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Midnight and the Meaning of Love (The Midnight Series) Hardcover – April 12, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 467 customer reviews
Book 3 of 5 in the Midnight Series

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About the Author

Sister Souljah is best known for her work as a political activist and educator of underclass urban youth. A graduate of Rutgers University, she is a beloved personality in her own community. She lives in New York with her husband and son.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1
Word to Mother

Warmhearted and young, armed and dangerous, I was moving my guns and weapons out of my Brooklyn apartment to one of my most reliable stash spots. As heavy as they were, my thoughts were heavier and even more deadly. I was trying to move murder off my mind.

Kidnapping is a bullshit English word. It doesn’t convey the insult that the offense carries, when a man invades another man’s home, fucks with his family or his wife, la kadar Allah (God forbid), and steals her away.

The man whose wife is gone stands there try’na push the puzzle pieces together of where his wife is exactly and what happened exactly. His blood begins to boil, thicken, curdle, and even starts to choke him. That’s why for me, kidnapping and murder go hand in hand.

In my case, my young wife Akemi’s kidnapper is her own father, her closest blood relation, a man who she loves and honors. For me to kill him would be to lose her even if I win her back. And I refuse to lose.

Ekhtetaf is our word for kidnapping. My Umma pushed it out from her pretty lips. She pulled it from her soul and gave it the true feeling that it carried for us—the hurt, shame, violation, and insult. For half a day it was all that she said after I relayed to her that Akemi was gone. My new wife had been taken against her will back to Japan without a chance to express herself to us, her new family, face to face.

For me to see my mother Umma’s Sudanese eyes filled with tears tripled my trauma. I had dedicated my young life to keeping the water out of my mother’s eyes and returning a measure of joy to her heart that life had somehow stolen. But Sunday night, when our home phone finally rang, and Umma answered only to hear the silence of Akemi’s voice and the gasp in Akemi’s breathing and the restraint in Akemi’s crying, Umma’s tears did fall.

There was a furious rainstorm that same Sunday. Everything was soaked, the afternoon sky had blackened and then bled at sunset. So did Umma’s eyes switch from sunlight to sadness to rain and eventually redness.

Through the evening thunder I sat still trying to simmer. They say there is a beast within every man, and I was taming my beast with music. My earplugs were siphoning the sounds of Art of Noise, a soothing song called “Moments of Love.”

My sister Naja held her head low. She was responding to our mother Umma’s feelings. Like the eight-year-old that she is, she did not grasp the seriousness of Akemi’s disappearance and believed more than Umma and I that Akemi would be coming through the door at any moment.

* * *

Much later that same Sunday night, family day for us, my Umma placed a purple candle in a maroon dish and onto her bedroom floor. She struck a black-tipped match and it blazed up blue. The subtle scent of lavender released into her air. There in the darkness, I sat on her floor, leaning against the wall, and listened to her melodic African voice in the expressive Arabic language, as she told me for the first time ever the story, or should I say saga, of my father’s fight to take her as his first bride, true love, and true heart. I knew then that the darkness in her room was intentional. She wanted to shield the sea of her emotions since there was no love more intense than the mutual love between her and my father. She also wanted to subdue my fury.
She wanted me to concentrate instead on the red and then orange and then blue flame and listen intently for the meaning of her words and the moral of her story so that I would know why I must not fail to bring Akemi back home and why I had to seize victory, the same as my father did.

Monday, May 5th, 1986

At daybreak, when the moon became the sun, Umma’s story was completed. She lay gently on the floor still dressed in her fuschia thobe. Her hair spread across her arm as she slipped into sleep. Our lives and even our day were both upside down now. I lifted her and placed her onto her bed. I put out the flame that danced on the plate in the middle of mostly melted wax.

Umma was supposed to be preparing for work, but her most important job, which took all night, was finally finished. She wanted to transfer my father’s strength and intelligence and brave heart to me, her son. She wanted me to know that I must not be halted by my deep love for her, my mother. She had told me, “You have guarded my life and built our family business. I love you more than you could ever imagine. In my prayers, I thank Allah every day for creating your soul and giving you life. I thank Allah for choosing to send you through my body. But now, ‘You must follow the trail of your seed.’ ”

Chapter 2
So in Love

Naja overslept. When I went into her room to wake her for school I found her sleeping in her same clothes from yesterday and clutching a doll. The scene was strange. At night she usually wore her pajamas and her robe and woke up wearing them as well. She didn’t play with dolls, wasn’t the type, was more into puzzles and pets. As I approached her bed, I saw the doll had the same hair as my wife, long, black, and thick. That hair is real, I thought to myself, and reached for the doll. I maneuvered it out of Naja’s hands and flipped it around. It was a tan-skinned doll with Japanese eyes drawn on with a heavy permanent black Sharpie marker. The material was sewn and held together with a rough and amateurish stitch.

