovan Sheppard’s religious parents. Struggling against bouts of anxiety brought on by salty California, Mya finds herself in a whirl of trouble one afternoon when she’s left in the care of a grandfather who finds her tempting. Despite the domestic issues plaguing the family, this assault seizes Mya’s ability to defend her body against others, and her own hands. Brutally honest and graphically told, Mya introduces the reader to the life of a family fighting for love and normalcy, and struggling to remain together.

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"I am my father's daughter," is Mya's mantra as she prepares to abort another fetus, one she had contemplated carrying to full term after a botched abortion. Afterall the abortionist's message had been terrifying and clear: "It might have no head, no arms." Mya Sheppard, the most beautiful of Donovan Sheppard's daughters, cultivates careless and restless behavior traits. Killing is simply one of them. She and her beguiling sisters emerge from a home where love is dictated by a Father who lost his dreams to Vietnam. Love to them is a shadowy figure trapped and twisted among sweet and wicked, fairytales and religion, mother and father, God and Satan. Depending on the sister, truth is destorted by the grieving memories of unfinished childhoods. The family secrets (rape and domestic abuse) assign each girl a fate of love, fear, hurt, and destruction.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Darnishia Bolden is the author of the controversial novella, Delilah's Fruit, published as an e-book in the summer of 2000. A short story, essay and poetry writer, in 1992 she received an honorable mention from the National Organization of Women (N.O.W.) for the short story Her Voice. She resides in Decatur, Georgia. Small Pleasures is her first novel.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1
Mud Pies

Three heifers and Mary lived in a beautiful garden.

Collard greens, string beans, okra, squash, watermelons and tomatoes grew up together like quiet siblings. Peach trees birthed small sweet offspring. While the crab-apple squeezed out tiny tart apples that the four girls devoured with a little salt to taste. The gate made it safe, doubling as a freeway for all kinds of unrelated vines. Blackberries and honeysuckles betrothed without a grudge.

A fig tree stood majestically within its own territory. Her leaves, bigger than the hands of men, cast creepy shadows along the pathway of concrete leading to the steps of the back porch. They were also leafy enough to shade against what some folks referred to as the eye of God. Mya, Chestnut and Rachel called it their oven in the sky baking skin golden brown and hardening mud into delicacies the girls were forbidden to test inside tender mouths.

Mandy, on a hand of her own, could have cared less. "Don't take that gum. He had it in his pocket. It's probably soft."

"What's soft?" Mya asked.

Though indirectly, Mandy warned them.

Juicy when chewed and terribly sweet, it came wrapped inside a sunshine wrapper.

"I'm chewing heaven," Mya smiled. Soft aluminum foil folded, thrown into the trash gum. Sweet on the tongue, quieting busy lips. (Shhhhh, the gum told her not to tell, he never threatened). The three little girls chewed the sweetest gum while shaping mud into pies. Mandy was given permission to talk to boys on the telephone.

Stories from a book in red hardback, the Devil danced on the cover, naked with a long arrow tipped tail curving around hoofed feet. People swam in a lake of fire desired to die. A lamb lay in the arms of a lion. Hands old from having held parts of the world in it turned the pages.

A man's hands.

Figs from a tree served as an after breakfast dessert. Mya and her sisters climbed the tree with the agility and gracefulness of monkeys not from the sea. Bellies still filled with eggs and bacon, or fried green tomatoes, grits or oatmeal, they ate despite the fullness. Learned to be greedy, despite their Grandparent's lessons and took advantage of abundance. Chestnut and Rachel consumed eggs sunny side up, sopping up the yellow embryo with toast. Like grown folks, they drank coffee black in various forms. The Reverend taught them how.

Bicycle races started at the top of the hill, above the clothesline and vegetable garden, where they thought the Devil sometimes danced too in real life.

Once upon a time, they spied Donovan dancing there, in front of Mother while she tried reading the Scriptures. "Ahhh Baby, come on now," he grooved, begging her to come back.

Underneath the green grass mud waited to be dug up. With silver spoons and knives picked from an unguarded kitchen drawer, the three obeyed the call. Dug deeply, added water then molded delicacies they were forbidden to eat.

Mudpies and mudpie cookies baked by the Sun. They sprinkled in spider legs for "flavor." Crushed red ants because Rachel needed to know the color of things. The blood wasn't red, the three named it liquid sugar, adding the remains to mud meals. Growing hungry from exotic meals unable to be devoured, they plucked the berries off vines. Rinsed them in cold water from a green thing coiled in the front yard like a snake. Ate them. Or sucked on dirty figs while hunting more insect prey. Played in mud, pulled up Granddaddy's pretty green grass and sprinkled it on top of cakes as dark as the berries that stained their fingertips and virgin pink tongues.

