3 out of 4 stars
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Written in first person by different characters in the novel, Kalayla by Jeannie Nicholas is a book that explores the perspective of life, specifically feminine. It is fiction and spans over three generations and multiple races. This book focuses on these women's families, fears, relationships, and struggles. Kalayla, the youngest of them, an 11 years old girl, is free-spirited and loud-mouthed. She is a handful to her mother, Maureen, who is still trying to find balance after the death of her husband. She moves to an apartment building owned by a wealthy old woman called Lena. She is a widow, and is also grappling with demons of her own; two dead sons and two others with whom she has lost contact.
I loved that the book had a positive tone to it. I was able to relate to the characters seamlessly. The use of first-person allowed me to experience the highs and lows of each character as if I was in their shoes. I understood why they were the way they were and connected to their struggles and victories. Each of them had interesting and passionate lives. They were full of so much pain and grand expectations of the future. Kalayla, at her tender age, encounters harsh realities about abuse, death, and race; she has a white mother and African-American father.
There were parts of the book I felt were unnecessary. A more precise and direct form of storytelling, could have been used. I did not like, the way such parts dragged on without creating real insight into the story and felt to me as empty words.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I loved the general depiction of family life, especially from the female angle; the beauty of friendships and the torture of loss. The book portrayed well the intricacies that strain and connect a family. I was drawn to each of their lives, empathizing with their difficult journeys, and I loved experiencing that .The book's editing is professional and thorough. There are no grammatical errors which makes for a seamless reading experience. The stretched-out body section of the novel is why my rating is one point shy of the top mark.
The recommended audience for Kalayla is for teenagers and adults. If you are looking for a laid-back, easy-read book, this is for you. It has a twist of hope and will leave you feeling good when you are in the mood of such. There is also a bit of romance, historical and journal. This book is a story that many will understand.
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