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Orange Mint and Honey: A Novel

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Carleen Brice

In Brice's accomplished debut, African-American Shay Dixon, a burnt-out grad student, has a visitation/fantasy/fever dream featuring Nina Simone, the high priestess of soul, who counsels Shay to go home. To do that, she must face Nona, the drunken failure … see full wiki

Tags: Book
Author: Carleen Brice
Publisher: One World/Ballantine
1 review about Orange Mint and Honey: A Novel

What Would Nina Simone Do?

  • May 7, 2008
  • by
Rating:
+3
Carleen Brice, an author of such nonfiction titles as Age Ain't Nothing But a Number makes her fiction debut with Orange Mint and Honey. Shay Dixon is a nervous breakdown in the making. She is a twenty-five year old grad student who has hit rock bottom; laid off from her job, about to be evicted and carrying baggage that would break the back of the strongest of women. Not to mention she is channeling the voice of the late singer, Nina Simone who seems to be her guiding force and at this moment, she is telling Shay to go home. Home is the last place Shay wants to be. She has spent the last few years distancing herself from Denver, Colorado and her past.

Raised by an alcoholic, Shay finds it hard to forgive her mother's past neglect but that is exactly what her mother is asking--forgiveness. Shay returns to find her mother has made a transformation. Nona is now an employed homeowner replete with Martha Stewart living, a healthy lifestyle and a flower and herb garden. She is also the mother of another daughter, five-year old Sunshine. Shay watches as her mother is the epitome of motherhood as she dotes on Sunshine, something that was lacking when Shay was a child.

Shay has even more issues, baggage upon baggage that need fixing; she has a nervous habit of pulling out her hair, she is socially inept and her background is such that she guards against getting close to people. Shay gets a job in a record shop, reconnects with the only friend she has ever had and begins to navigate through her issues to reclaim her sanity and find balance. She is forced to step outside of herself as she begins dating, forges new ties, and begins the journey of repairing the most fragile of all relationships, that of mother and daughter.

There are many layers to this story that make it a satisfying reading experience; well-developed secondary characters; relationships that include mother/daughter, sister/sister, man/woman, mentor/mentee; redemption and forgiveness, and social ills. Brice came to Marcus Books in Oakland to promote the book and she enthralled the audience with her expressive reading and orange mint chocolates. This is fiction for all women that transcends age, race and economic/class lines. 4.5 rating

Dera R. Williams
APOOO BookClub
Marcus Book Club (Oakland)

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