Green grass-coconut mud pies.

Cakes made of mud, the three younger sisters did not eat. Sometimes they fought, used them for bombs. Hurled them at each other. All in fun.

Rinsed off bathing suit clad bodies with the same hose used to cleanse black berries. By late afternoon, the water from the green hose was lukewarm.

By evening the water was hot, inside the house and coated with Ivory soap and childhood mud scum.

Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep If I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take God bless Momma God bless Daddy God bless my Sisters God bless Bigmomma and Granddaddy and Eeeeeverybody in the whole wide world. Amen!

...but does HE?

This old man, this old man told me a story.

The paper was his mind, crinkled with depravity, creased twofold with the knowledge of knowing. His mind expanded like a rubberband, incapable of breaking, bouncing back with new revelations and stories. Black ink smooth as onyx spilled from his lips. Licorice to a child's comprehension. The words stained. Permanently.

The sandman would come without a broom, magic carpet or riding a billowing cloud of fluffy white cotton. Quietly like the sleep he would impose, the sandman would step into my room.

Play with me until I fell into Sleep's peaceful arms.

(Mya waited.)

Eyes heavy, mouth burning from mint toothpaste.

But the sandman did not bring a pleasant Dream or peaceful Sleep. In his bag he smuggled burdens.

Tickling fingers and a wet tongue that danced on a little pink jewel like a sprite tip toeing across dew bathed fig leaves.

Transported nightmares with promises of love and protection. He pulled wishes of his own freely from a heart of old scars heaped upon him by somebody else.

To burden me. Pleasure himself.

(She was small and his pleasure.)

What more can one expect from a God who forces the gazelle to share land with hyenas who laugh wildly when lions tear babies from a mother's belly? From someone with many names, many faces, countless religions. How could I ever learn to trust? With so much multiplicity to learn.


Product Details

  • File Size: 543 KB
  • Print Length: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Darnishia Bolden (January 14, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006XNI7X0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,311,927 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
(6)
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Who Will Cry for the Little Girls? April 22, 2012
Format:Paperback
"Small Pleasures" is a haunting novel that covers the lives of four sisters and their dysfunctional family. Rachel, Mandy, Mya and Chestnut are almost daily witnesses to their father's physical abuse of their mother. Each girl deals with the domestic violence in different ways. However, when they become adults, they come to realize that they have carried the dysfunction into their own lives.

The story is narrated by Mya, the second oldest. We follow her story of first love, abuse and friendship. When Mya enters adulthood, though, she realizes that her past is still with her and that it makes it difficult for her to love or be loved. Mya's battles with weight and self-mutilation take a toll on the men who try to love her. Yet what these men don't understand is that Mya does not love herself.

Darnishia Bolden's novel is filled with interesting characters. While shedding light on domestic violence, the author shows the impact that this can have on adults. No one is really healed or whole. Also, the past paved the way for the present and will pave the way for the future lives of these four girls.

Although this is Mya's story, the author does give many of the main characters the opportunity to tell their stories. This technique, however, is what caused the book to be very confusing. Sometimes the point of view would shift in the middle of a chapter. I often found myself having to re-read sections in order to figure out who the speaker was. The typesetting is a bit small, which made the book hard to read. Also, I feel there are a lot of unnecessary details that the author could have eliminated in order to shorten the book. There are a few editing issues that need to be polished up as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex and Provocative July 17, 2004
By Angela
Format:Paperback
Intense sexual theme, storyline is centered around the main character Mya. She comes from a tradional home with three other sisters. The mother is a stay at home mom who takes care of everyone and their father is busy destroying himself but in the process destroys the intellect, self-esteem and beauty of his four daughters. Small Pleasures is a complex novel because its a slice of life story about love hate sex betrayal . . . all those things that make up life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On the Way to Becoming a Best Seller! July 1, 2011
By Toy
Format:Paperback
This wonderfully written story is about the hidden secrets that reside in this family that are left untold. The disturbing abuse manifests in deadly ways, killing bodies, minds, and spirits. What's left of these pieces are woven together to create the story of how Mya survived.

The mother tries to cover her own abuse, there is the burden of trying to be perfect in a world where perfection exists only as its own. Then, there is the danger of "small pleasures" and what a human being can lend their lives to.

Mya's Story will not disappoint you! It will make you laugh, cry, and wonder why? Or should I say who?
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More About the Author

Darnishia Bolden is the author of the novella, Delilah's Fruit, sold as an e-book in 2000. A short story, essay and poetry writer, in 1992 she received an honorable mention from the National Organization of Women (NOW) for the short story "Her Voice."

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