The perfect baby. The perfect life. The perfect crime: The Perfect Mother


Happy May as we celebrate our first best friends:  Mom, Mommy, Momma, Mother, Madre, Mimi.  The first woman who loved us – dreamed of us – before they even laid eyes on us.  I’m very blessed to still have my mother.  I call her every day, to catch up on how our days went, although she’s retired now, living the senior life in Florida, with days spent by the pool while she watches Days of Our Lives.  I, on the other hand, am usually complaining about the chilling weather in the Northeast, venting about my latest dating escapades, or excitedly bragging about my latest DIY project.

 When you’re young, your mother is perfect.  She is always right – about everything.  She is nurturing and kind, but she is also  cultivating and preparing you for the world.  My mother was my protector, but she didn’t hover.  To me, she was perfect, while I (in hindsight), was spoiled rotten with the latest toys, ballet, cheerleading and swimming lessons.  Now that I’m older, surrounded by friends who are married with toddlers, I have no idea how any of you mothers do it.  You work full-time jobs, without a nanny.  You send your children to daycare, which costs as much as my mortgage.  And, let’s not forget the monthly expenses like clothes, and diapers and formula.  Anything more is a luxury.  None of the mothers I know are perfect, but they do their damned best for their babies.

 I loved The Perfect Mother.  The author, Aimee Molloy, captures the struggles that new mothers face:  sleepless nights, difficulty lactating, intimacy issues with their partner, and post-partum depression.  Winnie, the protagonist, joins the “May Mothers”– a mommy group organized in Brooklyn, for new local moms.  They call themselves the “May Mothers” for the most simplest reason as it sounds: their babies are due in May.  Winnie joined the group for the same reason most women join mommy groups:  seeking a village of commonality.  Despite her introversion, Winnie attends the meetings with her newborn, Midas, for “May Mothers” gatherings at their local park.  Winnie is a single mom, with little help; so, when the “May Mothers” organize a  girls’ night to relieve some new mom stress, Winnie feels anxious about leaving Midas with a sitter for the very first time.  When Midas is kidnapped, this happy-go-lucky gentrified Brooklyn for the “May Mothers” completely turns upside down and each member has secrets waiting to be told.

What I liked… 

I liked how the author went back and forth between the first and the third person.  One minute, you’re outside looking in.  The next minute, you are in the mind of that particular character, absorbing all of their emotions as they feel the panic for their friend, Winnie; but also, the hysteria, confusion and dread as a mother faced with the reality of a missing child in a large city.  Whether you have children or not, you feel for these women as they try to juggle their lives as they once were, and balance their new little one.  I thought the characters were very authentic and loved how Molloy developed each one.

Truthfully, this book reminded me a lot of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, based on the book’s format and character voices.  Nonetheless, I think I enjoyed this book more than Big Little Lies, in the sense that once I got through 75% of the latter, the ending became indubitably predictable.  On the other hand, The Perfect Mother had an ending that was completely unexpected, up until the last moment and surprise, everything isn’t as it seems.

What I did not like…

I honestly cannot think of one negative critique for Molloy’s first novel.  I thought the plots and mini plots were very well laid out.  I thought each character’s secrets were exposed in due time.  Most importantly, I thought the surprise ending was worth it. 

Kerry Washington is set to star and produce the film adaptation of The Perfect Mother .  As always, I cannot wait to see her on film and bring this book to life.

Have any of you read this yet?  What are your thoughts?


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Get Out Meets Literature: We Cast a Shadow


If you loved Jordan Peele’s Get Out, then you will love Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s We Cast a Shadow. We Cast a Shadow is post-racial literary fiction. The narrator never shares his name, but you later determine that Ruffin keeps the main character nameless because he truly believes the dejected perception that he is invisible due to his black skin.

The main character is married to “Penny,” a White female who believes in the goodness of the world but acknowledges the existence of inequality. Prior to marrying the main character, she prided herself on attending protests and educating herself on different social causes. She is “woke,” as some would say. After getting married, they have “Nigel,” a charismatic boy that loves both of his parents and has undeniable cooking skills at such a young age. But the protagonist believes that there is something genuinely wrong with his son, Nigel. Nigel has a large birthmark on his face, that spreads to other parts of his fair-skinned body. But it’s not just the birthmark that drives the main character. He believes that Nigel’s Blackness, although more fair skinned than the protagonist, is a detestation that must be removed.

Whenever Nigel leaves the house, the protagonist demands that Nigel cover his head with a baseball cap. According to the main character, the hat not only protects Nigel from UV rays, as the sun can darken people with melanin, but he also does not want strangers to see the dark birthmark on Nigel’s face. He forces Nigel to put a lightening cream on his birthmark every day, hoping that the lotion will eventually dissipate what he thinks is a disgusting deformity that will prevent Nigel from having a full life free from racism and discrimination.

