50 books by Authors of Color: Book 19
Title: Orange Mint and Honey
Author: Carleen Brice
One of the awesome side effects of this project is that I’ve been able to go through and read a lot of the books I’ve accumulated over the years that, as a student, I didn’t have a chance to read. Orange Mint and Honey is one of those books. I apparently got my copy used from the Public Library (It’s a softback so I think it was maybe fifty cents!) and it’s complete with a blacked out barcode and a “Withdrawn” stamp.
Shay is twenty-five years old and studying to get a Master’s Degree, or at least she was. Shay is exhausted, so much so that she’s stopped going to classes and has been asked (really ordered) to take a semester off. Broke and with no place else to go, Shay returns home to Denver, Colorado to the home of her mother, Nona and her four year old sister Sunny. This isn’t a happy homecoming though, Shay doesn’t want to be with her mother, a recovering alcoholic and is uncomfortable with Sunny. Nona struggles to prove to Shay that she is taking her sobriety serious but Shay is deeply wounded from memories of being left alone at night while Nona went out drinking and getting high. There’s a particularly tear jerking memory wherein Nona is gone for nearly a week leaving a very young Shay all alone.
Nona really does seem to have changed, but Shay continues to feel alienated from Nona, especially because of Ivy, the young woman Nona is sponsoring. Ivy doesn’t understand Shay’s hatred for Nona and wishes that Nona were her mother instead of Shay’s. Shay does however manage to make and maintain friends, Oliver, a young man that Shay meets at a record store and later dates.
The Oliver-Shay relationship subplot is the only thing in this book that I didn’t like. It’s not the relationship dynamics that I disliked, it’s the whole “black women don’t have abortions” tripe that just gets pushed in. My own opinions on abortion aside, statistical data completely refutes that statement and yet the otherwise seemingly intelligent women in the book just kind of nod their heads and go along with it. Not to mention the whole false belief that having a baby will make you forgive your own mother and get your life back on track. I’m really unsure how a baby solves everything because I think in reality, they rarely do.
Overall Rating: 3/5