Naja woke up and said with a sleepy slur and stutter, “I finally made something by myself.” She turned sideways in her bed, propping her head up with her hand, and said now with confidence, “It’s Akemi. Can’t you tell?”

I smiled the way a man with troubles on his mind might smile to protect a child’s innocent view of the world. I could’ve easily got tight with my little sister because she had gone into my room and removed the ponytail of hair that Akemi had chopped off of her own head one day in frustration with her Japanese family.

“It looks like her. You did a good job,” I told Naja.

“Do you really think it looks like your wife or are you just saying that to be nice?” Naja asked.

“I’m saying it to be nice. Now get up, you’re running late for school today.”

* * *

Akemi’s expensive collection of high heels was lined up against the wall in our bedroom. Her hand-painted Nikes and other kicks with colorful laces were spread out too. Her luggage and clothing, every dress and each skirt a memory of something sweet, were all there. Her black eyeliner pencil that outlined her already dark and beautiful eyes was left out on the desktop. The perfume elixir that Umma made for Akemi, but truly for my pleasure, was there also. The crystal bottle top was tilted to the right from the last use. Her yoga mat was rolled up and lying in the corner. She had left her diary out for all to see. She knew we could not read one word of the Japanese kanji that began on the last page and ended on the first. Yet she had colorful drawings in there as well. Just then I recalled her fingers gliding down the page with a colored pencil in one hand and a chunk of charcoal in the other.

Everywhere in our bedroom there were signs that this was a woman, a wife who lived here beside me, her husband, and definitely intended to stay. We are teenagers, Akemi and I, but we are both sure of our bond. Furthermore, we took that bold and irreversible step into marriage and our two hearts became one.

She had left her designer life and luxurious apartment behind and moved into the Brooklyn projects to be beside and beneath me. So in love, even in the chaos of this hood, and the glare of the ambulances and scream of sirens, she could only see me. Each day her love became more sweeter, her smile even brighter.

After hearing Umma’s story, I understood now that in the Sudan, my home country, the kidnapping of females is unusual but has happened, especially when two men were battling over the same woman. A Sudanese man will fight hard and by any means necessary to earn the right and advantage over the next man to marry the bride of his choice and make her his own.

Yet our men never battle over a woman after the marriage has already taken place, been witnessed, acknowledged, and agreed on. We never battle to win a woman after her husband has gone into her. And I had gone into my wife Akemi over and over and in so many ways that the thought alone made my heart begin to race and my entire body began to sweat like summer, but in the spring season.

I looked at my bedsheets that I had never thought about before. Umma had selected those sheets knowing that a man wouldn’t mind but a woman would. She dressed up my bed one day while I was out. Umma wanted Akemi to feel good and welcomed. I had to admit that those Egyptian cotton sheets were soft and comfortable. Only Akemi’s skin was softer.

Eateda is the word from back home that describes for us a bigger offense.

My mind switched to that thought. Eateda happens when a kidnapper steals a woman against her will, then rapes her. I promised myself that in my blood relation beef with my wife’s father, this was not that type of problem. Yet I also knew that when a man is not beside his woman, protecting, loving, providing, and influencing her all the time, eateda is always possible by any man who is allowed to be in the same room with her, if that man is living low.

* * *

My sensei taught me the technique of breathing a certain way to lower the blood pressure and calm the mind and settle the heart. It was not a technique meant to prevent a murder. A man has to think but not too much. Thinking to an extreme can paralyze a man’s actions and turn him into a passive coward. What Sensei taught me was a technique meant mainly to calm a warrior to prepare him to make the sharpest, wisest, most effective strike against his target. So I was using it as I stepped swiftly down the subway stairs and out of the spring air. Now it was Monday. My feet were moving rhythmically with my breathing. My game face was neutral, but my soul was scowling. Each time that I cleared my murderous thoughts, they would reappear.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Midnight Series (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; 3rd Printing edition (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439165351
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439165355
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (467 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
******Spoilers, Spoilers, Spoilers, Spoilers******

My review will contain spoilers so please skip down to the BOTTOM LINE to avoid them.

