Ratchet Review: The Proposal

Great premise and ripe with potential for hopeless romantics to enjoy.

I am not sure that I would have ever read this book if it were not recommended by my friend, Alesha. She’s not a fan of romance novels, but she happened upon this book, and said, “ Cass, this seems like a good book. You should check it out.” You see, she and I have “novel-beefs.” We both love African-American novels and authors, yet we just can’t seem to see eye-to-eye on the specific genre. She is really smart, I mean like she has a Master’s in English smart. I, on the other hand…well, I’m just happy I can read. Alesha tends to read books with the tragic heroes of historical literature, while I tend to lean ever so slightly toward the comical musings of street-lit a.k.a urban fiction!  Books like, Baby Mama Drama or Thugs and The Women Who Love Them…don’t judge me We argue all the time.  “Cass! Why are you reading that shit? ” Because it’s funny.

Anyway, I think she recommended this book because it seemed to fall somewhere in the middle, but honestly, I didn’t want to read it. It is…a romance novel. The gist of the story is that the main character, Nik, meets Carlos who rescues her from a humiliating marriage proposal at Dodger’s Stadium. Ever so grateful, she becomes his friend, and they embark on a gratuitous,  and mutually beneficial, friends-with-benefits relationship. It’s all good until one of them confesses love and the other one has to decide do they or don’t want to take the risk and open their heart for love to reside. 

Great premise and ripe with potential for hopeless romantics to enjoy. However, my hopeless romantic days died a long time ago. Like I said, initially I didn’t want to read it. Having grown up with Harlequin and Avon Romance novels, I should have been giddy. When I grew up, I realized that some of these books were just glorified porn, and having survived a few relationships of my own, I also realized that love just doesn’t happen like that. I’m jaded, but I thought I would give it a go. I was going to give the book one chapter, and if I didn’t like it I would put it down.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised! The author did a nice job telling a story of how the foundation for a healthy relationship begins with honesty, communication, and friendship. The Proposal was a light-hearted look at what could happen if two people are honest with each other, let go, and have fun. The author also explored how emotional baggage has an impact on how people relate to one another in relationships. Nik’s previous boyfriend was an asshole, a critical asshole at that. He criticized her, and he broke her heart. The result: Nik becomes a serial monogamist who tends to break-up with men before they break-up with her. Carlos, on the other hand,  has placed a large amount of pressure on himself to support and care for his family. He is the self-appointed father-figure and feels like he has no time for anything meaningful. They are both emotionally unavailable; consequently, they feel they are perfect for what they want from each other: just sex. 

As a reader and ex-hopeless romantic, I was sold. This is real-life. I didn’t want to read another book that lied to me about how great and easy it is for people to fall in love, I’m too old. I know the truth.  love is like meatloaf; you mix all of these different things together, blend it, and beat it until it’s smooth, then, you bake it for a couple of hours until it ends up being delicious. That’s love. You put in the work and effort, and it becomes great. 

Again, it is a romance novel, so I am sure you can predict the ending. And, it does have that bubbly, romance novel tone and feel to it. I needed just a little more “ratchetness!” OH!! And I LOVED that the characters were from diverse ethnicities, but I wish the author would have been more descriptive about their cultures and backgrounds. Sometimes I felt like I had to guess, “Is this person White, African-American or Hispanic?” 

Overall, it was a nice enjoyable read. I give it three and a half bookmarks out of five📚📚📚📖. Great for reading on the beach. Get you a copy before you go on summer vacation!

Michelle Obama is Everybody’s Homegirl

She isn’t the best friend we wish we had; she is the best friend we KNOW we have.

God is truly good to me. God and my friends. Thank you, Kiphani for thinking of me and allowing me to experience a dream come true, getting to see my First Lady. It is surreal. I hate that word. It is so overused, but that is the only way I can describe this experience. 

If this post seems incoherent then please blame two things: fatigue and excitement. I rushed home to get my thoughts on paper because I wanted this post to be as authentic as possible. I am not a journalist so writing a play-by-play would really be doing a disservice to what I experienced tonight. I really just want to share the range of emotions I felt listening to Mrs. Obama, how I felt hearing and seeing her in person for the first time. 

I am sure it is the training of being a lawyer, a professional woman, a mother, and the former FLOTUS that makes her have the ability to speak to thousands of women in a sold-out stadium and make us all feel like she was speaking to each of us personally. Michelle, that’s what I call her because she is my friend in my head, is everything we used to be and everything we aspire to be. She is the epitome of a friend. She was honest, reflective, respectful funny, transparent, kind, hopeful, humble, elegant, classy and real! She isn’t the best friend we wish we had; she is the best friend we KNOW we have. We all have a Michelle Obama or two in our everyday lives. At least I do. In Michelle, I see my mama, my sisters, my nieces, my sorority sisters, and my friends. She reminds me that I don’t need to look for squad goals. I already have them. Her conversation was familiar and anecdotal because I have had those same conversations with my friends. So for me, Michelle Obama is a symbol of the familiar;  the average, but not the ordinary, woman on a journey to becoming who God has called her to be. She was and is refreshing. In a world filled with reality stars and shows where women tear each other down, gossip, fight, backbite, compete, and bully one another, it was good to be reminded that that is not who we are, or who we are meant to be. We are striving to be servants with purpose designed to make the world a better place and our connections to each other, even in our differences, unite us. It felt good to hear that and be surrounded by it. Surrounded by thousands of people who felt the same way.

