Coleman, Evelyn. Born in sin – Brief Article – Young Adult Review

Coleman, Evelyn. Born in sin – Brief Article – Young Adult Review – Book Review

Claire Rosser

Simon & Schuster, Pulse. 265p. c2001. 0-689-85552-4. $5.99. JS

To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, March 2001: This is a complicated story about a smart African American girl dreaming of a better life, escaping poverty, her mother’s dead-end jobs, and her crime-ridden neighborhood filled with people who have given up. Keisha is entering 10th grade, hoping to become a doctor. studying hard, making good grades. In the summer of this novel, she is a part of a program for young people “at risk,” a term she resents. As the weeks unfold, she finds out just how “at risk” she really is and she is ready to give up her ambition, give up her dreams, as one crisis after another overtakes her family and friends.

As interesting a character as the talented Keisha is, her mother, her best friend, and her older sister are also women whose lives and life choices are riveting. Readers see that Keisha’s decisions actually are affected by the decisions these other women close to her have made. Each one has given up dreams; each one has made choices that perpetuate the self-hatred that causes Keisha to feel that somehow they are all “born in sin”–doomed to poverty, ignorance, and self-destruction. At the end of this novel, a catharsis occurs that clears away the secrets that have kept them from their dreams, and with this cleansing comes hope for Keisha. Some may feel that it is a too-happy ending; I for one was glad to hope for Keisha’s future happiness.

As to style: Keisha knows that sometimes her English is ungrammatical, but she knows correct English; this fact is reflected in the narrative. Other characters also use various forms of English, from street talk to middle-class standard, and Coleman juggles this well. There is some mild swearing; there is mention of molestation; there is an attempted rape–but the worse violence is the day-to-day struggle of Keisha, her family, her friends and neighbors–and the destruction of their lives and their dreams.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Kliatt

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group