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Momma Said, “Hit ‘Em Back! - Book Review
OK - This is a fiction book, set in Memphis Tennessee, in the 1990’s.
What’s it about? - This story is about 26 year old Louvious Johnson, who is wrongly imprisoned for murder. He comes from a black American family, who live in a poverty stricken neighbourhood (known as “the hood”), amidst the struggles of gang land crimes, drugs and alcohol. This is a story of incredible courage, about how a young man, from a tragic background is able to completely transform his life for the better.
What can you say about the story telling? – I was blown away by the storytelling. The voice is strong, has attitude, is right on, and humorous without trying to be! I could almost hear Cynthia reading her own story out loud, as I was reading it! The scenes of violence, the descriptions of life in prison and the hardship people suffer, were incredibly vivid. I thought Cynthia wrote with a masterful confidence. She also writes fabulous dialogue.
There is so much emotion on this book. I have just picked out one quotation that was of interest to me. I hadn’t realised the anger that I guess many prisoners feel -
“Rage is what I feel most of the time. I’m mad at Momma because she was irresponsible and didn’t take care of us. I’m angry at my Pops because he was a deadbeat. I’m angry at them fools that killed my brother, Tae, because they was supposed to be his partners. I’m angry at Quita because she influenced me to do the wrong thing ...”
What did you think of the characterisation? – The characters are very strong in this book. Momma features prominently in the story and here is a description of her that is a great example of Cynthias' powers of description -
“Momma came to the school that morning just before lunch-time. Tat turned out to be one of the most embarrassing days in my life. Momma showed up with some pink, wrinkled up pajamas and some dirty, runned over bunny rabbit house shoes. Her latest wig, one of many wigs that Momma wore, was twisted to the side. She had a 40 ounce of Suds (Momma only drank Blue Label) in her hand. She was there to see Ms. Saunders because I called her a bitch. Instead of Momma telling me not to call my teacher names, she walked over to me in front of the whole class and said, “Stop cussing that bitch out before I knock the shit out of you.” To make matters worse, Momma set the beer down on Ms. Saunders’ desk, took of her filthy house shoe and hit me dead in the mouth. Ten she said, “Yo black ass is gon’ get some more when you get home.” ...
The protagonist is Lou, who as the reader I developed strong feels for, very early on. His plight is clear, and he is a good man. Strong, consistent, thoughtful and sincere, he dreams of a better life for himself and his girl.
“I am stripped down to my underwear. I’m cold, I’m sore and don’t feel nothin’. I’m not angry, I ain’t scared, and I’m not depressed—I feel absolutely nothing. The silence is different though. I don’t believe I’ve ever experienced this type of solitude. I try to recollect when I have ever been alone with no noise. I realize for the first time that I really don’t like to be by myself. Why have I never been alone with me? Am I that bad? Do I like me? I hate myself. I never ever knew that about me. I need to get out of here. I bang on the door screaming for someone to let me out.”
What was good about reading this book? – As the story unravelled, this book very quickly drew me in. Although it is inherently a sad tale, there is a lot of good here too, and some of the writing is actually humorous. I really wanted to know what happened and felt sad when I turned the last page!
What didn’t you like? – I would have liked to know more about what was going on in Momma’s life, and the rest of the family.
How did reading the book make you feel? – I felt sad for people who have to suffer the miscarriages of justice. I loved the twist in the story and Lou’s personal achievement in turning his life around
Would you recommend this book? – Yes. This book is a different sort of book. It is a crime story, a psychological story and a story of hopes and dreams. I thought it was extremely well written.
How many Daisies for overall readability and enjoyment?