More than anything, Michelle Obama reminded me of the value of community. That is what being a real homegirl is about. Family and neighbors living together around a shared set of basic values. When she spoke of her family and how she was raised, it reminded me so much of my own family. How I witnessed everyone coming together to make sure that our needs where met whether it was paying a bill, making sure a kid had lunch money, going to church, learning to vote, babysitting someone’s child, or just sitting around shooting the shit. My grandmother, mother, aunt, uncles, and cousins. It was a united effort to help each other survive. The sense that the struggle is bearable if we all stick together, and the sense that if you work hard you can accomplish anything. 

Experiencing Michelle Obama live and in-person left me encouraged. I left feeling inspired. I left feeling hopeful. I left feeling like I had just chatted it up with my friend who gave me the best advice and then hugged me while she said, “Girl, it’s gone be alright.” She was phenomenal.

Click here for a snippet from the evening.

Ratchet Review: An American Marriage

Ok. I know I told you guys that I don’t write book reviews, but dang it, I have to share what I read with someone.  I finally finished An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and personally, I’m a little pissed. First let me say this, there is a reason that I don’t read the books on the Oprah’s Book Club list. Auntie Oprah tends to go for content with suffering and tragedy. Me, not so much. When I read, I want to escape my day-to-day existence. I want to laugh. I want mystery. I  want love. Intrigue, drama even. Basically, I want a reality show in words. Not Oprah. Oprah likes downtrodden and forlorn on an intellectual level, and honestly, I am not that smart. Self-deprecation aside, I just don’t want to be depressed when I read, and I find that Oprah selects books that leave me feeling like I need to book therapy appointments for the next year. I. Can. Not. Deal. Which brings me to An American Marriage. I had hope that this book would be different. Boy was I wrong. 

Enter Roy and Celeste, star crossed lovers who marry a few years after they meet in college.(Side note: another reason I don’t like writing reviews is because my summaries tend to be too long; I’ll try to keep this one short). Roy is a country boy who made it big and Celeste comes from black royalty…well not royalty, but her family has a little paper. She’s wealthy. Kind of like Dre and Bow on Black-ish. Roy is doing his thing in the business world of Atlanta, and Celeste is an artist finding her niche making poupees, dolls made of fabric. They visit Roy’s parents in the small town of Eloe, Louisiana when Roy gets arrested and falsely accused of rape. Celeste tries to hold Roy down (stand by her man for regular folks) while he is locked up, but soon finds herself feeling like she and Roy don’t have the commitment level needed to maintain the marriage. Celeste decides to leave the marriage and starts caping for Roy’s best man and her friend, Andre. Needless to say, Roy gets ghosted and Celeste shoots him the deuce (she leaves him in the jail cell he’s stuck in).

Now, that is the gist of the story, but in the words of my pastor, “Let’s start over and see what the Lord is telling us today.”

The Lord told me that Celeste was trifling! She vexed my spirit for the entire book! She was selfish, self-absorbed and immature. She didn’t understand what commitment truly was. Commitment is staying with your husband when he is in jail fighting a rape charge. She was his alibi. She knew he was innocent. When the rape happened Roy was with Celeste. I really wanted the author to explore what it would have taken to stay. Instead, she wrote a character who was cliche. Don’t get me wrong, if she wasn’t already married to Roy, I would understand her shooting dude the deuce. However, they were already committed to each other and she basically said, “Nah, bruh! I’m out.” 

Next, Roy was stupid. He had this false humility thing going on. “Don’t wait for me,” but he really wanted her to be ride or die. Then say that! She can’t read your mind. Then she wrote his ass that Dear John letter and the truth came out. He was pissed and was like, “Don’t write me no more…but can you keep putting money on my books…and keep having your parents pay for my attorney to beat this case?” Really ______?!!! I could see that happening in real life. LMAO!

Oh and don’t forget Andre. I won’t waste too much time on him other than to say that Roy gave him a much needed ass whooping that Andre’s daddy told him he deserved! That was my favorite part of the whole book!

Is it a good book? I guess…Oprah says it is. It is well written. I think, in my humble opinion, the book really took a look at how communication can make or break a relationship. It showed how adversity reveals the true character of a person. Love and commitment happen when the butterflies fade and the sex stops being bomb. When you are arguing and fighting and trying to figure out how to navigate the world together. When your kid is sick and you don’t know what to do. When the month is long and the money wrong. The person standing beside you is the person that truly cares for you.  If someone runs from you when trouble starts, they aren’t meant for you. It doesn’t mean you are going to like each other all the time, but you are committed so you CHOOSE to stay and love that person through the good and the bad. That is an American MARRIAGE. The book doesn’t give too much hope for hopeful romantics. So, I will give it a 3.5 out 5 bookmarks because I was hooked on the story, I just hated the characters and I was in my feelings! It was good…I want my money back though, but I borrowed it from a friend.