juanita

Juanita

by Kenney Brown

Reviewed by The Pathfinder and Kisha Green
February 2010 / April 2010

Synopsis:

The story is set in St. Louis and takes the reader along with Juanita as she is taken in from the streets by a drug dealer and is taken into his life style. When rivals take down the dealer, she leaves him to be with another only to later be reclaimed by him and returned to his world. After having been abused by the dealer, she plots a revenge that rids her of him, and places her in a position to take over his empire, which she does with amazing success. Through it all, she delivers a child and longs to be rejoined with the child's father. At the fall of her own empire, she finally gets her wish to be rejoined with the father of her child. Betrayal would end that relationship and she would again be alone Her life is like a tug-of-war between the streets and something greater. The wild cards in it all are the crooked law enforcement officers who, in some ways, seem to be the worst criminals in the story. The end is final and disturbing but true to life.

Reviewed by: The Pathfinder

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When I first picked up Juanita by Kenney Brown the cover immediately caught my attention. I thought it was refreshing and different. I delved into it without any angst but the high I had initially, quickly faded. Juanita started out as a misguided teenager who knew way too much for her years. Living in a dysfunctional household along with the every day habits of parents who were involved in just about everything imaginable, Juanita decides to run away from home. A chance encounter by a young thug who goes by the name of Ro gives her a new lease on life. You quickly got the sense that Juanita and Ro, both teenagers would hit it off. Ro, a drug dealer conducts is business in one of St. Louis's most notorious housing projects where he also lives and where the story is set.

Wanting to be a part of something different and the need to escape from her past, Juanita delves into the drug world with a naivety that is almost childlike. When Ro is confronted by his rivals he decides to hit back. As things began spiraling out of control, Juanita dumps him for another man. She eventually returns to him, but with a heavy heart. It wasn't long before she fell in love with one of his close friends and began a roller coaster journey filled with abuse and ill-treatment. Left with no other alternative other than to get revenge, betrayal was the vise she used to get even. She made a name for herself in the drug world, but while doing so she winds up pregnant and loses control of her empire.

I thought the author tried his best to highlight many of the nuances that so many dealers experience when dealing with crooked cops, betrayal, drugs, friendship and loyalty, and at the same time dealing with the inevitable which is incarceration or death.

What did you like best about this book?
The humanity of Juanita, in spite of her flaws.

What did you dislike about this book?
It was 418 pages, and it was quite a slow read. There was hardly if at all any dialogue between the characters. It wasn't formatted correctly. I thought the author was using certain words at times which wasn't needed at that particular point. The storyline was very difficult to grasp. The transition from the past to the present was difficult to follow. I cringed every time I picked up the book. Honestly, it took me a while to actually get into it. It wasn't an easy read.

How can the author improve this book?
He could improve on the character’s development and use a lot more dialogue which was non existent. I cannot emphasize it enough, dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. I felt as if I was reading the newspaper or some college textbook. The narrative was way too much for me to handle. The storyline was another issue I had a problem with. It wasn't strong enough. Here's an example of how the few dialogue exchanges were set up instead of the norm: “I'll be back in a minute. I'm going to get your clothes.” “Your food's waiting,” Juanita yelled. There are two people speaking in this exchange. I couldn't decide between the narrative and the few instances of dialogue which was better. There was an abundance of typos strewn throughout the book. An editor would be a great asset. I didn't know what to say or do as I read this book. But to be fair to the author and myself I read all 418 pages. When I was done, I was at a loss for words. If the author does all the above, Juanita would be a decent read. I would suggest that he get a really good editor and do a revision.


Reviewed by: Kisha Green

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The debut novel, Juanita by Kenney Brown will grab your attention because of the cover. It is a hand drawn picture of a woman with her head hanging down and from that alone you know that Juanita has a story to tell. It may not be good or perhaps she is ashamed of herself and the choices she has made in her life.

The story takes place in St. Louis, Missouri where young Juanita is poverty stricken and her life at home is anything but right. It's nothing to write home about. She is a young girl lost and looking for a better life. The streets were calling and Juanita answered.

Out on the streets, it is survival of the fittest and Juanita is doing what needs to be done to get by. If that means hooking up with drug dealer, Ro, so be it. Juanita's new life with her new love gives her a sense of contentment. It’s the closest thing she has to normal. She is living the fast life and eventually what comes up must come down. Juanita sees first hand that in the blink of an eye, your life can be gone.

Author, Kenney Brown tells a story of self-discovery and though Juanita knows right from wrong, she finds herself in predicaments where she should have known better. This is a book about the fast life and a young girl out there trying to find her way. Brown goes further to show what happens when you want to live a “ghetto fabulous” lifestyle. Like most drug dealing tales, someone either ends up dead or incarcerated while telling their story from behind bars.

Juanita was a very long and hard read for me because I was anticipating the storyline to pickup. It felt as if the author had good intentions but the delivery was often delayed throughout the 418 pages. He attempted to illustrate that a life of crime will not result in anything good. He also introduced the reader to a character that became conditioned to believe that she was deserving of the abuse that she suffered.

What did you like best about this book?
A male author telling a tale in the voice of a female. This can be challenging for some writers but I felt it was conveyed well.

What did you dislike about this book?
I felt that the book was entirely too long and the pace of the storyline could have increased sooner rather than later. Perhaps, there could have been more dialogue earlier amongst the characters. I also disliked the typesetting, the font was very small and narrow.

How can the author improve this book?
As stated above, better typesetting as well as a quality editor that could help the author tweak the weak points of the book for a better revision.


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.

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