The Forbidden Secrets of the Goodie Box

The Forbidden Secrets of the Goodie Box

by Valerie J. Lewis Coleman & Christopher Reid
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Reviewed by: Push Nevahda
July 2010

According to Reid and Coleman, The Forbidden Secrets of the Goodie Box is about a thirty-five year old woman named Debra Hampton. She’s successful, (fiscally) attractive, intelligent, “yet a satisfying relationship eludes Debra Hampton. At thirty-five years old, she can’t figure out why her philosophy on men—and what they want from women—isn’t working. She’s trapped in a cycle of shattered relationships, until a friend refers her to a relationship guru. After some resistance, Debra finds refuge in the counsel of Doc Reid as he helps her navigate through the storms of rejection and failed love.” 

That’s all fine and dandy, but the book is so poorly written that we never get to move beyond its noble pretenses. The dialogue is saturated with clichéd matters, unbelievable conversation, uncritical discussions, with generalized solutions. (Do people actually talk this way?!) None of the book is original, and we are ultimately imprisoned in a steel caged holding cell where we are forced to endure what is possibly one the year’s worst novel (with the timeless exception of T. Nicole Robinson’s terrible novel, My Own Terms). But, for the sake of getting something for our hard-earned money – $14.95 US / $18.95 CAN – we tire through the boring session of this sloppy novel hoping for redemption, but all we get is a grand lesson in disappointment and regret.  

In terms of narrative, structure, form, storyline, plot, style, character development, or just plain ole basic creativity for that matter, it is clear that neither Reid nor Coleman knows anything about the craft of writing. Coleman has a degree in Industrial Engineering and teaches Math. She also has a grad degree in Business Administration, and perhaps this is where her strengths lay: The book is nicely presented, and could easily be mistaken for a Beacon Press or Random House subsidiary experiment. And after a brief perusal of her publishing company’s official website, Coleman certainly understands the business of publishing and how to sell a book. But that doesn’t make her a writer.

As well, Reid is a self-proclaimed “life coach” but confesses that he is “not a medical doctor, his God-given insight makes one believe that he has a Ph.D in matters of the heart: a relationship cardiologist.” He and the wifey actually run a side business which “promotes health and fitness”. According to, “after experiencing numerous chance encounters, Christopher turned his passion into profession. He now helps a plethora of people reconcile relationships and continuously evaluate life in order to make significant improvements.”

In the end, my experience with Forbidden quickly turned to contempt and condescension for having taken such a wasted chance with Reid’s and Coleman’s dire attempt to write a book which supposedly “enlightens women about how men process attraction and empowers women to keep the box on lock.” The book is just bad. Poorly conceived, poorly structured, with characters that seem unrealistic (would a lawyer REALLY respond to Vincent the way Debra did?), with a topic that is unjustly treated. And the writing just plain ole stinks:

She pointed to Debra as if she were a freak at a side-show carnival. “Her dark, puffy eyes look like a football player with that black stuff on his face.” Sherry tried to comb her fingers through Debra’s coal-black hair which cascaded mid-way down her back: an attribute of her Cherokee heritage. “Her hair is so matted, my hand is stuck. Tell me that’s okay with you and I’ll let go.” She cocked her head to the right, waited for Rachel’s response. “Her acne had flared up and don’t tell me that you are not offended by how she smells. That is a-w-f-u-l!”

The dialogue is tired, trite, ill-conceived, contrived, and the narrative lacked imagination, and had no depth and meaning. At times, the reader is left to wonder where any given chapter is headed. The only interesting part of the book is the scene where sherry is confronted with her personal issue of fornication. In this following scenario, Reid and Coleman explore the (pornographic) complexity of god, faith, and sexual sinning:

[Nicholas, Sherry’s minister boyfriend] often threatened to leave Sherry for a more obliging woman, if she didn’t take care of his needs. He talked her into doing things that disgusted her and after the deed was done, he made her kneel on the side of the bed. With the bedroom smelling of sex and semen running down her legs, he told her to pray for forgiveness.

On that note, Forbidden will likely find redemption in a large Christian readership due to the popularity and demand of those types of books that offer sex, deception, secular lifestyles – under the backdrop of church, pulpit, and congregation. Both authors appear to be well connected to the church world so it is perhaps where they will find their greatest success. However, I take the art and craft of writing seriously. And, because of that, I cannot endorse or “bless” Reid’s and Coleman’s shoddy book. So ... read it at your own risk.

What did you like best about the book?
I thought the book’s cover was pretty impressive ... but deceivingly so ... like Heart Smart™ labels on Mc Donald’s salads ...

What did you dislike about the book?
Everything between the book cover and the back flap ...

How could the author improve this book?
Hire a ghostwriter. Coleman should stick to what she knows: math and teaching; Reid should continue to coach the good and plenty desperate and desolate women who actually believe that I man like Reid is going to tell them what they need to hear ... .which is ... men are irreparably condemned to an eternal fate of dog-dome ... with an infinitesimal chance of recovery. Meanwhile, leave the storytelling to the professionals.

The views expressed in published reviews are solely those of the reviewer. The Urban Book Source cannot be held accountable. The information featured, represents that of the reviewer and not that of The Urban Book Source. The reviewer takes full responsibility for the information presented.

Comments page 1 of 1:
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A. T. hicks :
Posted 2184 days ago
Push, I discovered this website today and am already one of your biggest fans. That review...SCATHING! I haven't read it, but your honesty was refreshing...and hilarious!
Posted 3001 days ago
"Damn Push, tell um how you REALLY feel, son..!" lol

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