3 out of 4 stars
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Reader, I don’t read many books like Timothy “TBone” Hicks’ Brothas from Anotha Motha. They’re not really my kind of style and the way they portray women tends to make me mad inside. That being said, I did give this book a chance and I was really very entertained.
Somehow, I think that’s what matters here, enough so that I gave it 3 out of 4 stars.
Brothas from Anotha Motha is the story of Rick McMillan and Jason Hill, and their crew of young men in Oakland, California. The book takes place over a year as they sell dope, have sex, and generally commit a variety of crimes during that time. When rival “OG” Ben-Killa comes home to a dead nephew, it starts a war that takes up most of the book’s short page count. The climax is bloody and dramatic, what happens well worth reading the book to find out.
Reading the synopsis, I wasn’t hesitant at all to read this book and that paid off. It’s a quick read and the characters are stoic and emotional in turns, making an investment in them easy. I liked that, despite the narrative using the language of the streets, I was still able to understand and follow the action. Many mistakes can stem from this, but Hicks knows how to balance street talk and a storytelling persona to get the best out of both.
I also really liked the way Hicks managed to balance his cast without making them feel underdeveloped. The main characters, Rick and Jason, were front and centre but there was also room for characters like Little Vick to get their own time to shine. It was pretty fun to see Vick fall in love while trying to maintain his street persona, as was seeing KP’s reunion with his father. It showed a softer, contrasting side to each character that made them easier to like when faced with their reprehensible acts.
The book’s take on masculinity was interesting to me as well. Given the hyper-masculine nature of the subject matter, I did not expect it to embrace these men’s softer sides. That it did was both refreshing and wonderful amidst the violence, sex and profanity that permeates the novel. Hicks peppers the pages with a lot of swearing and several explicit sex scenes, so the emotional part of the novel tempers those quite a bit as well.
However, I will say that the sex and profanity were a bit too much for my tastes. It felt like every chapter had a sex scene and the amount of swearing made me raise my eyebrows. While I understand that this is written from the author’s experiences, it was a bit hard for me to read sometimes. I’m surprised that I got through the book as quickly as I did because it was a lot. Though, this is more a matter of personal preference than any real flaw of the novel.
Hicks has a gift for words. He knows how to tell a story and he knows how to tell it well. While the book could use some editing for grammatical errors, it’s mostly technical stuff. I’d recommend it to folks who love gangster stories because it’s worth the read. However, it’s not for the faint of heart or children due to the proliferation of sex, violence and profanity.
Brothas from Anotha Motha
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