Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Shayla's Double Brown Baby Blues Hardcover – September 1, 2001
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
Thirteen-year-old Shayla has never thought much of her estranged father, the silver-tongued Mr. Anderson Fox. And she thinks even less of the new baby girl he has fathered named Gift ("I don't think that she's a present.") Jealous and angry that "once again Mr. Anderson Fox has tracked sadness into our house on the sole of his shiny leather shoe," Shayla tries to take her mind off her baby blues by spending more time with her best friend Kambia Elaine and flirting with Lemm, the cute new boy in the 'hood. But she soon discovers that each of them are nursing their own troubles. Kambia is receiving awful anonymous reminders of her former abusive home that cause her mind to "run away from her like folks do from Casper the Friendly Ghost," and Lemm is struggling with a terrible family secret that he tries to cover up with alcohol and fast talk. As she strives to help them both, Shayla painfully learns that friendship has its limits and that the maturity she longs for comes with a price. Lori Aurelia Williams has more tightly focused this sophomore follow-up to her critically acclaimed, yet somewhat rambling first novel, When Kambia Elaine Flew In from Neptune. With Shayla's Double Brown Baby Blues, Williams sticks closer to the plot, while continuing to write Shayla's first-person voice in the signature lyrical style that made Kambia Elaine so unforgettable. To borrow a quote from the vivid wordsmith Williams herself, this poignant sequel is like "thinking you had eaten the last cherry Jolly Rancher out of the bag and then opening it and finding two more." (Ages 12 to 18) --Jennifer Hubert
From Publishers Weekly
Williams picks up where she left off in her stunning debut novel (When Kambia Elaine Flew in From Neptune), chronicling the complicated summer of 13-year-old Shayla. The smart, sensitive narrator is still trying to help Kambia recover from years of abuse but, as the story opens, Shayla's mostly absent father and his wife give birth to a new baby girl--on Shayla's birthday. When she befriends Lemm, a new classmate with an alcohol problem, the heroine must grapple with even more complicated feelings and again decide, as she did with Kambia, what it means to be a true friend. There are more subplots than in the previous novel (e.g., Kambia begins receiving mysterious packages containing painful fragments from her past; Lemm's family history grows complicated) and more characters to keep track of here (a cameo appearance by Shayla's ex-girlfriends and their new beaux), and so much tragedy that the story almost becomes surreal. Some readers may have difficulty keeping up (especially those who did not read the first book), but Shayla's strong sense of self and the poetic language she uses to pinpoint her feelings will keep readers enraptured. The chapters sometimes begin with the pieces written by Shayla, an aspiring writer; through them, and through the similes she pens in her journal ("Regret is flowing through me like dirty bathwater"), readers see her working through her problems. While the courtroom drama involving Lemm at the conclusion feels a little trite, Williams does not present easy answers. Readers will feel the undercurrent of authenticity in her characters and situations throughout the novel. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
A girl who does have a stormy life is Shayla's best friend Kambia. (Their friendship was detailed in author Williams's first book, WHEN KAMBIA ELAINE FLEW IN FROM NEPTUNE by Lori Williams.) As this second novel opens, Kambia's life has only gotten more complicated. A year prior, Kambia was found wandering, alone and amnesiac. Adopted by the Dreyfuses, Kambia is caught in a search for her identity as well as having to find a place for herself in the world. Shayla must help Kambia heal, even as anonymous notes and packages start to plague her friend and bring her to the edge of sanity.
In another subplot, Shayla befriends Lemm, the new boy at school who's lost most of his family in a tragic accident. Lemm struggles, feeling as alone and hopeless as Kambia and Shayla. Lemm also has severe problems with substance abuse, and even as Shayla tries to gain some control in her life, she finds she wants to help Lemm with his issues. Most of the time Shayla feels as if she's caught up in a world full of problems whirling about her, just waiting to reach out and snatch her.
SHAYLA'S DOUBLE BROWN BABY BLUES presents a harsh picture of contemporary life in the African American community. The families are strained nearly to the breaking point but held together by a web of women. These woman show their strengths and vulnerabilities while keeping life going, despite upheavals, dangerous events, and secrets from the past. Women like Grandma Augustine carry with them the promise of a brighter future, even when that promise seems to be withheld by violence and uncertainty; they never allow hope to become totally eaten away. By sharing her enduring strength with her granddaughter, Augustine demonstrates that it is possible to bear the shocks of life and, in time, overcome them.
This isn't the kind of book you can say you enjoyed; "enjoy" simply isn't the right word. But it does tell a powerful story in tight well-crafted prose that lingers in the mind and in the soul long after the story has ended. Lori Aurelia Williams's characters are so solid, they seem as if they've been hewn out of rock instead of the airy stuff of imagination. It's the kind of book that makes you want to hold your own family just a little nearer, just a little dearer. See for yourself.
--- Reviewed by Cassia Van Arsdale
Language and tone are vivid and bright and a delight for all readers young and old. This is a must read and a must have!