by Erica Kennedy
I loved Kennedy’s first book, Bling, and was excited to find out that she had another book coming out. I didn’t find it right away because, unlike Bling, which was shelved in our African-American fiction section, Feminista has been placed by the buyers in Literature. For those of you that don’t know, ever since the Internet was invented, there have been ongoing discussions & arguments about the segregation of Black authors in a “special” section in bookstores. Most authors, especially of fiction, want the work that they have labored so hard over to be available to and read by the greatest number of people. They feel that a mainstream (read White) audience won’t find them in the African-American section. And because I am in the trenches of bookselling every day, I can tell you that they are right. In my bookstore, the African-American fiction section is right at the top of the escalator – the first thing you see when you step off. White people stop there and quickly move on (except for a creepy older gentleman who browses there and buys some of the urban fiction; he doesn’t liked to be greeted and I’m afraid to find out what the deal is with him). On the other hand, when Black authors are shelved in the Literature section, White people don’t buy them either. When we try to handsell them books, if they see any depiction of African-Americans on the cover, they politely say “No, thank you”. But I digress. If you want to know more about this issue, head on over to the blog of one of my favorite authors, Carleen Brice.
I said all that because, even though Feminista is written by a Black author, I believe that the story is a universal one and I look forward to recommending it to my chick-lit reading customers who are craving a little more depth. Sydney is a NYC dweller who writes puff pieces for a celebrity magazine. Although she gets to hobnob with socialites and celebrities, she is longing for something new. Her history of dating losers (aspiring artists, aspiring musicians, aspiring…you know the type), she makes the decision to get more serious and considers settling down and having a family. She enlists her lesbian sister’s help in finding a suitable husband-to-be. In a parallel story, Max, the pampered, rich son of a department store owner. His sister’s pregnancy forces her to be put on bed rest, which forces Max to have to actually come in to the store and work for real. He is feeling the same way as Sydney does. Tired of dating clueless models who only want the free merchandise they can get from him, he, too starts to look for something more substantial and permanent.
The beauty of this book surrounds the suspense of Sydney and Max. Are they going to meet? Are they serious about making changes in their lives? Will they revert back to their comfort zones? I think that the title Feminista is very important in that Sydney really struggles with her role as a single, working woman in today’s society. Like a lot of modern women, she has lost some of her femininity and vulnerability while traversing the work world. Watching that side of her evolve in the book is really interesting. I really loved this book and could not put it down.