I am Your Sister: Season 2 by Ericka K. F. Simpson

Publisher/Date:  EKS Books, Apr. 2013
Genre(s):  Romance, Religious, Family, Stud’s Point of View
Pages:  287
Website:  http://www.ekfsimpson.com

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Forgiveness. An 11-letter word whose concept is hard to give and even harder to do.

It is also Symone Holmes’ Achilles heel, and the emotional theme flowing through Ericka K. F. Simpson’s I AM YOUR SISTER: SEASON 2. The college basketball star is all grown up in the sequel to the previous I am Your Sister, but she learns life gets harder out of school and off the court.

At the novel’s start, Symone has a female b-baller’s dream: she’s the top draft pick for the WNBA,  about to graduate college, and considering forever with the love of her life, Regina. Nothing could make the point guard happier. Then she gets a phone call that her mother has had a stroke – and it brings her unhappy history with her mother front and center.

The relationship between Symone and her mother Paula became rocky the summer before her sophomore year in high school when it was “discovered” that Symone liked girls. Through flashbacks, a flood of painful memories continue to haunt Symone, reliving her mother practically disowning her. Paula refused to acknowledge her daughter’s lesbianism, and their bond disintegrated to zero contact. Moving on with her life, it took being away at school for Symone to put the past behind her but she never forgave her mother or herself.

This guilt takes its toll on her relationship with Regina in ways Symone didn’t realize. It’s the answer to why she is never able to fully open up. Why she feels she couldn’t bring Regina home to her family. Why never she allows Regina to share in her past hurts. Really, Symone could blame her generational curse for her inability to share her emotions, passed on from the male elders in her family, but she knows she can’t rely on excuses when both her mom and her future wife need her. It’s time to truly play ball, and this time, she needs this victory to heal her heart.

I’ve mentioned before that I am Your Sister is one of my favorite books, mainly because Symone is such a complex character. Simpson puts her everything into Symone, and after reading her memoir, Living With 3 Strikes (which you should definitely pick up), I understand how Simpson is inspired by her own experiences in IAYS2. This gives Symone the touch of realism that I’ve come to expect from this writer.

Symone is deeply-drawn, far from perfect, and trying on her adulthood with the help of God. She doesn’t pretend to be something she’s not and doesn’t apologize for whom she is. There’s also a down-home appeal to this Virginia-reared stud, one I found refreshing.

I am Your Sister 2 does have its minor flaws –  the ending left me flabbergasted – but between the laughter and the “wows” I had while reading convinced me that I will always have a soft spot for Symone Holmes.

Now I’m ready for another season.

Reviewed May 2013

Just This Sistahs Opinion: Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day

A story about my mom…

Last week, my mother and I were watching the local 6 o’clock news. One report that grabbed our attention was a story about domestic partnership registry becoming available in our city. Now both gay and straight couples can register to be granted rights as unmarried couples or couples whose marriages or aren’t recognized under state law. Under the registry, domestic partners can make health-care and end-of-life decisions for one another, visit one another in the hospital or jail and take part in educational decisions of their children. It’s a big step for our sleepy college town.

Watching two men sign the papers to have their relationship recognized, my mother made her trademark sound of, “Mmmmmm.” It’s the noise she makes when something doesn’t agree with her (think of the “ooooh” cat from Puss in Boots, and you get the picture).

Then the next thing she said is, “You better not go up there!”

She meant City Hall to register a domestic partnership with my girlfriend.

My back was facing her, so I couldn’t see her face. But I knew my mother, in her usual fashion, was half-joking, half-serious. While my relationship is no secret to her, it doesn’t exactly motivate her to run though the streets, announcing her baby daughter has a female partner.

So I laughed and returned the joke, “I’m grown. And what are you gonna do if I do?”

To which my mom replied with a smile, “You just better not be up there.”

Despite my mother’s warning that I stay away from City Hall with a black pen in hand, I know she wants the best for me in all aspects of my life. My sexuality is still a tender spot for her (it will get better), but she loves and accepts me. As long as I’m happy, I believe that’s all she cares about.

She knows I’m happy.

No matter whom I’ve dated, her love remains unchanging. She always calls me when I don’t call her after a couple of days, threatens to stay a week with me when I’m sick, and detects even the slightest distress notes in my voice.

Most importantly, my mother prays for me. Every morning, she sits for a spell with her Bible, and her talks with God ensure her child is safe, healthy and in His hands.

My mother’s prayers, I’m sure, have kept me.

And for Mother’s Day, and all the days between, I’m thanking God for her.

Just This Sistahs Opinion is column about lesbian literature and life.

Truth Disguised by Quandi

Publisher/Date:  Lulu.com, Dec. 2008
Genre(s):  Coming of Age, Romance, Contemporary Fiction
Pages:  245
Website:  http://www.truthdisguised.ning.com

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

A woman’s appearance doesn’t define her sexuality, so dressing like a boy shouldn’t make you a lesbian, at least that’s what Francis “Frankie” Livingston believes as she struggles with her imposed identity in TRUTH DISGUISED by first-time author Quandi.

Tell that to her family and friends. They think her tomboy attire, the fact that she’s never really had a boyfriend, and masculine demeanor are signs that she loves the ladies. Frankie hears it from her mother, who boisterously disapproves of her daughter being gay because of her own demons, and from her all-boy circle of friends that accept her but wonder out loud if she likes boys or girls. Only her father and girly twin sister, Arianna, support her no matter what or whom she chooses.

That’s the thing, though. Frankie doesn’t know what she wants. She’s always felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body, but can’t say for sure that means she’s a lesbian. When her dormmate, Tasha, becomes an admirer, Frankie pursues this flirtation with reservations. She’s intrigued at being with a woman, and gives Tasha the relationship she wants, but secretly, Frankie has always held an attraction to her best friend, Maurice.

This confusion has been a life-long burden for Frankie, haunted by whom she should be and whom she should love. Society tells her one thing, but her head tells her another. It’s when serious issues arise with her family that she realizes her heart is the only thing she should listen to.

In Truth Disguised, Quandi has created an appealing heroine in conflicted Frankie. Her protagonist’s journey is enhanced by fully-fleshed supporting characters, like her parents, sister and four homeboys. Also, the “don’t judge a book by its cover” message isn’t forced on the reader. It’s only the grammatical errors that take away from the plot. I was a little sad at the ending, but it’s an eye opener for sure. A book for teens and questioning women alike, Truth Disguised proves appearances aren’t everything.

Reviewed November 2009