The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotosho
I requested this book at my library just to make sure I was the first to get it once it was released. No reason other than the Nigerian name and accolades it was getting. Per usual, I had no idea what it was about. I finally got it and I did not finish it in the allotted library time (21 days). Not a good sign because that is more than enough time to finish a book. I joined a wait list and requested it again and still struggled with getting through with it. And that pretty much sums up my reading experience.
The book details the story of two elderly women who are neighbors, Hortensia James who is black and Marion Agostino who is white. They both reside in post-apartheid Cape Town, South Africa. Both hardened by life and its experiences and also recently widowed, the woman hate each other and make no efforts to hide it. Something happens that force the women to live together and we get to see them open up to each other as best as they can and give a little insight as to why they are so bitter.
I read so many favorable comments about this book, I was determined to experience it for myself but it just never happened. I couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters. The second half of the book got a little spark and some quotables (I love a good quote) but I really didn’t feel sorry for them as characters, which I usually do whenever the subject is about older people. I think the writing had potential but I just wasn’t feeling the subject matter. Overall, I found the book bland, monotone and in desperate need of keeping me interested.
The Mother of Black Hollywood by Jenifer Lewis
I did this book on audio because it’s Jenifer “motherfucking” Lewis and I figured hearing her narrate her own life would be fun and entertaining and it was. I enjoyed listening to this book but overall, I was underwhelmed. Jenifer is pretty outspoken about her bipolar disorder and about the fact that she is on medication to control it. She has also been with the same therapist for 17 years and the way she talked about therapy made me want to book a session. I think that she’s doing a lot for mental health education particularly in the black community and this book is a testament to that.
Jenifer talks about her childhood, growing up poor and her relationship with her mother. She talks about being molested as a teenager, being almost raped as an adult and her tumultuous relationships with men and sex. There’s a lot to unpack in this book but I felt like it could have been better arranged, a lot of it jumped around and sometimes, I found it hard to follow the exact timeline. She name drops a shit ton of people in this book and at some point it’s like “ma’am, stop littering and pick up all those names”
She is one of the few Hollywood minorities that have had quite a consistent string of jobs, she booked her first Broadway show just weeks after moving to New York after graduation and has continued to book jobs till now. For fans of Black-ish, she talks about how much fun it is to work on that set and how she got that job without an audition. She has been in the industry for a long time and she has still had to audition for almost every other job she’s had in Hollywood.
Overall, I enjoyed this book even though it was a tad bit underwhelming due to my high expectations. If you decide to get this one, get it on audio. Also, save your audible credit and get it from your library. I gave this 3 stars on my Goodreads.