4 out of 4 stars
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I introduce this review by quoting the words of one character, Lena. “If you’ve been a certain way for so long you can’t remember when it was any other way, you can tell when something is different.” Lena is a lonely, old widow who lost two of her children in war and is estranged from her other remaining sons. She had become accustomed to her miserable life which was filled with many regrets until she crossed paths with a young girl called Kalayla. Kalayla lost her father to an accident and ever since, she has always felt obliged to be the pillar of strength for her mother, Maureen. This probably became a determining factor in molding Kalayla into a stubborn, arrogant and aggressive girl by the time she acquainted herself with Lena. Lena sees Kalayla as her path to redemption and hence she is very willing to go out of her way to keep Kalayla out of harm’s way. She tries to bring her up well by correcting her mannerisms, something that she had been unable to do with her own children.
Kalayla by Jeannie Nicholas is a fascinating book about three women who find hope through supporting each other. The main theme that formed a substantial part of this book was the importance of family and friends. Many people came together to offer a helping hand to the three women throughout the book in the face of challenges. Lena was able to go through tough times in her marriage because her mother and her friend Carlotta were there for her. Carlotta also aided her when she was handling Kalayla. When Kalayla was temporarily lost, Lena’s allies joined forces and went out at night in the harsh winter to find her.
The book touches on racism. Maureen is a white girl who fell in love with Jamal, a black boy. On their first encounter, Maureen is very uncomfortable with engaging with Jamal as she has been groomed to believe that people from his race were to be shunned. When her mother catches wind of their brewing relationship, she strongly disapproves by putting much emphasis on the fact that their family would lose respect from the community due to her ‘silly’ escapades. However, Maureen goes ahead and gets married to Jamal. Her family completely disowns her, a price she must pay for her disobedience.
The story was wired immaculately from scene to scene. The book was narrated from the first-person point of view with each chapter being narrated by either of the three women. It was suspenseful and very humorous, making the book easy to understand and to have an aspect of authenticity. That is what I liked most about the book.
There is nothing I disliked about the book. The book was well edited except for the few minor errors I came across. Instances of profanities, vulgarity and light sexual content are encountered in this book. Therefore, I highly recommend this book to young adults or a mature audience.
Taking into consideration the author’s employment of comic relief, professional editing and the exceptional plot, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I am looking forward to reading more books by the author.
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