The Coldest Winter Ever Review
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Winter Santiaga is a teenage girl. As the daughter of Brooklyn's most powerful drug lord, she’s always been pampered and protected. The Coldest Winter Ever is about her struggle to survive on her own when everything is taken away from her.

Before her family is torn apart, Winter enjoys shopping for designer clothes with her "Moms," but Moms won’t be the same after the coldest winter ever. The biggest event of their lives starts a downward spiral for Moms, once the entertaining queen.

Winter also has a close relationship with her Pops. He stayed on top by not taking any of the drugs he sold in order to remain level-headed, and he encourages Winter to think ahead and anticipate her opponent's move, like a chess player.

The author, Sister Souljah, is a hip-hop artist and a political activist with some clear messages for youth: drugs will mess you up, and unity within the community is critical to thrive. Sister Souljah writes herself in as a character in the novel. Winter finds Sister Souljah and her message irritating.

“Just then the aggravating voice of Sister Souljah leaped out of the radio and started choking me. ‘If you consciously do negative things, then negativity will rule your life.’ I sucked my teeth and thought, Why don't that b____ just move to Africa?”

Winter develops a crush on Midnight, one of her Pops’ runners. His muscular and lean physique is something to admire. He’s shrewdly planning for the day when he'll vanish from the hood, leaving the dangerous drug world behind him. It's too bad he's into that hip-hop fool, Sister Souljah. Winter just doesn't understand Midnight’s philosophies.

In the end, all the characters gather for a funeral, and it’s clear who’s found higher ground and who’s hit bottom and stayed there.

This book takes readers into the mindset of a juvenile delinquent. The author accurately shows the desperation of ghetto culture, including slang and profanity. More importantly, though, the book demonstrates the social and economic reasons why Winter gets what she does. She feels entitled to the finer things in life, and she accepts that they came through criminal activity. The ever-confident Winter is soon over her head.

The most poignant moment, for this reader, occurs at the end, when Winter is looking at her younger sister, knowing she’s on the same losing track that Winter herself had been on. In the ghetto, history repeats itself. Another drug dealer is born, another hopped-up girlfriend standing beside him with her designer clothes and baubles.

With so many valuable lessons in this book, it’s a tribute to the author that it never once comes off as being preachy.

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