BrookLyn’s Journey by Coffey Brown

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brooklynsjourneyncodPublisher/Date: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, June 2012
Genre(s): Young Adult, Coming of Age, Identity
Pages: 258
Website: http://www.coffeybrownbooks.com

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

There were times reading BROOKLYN’S JOURNEY by Coffey Brown I didn’t quite know what to feel.

On one hand, it’s an affecting story about 18-year-old BrookLynn Scott living an abusive home. On the other hand, the unlikely love story surrounding her and Gabriella Michaels is almost like an fanciful fairy tale, because Gabby saves her in a way BrookLyn never thought possible – with unconditional love.

Growing up with a belt-swinging father and a snitch of a mother caring only to save herself, Brooklyn is trapped in her own house. She is the baby of the family, her brother and sisters long escaped, and her goal is to excel in high school so she can attend college far away from her parents. Since she wasn’t allowed out except to go to school or church, no parties and definitely no boys, her plan seemed attainable.

It also seems like fate when she runs into Gabby, and her church mate uses this chance to finally be with dream girl BrookLyn. As Gabby confesses her affection for the quiet girl in the choir and asks for her trust, BrookLyn imagines a life free of pain. With an inheritance and her own home at 19, Gabby woos BrookLyn with promises of love, protection and most of all, normal teenage experiences. In every step of their relationship, it appears impossible that BrookLyn has found someone who will love her, scars and all, but she holds on tight to this impossibility – because if not, what else does she have left?

I applaud Brown for the message she sends with BrookLyn’s Journey, because the questioning BrookLyn has about her sexuality is authentic to what some teenagers face when they’ve been sheltered and discover their first attraction to the same sex. Her portrayal of the horrid emotions of child emotional and physical abuse, as unfortunate as it sounds, was too real. I wanted BrookLyn to leave this house or to have someone, her older siblings especially, to take her away from her awful excuse for parents. No one would save the studious girl who missed days at school so her bruises wouldn’t be noticed.

Yet when that someone comes in the form of Gabby, I was skeptical at first. With everything BrookLyn’s been through, I didn’t want to see her hurt again, and I couldn’t wrap my mind around how quickly they fell for each other, more so Gabby. She is totally in love with BrookLyn, and I think being in her situation, BrookLyn was grabbing on to any life preserve she could find.

But the one thing I love about BrookLyn is that she’s resilient; she may not know what love is, but she surely knows what love isn’t. And that’s what she sees in Gabby – someone who won’t hurt her again. That kind of love is powerful, and I wish every child, neglected or not, has someone – whether a parent, teacher, aunt or uncle, best friend or significant other – she can receive that kind of love from.

There are other things about BrookLyn’s Journey – the sometimes awkward dialogue, the plausibility of the love affair – that I question, but Brown does a decent job giving BrookLyn a voice that teenagers will undoubtedly relate to and cheer for.

Reviewed October 2013

About Coffey Brown

Stacey Pierce aka Coffey Brown was born and raised in Orange County, New York. She graduated from the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Fairleigh Dickinson University and New York University. She has been a social worker for almost twenty years. Stacey will be publishing fiction and non-fiction books in various genres hence the pen name. However, she will be using the pen name for LGBT fiction. She recently relocated to the Charlotte area with her partner of fourteen years. BrookLyn’s Journey is her first novel, followed by The Awakening of Graye Moon.


What Goes Around Comes Back Around by C. D. Kirven (Feb. 2009 Pick of the Month)

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Publisher/Date:  Outskirts Press, Nov. 2008
Genre(s):  Coming of Age, Coming Out, Identity, Self-Love
Pages:  224
Website:  http://www.cdkirven.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Karmic retribution allows the universe to make things happen the way the world intended. Yet we still have some control over our destiny, to shape the future based on our experiences and goals. C. D. Kirven’s debut novel, WHAT GOES AROUND COMES BACK AROUND, builds on this premise as we follow the coming of age of Kingsley Ross.

As the novel begins, Kingsley can be best described as passive, a 14-year-old girl who believes her grandmother’s words of what goes around comes around. She and her best friend, Tanya, spend their days doing typical teenage mischief, which returns to bite her in the ass. When it comes to getting what she wants, Kingsley doesn’t aggressively pursue her desires, and by adulthood, she’s living with glimmers of regrets.

One decision she laments is not allowing herself to fall in love. Uncomfortable with her blossoming lesbian tendencies, Kingsley fails to pursue a relationship with a woman she meets through a set-up, the drop-dead gorgeous Emery, who has the swagger to make Kingsley swoon despite her trepidation of being with a woman. They spend a glorious night together, leaving Kingsley more confused than ever. When Kingsley sees her months later – with another woman – it devastates her that she never told Emery how she felt. She let her fears prevent her from the love she could have had.

Seeing Emery moving on with her life, Kinsley vows to take charge of her own, experiencing everything the world has to offer. It helps her to see things clearly, to see that she was living by other’s standards – her family, society – instead of her own.

“I realized that all this time I had been thinking that I was no one on my own but everything with someone else. This was a lie that became my way of life. I am everything now…”

Nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, What Goes Around Comes Back Around captures a woman’s passage to herself. Through Kirven’s writing, it’s refreshing to see Kingsley grow from her antics as a teenager to a woman of her own. The transformation, described in colorful detail, is engrossing on many levels: Kingsley becoming an adult, accepting her sexuality, and discovering herself. Kirven allows you to take the ride with her character, and while a little bumpy, it leads to a place of self-fulfillment and love.

Reviewed February 2009


Dancer’s Paradise by Terry B.

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dancersparadisePublisher/Date:  NHouse Publishing LLC, May 2004
Genre(s):  Romance, Identity
Pages:  320

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

What’s interesting about DANCER’S PARADISE is that author Terry B. fashioned the story from the lives of several real-life women.

A dancer at the Dominique St. Claire Dance Studio, Debrena Allison Allen joined the Sisters of Soul (SOS) troupe with long-time ally Lorrie Cunningham. Debrena and Lorie have been best friends since both were 10 years old, meeting at an audition held at a local recreation center. Through the years they’ve shared the love of dance and a hidden attraction. Despite Lorrie’s protests that nothing will change between them, Debrena doesn’t want to tinker with their friendship.

Debrena is a confessed bisexual (although she doesn’t care for labels) with an occasional hankering for punanny, but says she prefers men. Lorrie, who’s always been sure of her love for women, thinks Debrena is fooling herself. She tries to convince Debrena to be herself and trust the people that love her to know the truth. But it’s hard for naive Debrena to confess what’s truly in her heart, even to herself.

To prove it she becomes involved a relationship with photographer Choice Fowler. He introduces himself and they soon find themselves in a passionate relationship. She enjoys the sex, but it’s not really where her heart is. Her love is really for Lorrie though her stubbornness blinds her to it.

As an author, Terry B. wrote a captivating novel with Dancer’s Paradise. He taps into the mind of woman with such a genuine voice, and Debrena is a character that shows great emotional growth by the novel’s end.

Reviewed August 2005