The Coldest Winter Ever

By Sister Souljah

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Pocket Star Books, 2006, c1999

Genres: Urban lit, street lit

Series: Not at this time, although somewhere in the back of the book Sister Souljah mentions there might be sequel from Porshe’s perspective.

ISBN: 9781416521693

Intended audience: Adults

Number of pages: 534

Setting: Brooklyn and the greater NYC metropolitan area

Time period: late 1990’s

Plot summary: Winter, the daughter of drug king pin, Ricky Santiaga, grew up in the projects of Brooklyn as a ghetto princess.  Winter never had to worry about anything.  While the majority of her neighbors worried about meeting their basic needs and not getting killed, Winter was lavished with gifts from the day she was born.  She also never needed to worry about violence being done to her, for everyone in the community knew that Ricky Santiaga would harm anyone that looks at his family in a way he doesn’t like.  This all changes, however, when Ricky gets busted and sent to jail.  Winter’s innate ruthlessness kicks in and as Winter’s family disintegrates around her, it soon becomes apparent to her that there is little that she can do other than try to save herself.  The only problem is that Winter has no real idea of what this really means.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: Quick pace from the start, although the beginning is a bit slower than the rest of the story.

Characterization: The story is told in first person through Winter’s eyes.  The story includes many memeorable secondary characters, including Sister Souljah.

Frame: The story is set in the greater NYC area, from the projects to the suburbs.  However, even in the posh Long Island suburbs, Winter remains burdened by her life’s experiences in the ghetto.

Story Line: A powerful and graphic story about the consequences of choices made under a variety of conditions.  This is not an uplifting story, but it does ring true.  Winter’s life changes dramatically as she makes her choices, but not enough so that she doesn’t ever have to stop watching her back.

Subject headings:

From PCPL:
African American women — New York (State) — New York — Fiction.
Inner cities — New York (State) — New York — Fiction.
Drug traffic — New York (State) — New York — Fiction.
Crime — New York (State) — New York — Fiction.
Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) — Fiction.

Similar authors:

From NoveList:
Teri Woods – True to the Game and Deadly Reigns
Vickie Stringer – Let That Be the Reason and Imagine This
K’Wan [Foye] – Gangsta and Hoodlum
Nikki Turner – Riding Dirty on I-95
Shannon Holmes – Never Go Home Again
Tracy Brown – Criminal Minded

Others can be found in NoveList’s featured article “Hot Topics: Street Fiction”

Other info:

This book has much additional information found at the end of the story.  It includes answers to FAQs to Sister Souljah about the book. It also includes character and character relationship analyses, as well as a character list. [Annotated 2/26/2009]

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