African-American Literature · book review · Clutch Magazine List · fiction

Book Review 32 Candles By Ernessa T. Carter

956978432 Candles

Written By Ernessa T. Carter

Published June 22nd 2010 by Amistad

(first published June 8th 2010)
Paperback  352 pages

Davie—an ugly duckling growing up in small-town Mississippi—is positive her life couldn’t be any worse. She has the meanest mother in the South, possibly the world, and on top of that, she’s pretty sure she’s ugly. Just when she’s resigned herself to her fate, she sees a movie that will change her life—Sixteen Candles. But in her case, life doesn’t imitate art. Tormented endlessly in school with the nickname “Monkey Night,” and hopelessly in unrequited love with a handsome football player, James Farrell, Davie finds that it is bittersweet to dream of Molly Ringwald endings. When a cruel school prank goes too far, Davie leaves the life she knows and reinvents herself in the glittery world of Hollywood—as a beautiful and successful lounge singer in a swanky nightclub. Davie is finally a million miles from where she started—until she bumps into her former obsession, James Farrell. To Davie’s astonishment, James doesn’t recognize her, and she can’t bring herself to end the fantasy. She lets him fall as deeply in love with her as she once was with him. But is life ever that simple? Just as they’re about to ride off into the sunset, the past comes back with a vengeance, threatening to crush Davie’s dreams—and break her heart again. Synopsis from goodreads

I found this book thanks to the Clutch Magazine list of black women authors to read. I have to say that list has led me to so many great books and 32 Candles is no exception.  I loved this book for several reason, the biggest being how much I identify with Davie. She had a much harder home life but, I was mercilessly teased in middle school and actually had similar experiences to some of the ones  in the book. Because of that, the idea of going somewhere else and reinventing myself was something I fantasized about all the time. When Davie gets the opportunity to do just that I loved it.  At times I found myself thinking Davie was too grown to be making certain decisions. Often her thinking and her actions were almost childlike and, that kind of bothered me. As I read further I realized that her decisions actually made sense because she was emotionally stunted thanks to her home life. If you have ever seen Sixteen Candles or Pretty In Pink or any of those teen movies that came out in the nineties then you will have an idea of where this book is going.  What 32 Candles does however, is inject some grit and a few unexpected twists to the story to shake up some of the predictability.  Most of the side characters are around throughout the story so you get to know them, they are also mostly unlikable.  I am not one who needs to love or even like the characters in a book so it did not bother me at all.  Overall this was a lovely, fun book with just enough darkness and drama to keep it from being cheesy. 32 Candles is the kind of book that would translate so well to the big screen.

Ernessa T. Carter is definitely an author I will be watching out for. 32 Candles is her first book but, her next book  The Awesome Girl’s Guide to Dating Extraordinary Men  drops tomorrow 9/24/13.

Check out Ernessa on her blog Fierceandnerdy or on her website 32Candles


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