Monday, September 2, 2013

Review of Sister Souljah's A Deeper Love Inside: The Porsche Santiaga Story

Sister Souljah.  (2013). A Deeper Love Inside:  The Porsche Santiaga Story. New York:  Emily Bestler Books.

A Deeper Love Inside: The Porsche Santiaga Story is the long-awaited sequel to Sister Souljah's bestseller, The Coldest Winter Ever. The author's first novel chronicled the fast-paced, danger-filled rise of the Santiaga family as the head of the house, Ricky, became a legendary drug kingpin in the projects of Brooklyn, New York.  The Santiaga's eldest daughter, Winter, was the apple of her father's eye and determined to follow in his footsteps, even when the family was broken and disgraced after Ricky's arrest.  A Deeper Love Inside tells the second part of the Santiaga tale through the eyes of Porsche, the middle sister, who at the young age of 10 finds herself navigating the harrowing world of a state juvenile detention center where she is serving a sentence for assaulting the caseworker who removed her and her younger sisters from their home.

After an unbelievably daring (and stomach-turning) break-out from the detention center, Porsche finds herself on the run with her older mentor and friend from inside, a mysterious white girl named Riot who took her under her wing.  They end up on a Native American reservation, where Porsche is healed of the eating disorder that she developed on lockdown and learns about natural healing through the use of organic foods and herbs. Embraced by the Native American community and at peace with their beautiful surroundings, the girls could safely stay there forever without fear of being caught by the authorities, since American law enforcement does not have jurisdiction on the reservation.  However, each girl has unfinished business from the past to face, and so they make a pact to split up and then meet back up in New York City several months later.  Porsche hits the streets of New York in a determined quest to put her family back together and reclaim the money, property, and Long Island mansion that was taken when the police arrested her father.  She finds her mother, the once beautiful diva who was the envy of all of the other women in Bed-Stuy, but who is now a broken-down crack addict.  The two of them live underground-literally, and Porsche uses her street smarts and hustling ability to scrape up several under-the-table jobs to care for the both of them, since she isn't legally old enough to work and has to dodge the authorities who would want her in school, locked back up, or both.  Using the healing talents that she developed on the reservation, she takes her mother through a homemade detox program in an attempt to cure her drug addiction. She also meets and falls in love with Elisha, a prep-school teen with aspirations of being a filmmaker.  However, their budding romance is threatened by Porsche's secrets.  Afraid to reveal her real identity, Porsche tells him that her name is Ivory.  She is too afraid for him to find out who she really is, and to see the poor conditions that she lives in with her drug-addicted mother.  She must also continue to deal with the issues that haunt her.  She wants to find her family and must come to grips with the realization that both her mother and Winter knew where she was when she was locked up but only made one visit to see her and never sent any money to her. While in lockdown, she developed a split personality, a girl named Siri, and as her world becomes more confusing and challenging, the line between where Porsche begins and Siri ends becomes ever more blurred.

Sister Souljah is a community activist, intellectual, and sought after speaker.  A graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in both American History and African Studies, she is the author of four bestselling books-three novels and one autobiography.

Just as with The Coldest Winter Ever, I found myself unable to put this novel down.  Porsche's story was just as compelling as her older sister Winter's, and even more profound and touching.  Whereas Winter was very selfish and thought only of self-preservation, the lengths to which Porsche went to save her mother and find their young twin sisters, Lexus and Mercedes, was poignant and heartbreaking.  Sister Souljah does a great job comparing the outcomes of the two sisters and showing how being greedy and self-centered and focusing on making fast, illegal money, leads to a sure downfall in the case of Winter, in contrast to Porsche, who does her best to help her family and friends and makes her money through legitimate, though under-the table hustles, resulting in lasting wealth for her-both materially and emotionally.  Fans of Midnight, the mysterious, enigmatic character who was introduced in The Coldest Winter Ever and went on to be the subject of the author's next two novels, will be excited to see his return in this novel and the part that he plays in helping Porsche and her family.  Once again, Sister Souljah has done a notable job creating real characters that are very identifiable with the young urban readers who make up the majority of her fan base.  She also presents valuable life lessons about navigating the tough choices presented by the streets without being preachy.  A Deeper Love Inside challenges readers to follow Porsche's example and find love for themselves and then to magnify that into love for their family, friends, and neighbors.

No comments:

Post a Comment