4 out of 4 stars
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Being different is hard. To stand with those who otherwise are ostracized is even more difficult. How much sacrifice can we make for what we believe to be true and right? What if it appears to go against family values and ideologies? And when we get to the point when and where we must decide who and or what is most important, would we cut our nose to spite our face? These formed the background for the book Kalayla by Jeannie Nicholas which followed the experiences of three women at different life phases.
For Maureen, hers was a decision to treat someone right even when she knew she shouldn’t. This lay the foundation for many more challenges she would face. I could relate with and empathize with Maureen and the decisions she had to make. She believed people should be given a chance and I believe so too. This for me was a high point in this book. Lena had made mistakes in the past and life now offered her a chance to right her wrongs. And she did just that. The youngest of the three was Kalayla. She was a brave and smart kid who seemed to be at the center holding them all together. She gave strength to Maureen, and she brought light and color to Lena.
I found the characters were real and relatable with delightful personalities. I was so drawn in I seemed to forget it was fiction at some point. Jeannie was able to weave the life and experiences of these three women into an intricate piece. She gave each one's story equal attention as she wrote from each person’s point of view. This allowed me into their minds and thought patterns. It helped me relate in a special way to what they each felt at every point and with each life-shaping event they experienced. It made me see that no one is infallible or always right. We act or react based on our perspectives often built on the information we have. Some of which might just be mere assumptions.
Although she didn't express the thoughts of the other characters from their points of view, the character development was superb. She showed how their lives and decisions affect these three women. I found nothing to dislike about this book. I can say it was professionally edited since I found only a few errors that did not affect my satisfaction with this book. For these reasons, I rate Kalayla 4 out of 4 stars. I must mention I also loved the simplicity of the book cover. It paints a picture of three worlds in my mind, and the book did well to bring these worlds together.
The book teaches tangible life lessons with a blend of good humor. With detailed descriptions, the author touches on some sensitive subjects like racism and sexuality. There is also some use of profanity and mild violence which would not distract from the core of the book. Based on these, I think fiction lovers who do not find any of these problematic would enjoy this book. I would love it if the book could have a second part because some questions in my opinion are unanswered.
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