I tried to like this book. I really did. I enjoyed "Midnight: A Gangsters Love Story" enough to pre-order this book and read it within a week of receiving it. Let's just say what set up for an intriguing premise was destroyed at least 150 pages before the book was even finished.

Midnight And The Meaning of Love picks up right where A Gangsters Love Story left off. Akemi, the 16 year old wife of Midnight has been kidnapped by her Japanese father, and of course the young Sudanese Ninja vows to do whatever it takes to get her back. The book has three sections, with about 16-20 chapters each. The first section takes place in Brooklyn, the second in Japan, and the third in Korea.

The Brooklyn section is more or less filled with preparation for Midnight to go to Japan and take back his bride. While he organizes his plan though, he also takes time to play basketball with his friends, meet Santiago (Winters father from Coldest Winter Ever), train with his sensi, lust after Bangs, and move his family (his 7 year old sister and his non-english speaking mother) from their apartment in Brooklyn. It's a slow but necessary read and for the most part really helps to paint the mindset of Midnight before making his journey across the globe.

The second section kicks off once Midnight boards a plane to Japan where he meets several teenage girls; one of them a half black-half Korean ninja named Chiasa that Midnight hires to be his tour guide and translator. She impresses him with her knowledge of fighting and her quick intelligence and this lays the foundation for the love triangle that takes place later in the story.
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I have been waiting for this book to come out ever since I finished reading Midnight: A Gangster Love Story. This is not a FULL review only because I haven't read the whole thing. I've been anticipating this book because A Gangster Love story ended with Akemi being "kidnapped" by her Father and took back to Japan. Before I get into my dislikes of the book so far, let me just say that Sister Souljah really disappointed me with all the women characters being fair skinned (light skinned, mulatto etc...) with long flowing hair. I was proud of Midnight being a strong BLACK young man, but why couldn't his mother be a beautiful dark-skinned Sudanese woman? Are there not any dark-skinned Sudanese women that she could have gotten inspiration from? The photographs in Midnight and the meaning of love are beautiful, I was just hoping to see something out of the ordinary.

With that being said I feel that the book is really dragging in the beginning. Overall Midnight does a lot of talking and thinking. I appreciate that but there was not much action so far. To be honest I did flip through the end of the book and saw that he took Chiasa as his second wife and apparently he got both of the pregnant. In the last chapter of the book Midnight says, "I gifted her two daughter-in-law and three babies in their womb."

In the book Coldest Winter Ever Midnight was grown (around 25 I think) and he wrote to Sistah Souljah that his mom died and his sister Naja almost got molested. He went to jail for shooting the man that almost did that. And at the end of that book he was married to one woman and adopted Winter's sisters.

I really want to know what happened to Akemi, Chiasa and his children between that time. Did he divorce them before working for Santiaga? Did they die?
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24 Comments 62 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I am so disappointed with this book, to be honest I was disappointed with the last book in this series, but I thought she would really bring it this time around so i gave her another chance but she disappointed me again and I'm done, I'm so done you can stick a fork in me. Sister Souljah Ms. girl, just leave it alone just let the Midnight Saga end, it's like you keep trying to pull something from nowhere, and turn it into over 600 pages and call it a book. I've read every book in this saga and I remember every detail starting with the Coldest Winter Ever and it just doesn't add up. And why write a pointless chapter about Ricky Santiaga and it's not relevant to anything, I got excited when I saw that chapter and you let me down. I am highly disappointed. Leave the Midnight saga alone, just stop. and you even mentioned the guy Lance that he killed in the Coldest Winter Ever and that's it, I see you trying to satsify your reader's curious imagination and interest about the events that lead up to what happened in the Coldest Winter Ever, but your doing it half way. And he goes to Japan and comes back with a second wife and none of this was mentioned in The Coldest Winter Ever. Maybe you should pick up the book and read it before you write another disappointing part of this Midnight gangster meaning of love or whatever. And you know what to be honest with you this is not my Midnight from the Coldest Winter Ever, I wanted to marry the Midnight from the Coldest Winter Ever and bare his children, but this Midnight in these two books, this dude right here, I have nothing but contempt and down right disgust for because he thinks he's so much better than every aspect of America.Read more ›
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