Saturday, June 25, 2016

Review of The Blackbirds by Eric Jerome Dickey

The Blackbirds is the latest novel by the prolific author Eric Jerome Dickey.  I read this book as part of an online book club that I've recently joined, and though I must confess that I voted for a different book for the group's selection, I am so glad to have read the novel. (Shoutout to the members of R.E.A.D.!!!)

The plot traces the lives of four best friends who live in the same apartment building.  Indigo, the owner of the apartment building, is the child of a wealthy Nigerian family and the on-again, off-again girlfriend to a superstar NFL player.  As he cheats on her and stalls on putting a ring on her finger, she wavers between him and her ex-boyfriend, an equally famous NBA player. Kwanzaa is a Starbucks barista and college student, trying unsuccessfully to get over her broken engagement and cheating fiance.  A chance encounter with a handsome, mysterious customer leads to a wild fling with details that outdo even some of the author's most sensual works!  Destiny is the infamous title character from a previous EJD work, Chasing Destiny.  She is all grown up but still fighting the demons of her tragic past.  Ericka is a divorced teacher, left by her pastor husband while fighting cancer.  She is also fighting a strong, hidden crush on Destiny's father.  The novel is divided into sections based on each character's  birthday, and there is enough drama, romance, and fast-paced dialogue to keep readers turning pages well into the wee hours of the morning.

Eric Jerome Dickey is the author of over twenty novels, including the Gideon series, one of my personal favorites.  He also penned a series of graphic novels featuring the Black Panther and Storm, the African weather witch of X-men fame.  He hails from Memphis, but now makes his home as a nomad, traveling from place to place.  Learn more about him and his works at his website.

This novel takes readers on a roller coaster ride of emotions.   I laughed out loud literally at the antics of the women and their sharp wit and brutal humor.  I cried with them as they faced heartbreak and disappointment.  I raged against men who broke their hearts, and in Ericka's case-a bitter mother who was much better at dishing out bitterness and animosity than love.  On the other hand, I marveled at the strength of the relationship between Indigo and her mother.  As they discussed relationships, her mother told her, "you are better than me, Indigo.  You are better than me in every way.  You are the woman I admire and adore.  Don't let a man kiss you and turn a princess into a frog."  I cheered for Destiny as she fought to reclaim her life and stop living in the shadows.  I nearly stood up and shouted "Amen" when she told a man from her past, "I am a black woman, overworked, stressed, abused, and I have demons.  Oppression, fear, being marginalized creates demons.  Every black person in America should have demons, or they are spiritually dead.  You'd have to be crazy to not have a breakdown."  The novel is not all serious conversation, however.  Those EJD fans who turn to his books for the spine-tingling, graphic sex scenes will not be disappointed.  There is truly something for everyone in this novel.  This is a true gem from a beloved author.  EJD certainly rose to the occasion with this work.

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