For a long time I’ve been ashamed to admit that I never read a book by Toni Morrison, especially when she died last year. There are other prolific black women authors who I can say the same thing about. I felt like somehow I had failed my race and culture. I even felt like maybe I wasn’t a reader because of it. But I am a reader. I love a good book. I’m just not interested in those books.
I grew up in the 90s and the days of Terry McMillan, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Omar Tyree. That’s what my mom had laying around. These books tapped into my “is this what it’s going to be like when I’m grown?” imagination, and I loved it!
But there is a black woman author that I feel often gets overlooked for just how amazing and detailed she is as a novelist, Sister Souljah. Many have fallen in love with her book, The Coldest Winter Ever, at some point in their teenage or young adulthood years including myself. The first paragraph of the book alone grabs you.
“I came busting out of my momma’s big coochie…”
As a high school student, the book was alluring for me. Drugs, New York City, designer clothes, hip hop, guns, money, and sex in the 1980s and 1990s. I totally romanticized Winter’s life as I escaped my own normal life of going to school, home, and watching MTV and BET all day. Although Winter was the main character technically, it was Midnight that kept me interested. As a character, he was mysterious, sexy chocolate, and had self-control. He was the object of Winter’s affection, but he didn’t reciprocate like the other men in the story. I couldn’t put the book down.
The Coldest Winter Ever was my favorite novel for a long time until I read the highly anticipated Midnight: A Gangster Love Sory. This book wasn’t just a regular hood novel. I mean come on its thick as fuck. It is filled with culture and information that expanded my world as a reader even though it takes place mostly in New York City. When I read this book I was fresh out of college hungry to travel the world. Sister Souljah granted me that opportunity through all three Midnight novels. All three novels are prequels to The Coldest Winter Ever, giving us even more insight into who and why he is the man we see in that book.
In Midnight A Gangsta Love Story, Souljah does more than introduce us to a young Midnight. She wrote a book that was relatable, but also educational about multiple cultures while still being engaging and interesting. Readers get insight into Sudan and being Sudanese, what it means to be Muslim and the different types of Muslims from different countries and their traditions, morals, disciplines, and value system as immigrants in New York City. You also learn about Japanese culture, art, and Ninjutsu. Of course, you have hip hop and black culture in the story seeing as it takes place in Brooklyn, NY in the 1980s.
There’s different variations of love as it relates to Midnight and his friends, family, the women in his life, and the people who he creates relationships with. His love brings about discipline, strategy, loyalty, protection, and trust. Ultimately, Midnight falls in love with a Japanese girl, Akemi, in New York for an art program. Neither of them speaks the same language, but their young (and I do mean young- 16 years old) love is strong enough to figure it out and connect deeply. Their love is so innocent and pure, and written in a way that makes you believe in love as you’ve never believed before. They end up getting married then the real adventure begins in the book that follows.
In Midnight and the Meaning of Love, Souljah ups the ante as we travel to Japan and Korea for love. Akemi is kidnapped by her father and taken back to Japan after she marries Midnight. Midnight put things in place for his mother and sister, and then goes to get Akemi.
Midnight’s character, integrity, loyalty, strategicness, and love shines through even more than the first book with an increase of adventure.
In this sequel to the first novel, the details and descriptions make you feel like not only are you there with Midnight on his journey to rescue Akemi, but like you’ve been to these countries before. The colors, the lights, the smells, the weather, and everything around him on this journey feel real. Souljah does a beyond phenomenal job of setting each scene for readers and again learning about the culture.
Many of the characters from the first book come back, and she introduces new characters. The main new character is Chiasa, a teenage Korean and Black girl who helps him find Akemi. She’s black girl magic personified, not just because she’s brilliant, but also compassionate. She plays a huge role in MIdnight getting Akemi back, and adds to Midnight’s character. You also see the way their love unfolds and is completely different from what he has with Akemi. Lastly, the display of honor, respect, integrity, and responsibility he has with these two young women along with his mother and sister back home while handling his business is noble.
Midnight A Moment of Silence takes readers back to New York City with Akemi, Chiasa, and MIdnight plus his mom and sister. It also introduces how Winter’s dad, Ricky Santiago, and MIdnight met and became involved with each other. Themes about black men interacting with police is a large portion of the story including police brutality, what happens while in police custody and on Rikers Island, and having a public defender. It also delves more into social issues in the hood and elitism in the black community and family.
While Midnight is in jail it flashes back to experiences he’s had since returning with Akemi and Chiasa including building and creating a home, juggling having two wives with different needs- Akemi is pregnant with their first child, and protecting his entire family.
Souljah also explores relationships between black men. Midnight and his two friends join a basketball league which complicates things for him and his low key demeanor. Also, there is a twist in this book that makes the story really come together.
I’m not sure if Sister Souljah plans on making another book about Midnight, but I wouldn’t be mad if she did. There’s still a lot readers want to know and discover about the character and the people around him. She does have the sequel to The Coldest Winter Ever coming out March 2, 2021 called Life After Death about Winter. Its available for pre-order.
I highly recommend the Midnight trilogy while you wait.