The Forbidden Secrets of the Goodie Box
by Valerie J. Lewis Coleman & Christopher Reid
Reviewed by: Push Nevahda
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 ChristopherReid.org, “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:
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:
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.
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