There were so many real life issues that the author addressed — issues that Black parents and children face every day — but presented them with such an extreme imagination that only a literary author could do. For instance, the author addresses childhood bullying, a social phenom that Black children often face when they attend predominately White schools. Although Penny explained that they could send Nigel to a more diverse school, where no one would tease the boy for his brown birthmark, the main character insists that “appearances always matter,” and faultily believed that Nigel should not only be surrounded by as many White children as possible, but also free his body of all traces of melanin.

Then, the protagonist discovers a dermatologist with a new procedure that changes minority persons of color to white. No matter the cost, the main character maintains that Nigel must have the procedure done because removing any traces of his own Blackness within Nigel is protecting him from AmeriKKKa. The main character never acknowledges that the extraction of melanin within Nigel is somewhat a removal of himself within his son, thereby only acknowledging the physical traits of his Caucasian mother. He does’t realize the preposterous and absurdness of his goals for Nigel because he is self-absorbed by the hate he has for his own skin.

Throughout the novel, Ruffin also shares ideals of colorism — the prejudice towards others with dark skin tone within the same ethnic or racial group — where the main character illustrates a disdain towards other Black Americans within his community, characterizing them as inferior despite institutionalized racial discrimination and social misgivings. He demonstrates a long-held debate within the Black community — the refusal to identify as an African American (as opposed to a Black American) due to generations removed from the continent and only feeling conjoined the the Western World.

But would this really even be a complete novel without the obligatory debate within the interracial relationship between the protagonist and Penny regarding racism in America? When the main character defends rubbing the burning cream on his son and planning the “demelanization” procedure, Nigel emphasizes the importance of the imperative “talk” between Black parents and Black children on how to conduct themselves in at all times, particularly in the presence of law enforcement officers. Penny insists that the narrator is paranoid and his revulsion towards he and his son’s blackness is anomalistic. But the main character is unnerved and relentless. When Nigel eventually runs away, the protagonist subsequently has te “demelanization” procedure performed on himself instead and insists that his new identity as a White male has freed him from the horrors of being Black in America only to realize that as a White man he feels invisible once again.

It was then that I realized the distance between us. The talk that all black parents give their children was such an integral part of my upbringing. One night when I wanted to play after dark, Sir and Mama sat me down and basically said, The chances of something like that happening to you are virtually assured.

I thought this book was amazing. The first few chapters were slightly slow but quickly picked up. I couldn’t put the book down. I was so appalled and intrigued by the main character and the demons he attempted to project on his own flesh and blood. There were some parts in the book where Ruffin took real laws (e.g., “"Why the Supreme Court Will Not Be Hearing the Case About a Woman Denied a Job Because of Her Locs”) and presented the protagonist’s America as a dystopia for Black people, as if certain current laws and policies in real life couldn’t be any more systematically oppressive than they already are. I greatly enjoyed this novel and seeing how a creative writer could take real life issues and legal policies turn them into extreme nightmares.

If you’ve already read We Cast a Shadow, what did you think? What do you think of thought provoking satires? Feel free to leave your comments below.


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The Future is Female: "The Power" by Naomi Alderman


Allie, a young runaway in and out of foster care who starts what most would consider a religious cult worshipping Mother Mary or a female God.

 Roxy, a young woman from London, whose father was the head of a local mob gang, until she takes over.

 Margot, an ambitious local politician who steadily climbs the ranks and finds comfort on the national political stage.

 Joselyn, Margot’s daughter, who struggles with her new normalcy, or lack thereof.

 And, Tunde, a male reporter who captures the female revolution around the world.

When the first incidents of women discharging electricity from their bodies is recorded, several men die or are severely injured due to the intensity of the electric shocks.  In addition, women can pass on their skein to other women who have yet to activate their new inner power.  At first, no men have skeins or electrical currents enumerating from their bodies.  Later in the novel, it is revealed that some men, although rare, do have skeins.  Just the same, some women, never develop skeins or do have a skein but their power comes and goes.

What I Liked

I found Margot and Allie to be the most interesting characters in their own rights, with Allie and the voices in her head leading a bunch of girls like sheep.  And Margot, who failed to genuinely help her daughter with her emotional and mental health because she is too blinded by the greed of money and political domination.  Tunde, who initially started out as my least favorite character, was eventually almost raped by a woman who tried to incapacitate him with her electrical shocks.  Tunde showed his vulnerability as both a man – in a woman dominated world – and a journalist, risking his life on every possible terrain, just trying to seize a good story to share with the world.  I thought Tunde was very metaphoric in how women feel on a daily basis, consciously aware of our surroundings at all times, hoping that our precautions will prevent us from falling victim to any attacks simply because we are a woman.  Tunde was constantly both in fear and awe of women, recognizing that a woman could easily and quickly take his life, simply because he was a man.

I also liked how this book illustrates that world domination, simply based on gender, doesn’t necessarily make it a better place.  You often hear people say, “If women ran the world, there’d be no wars.”  The Power gives a “yeah right” to that false assumption, demonstrating that women too can be stupefied by the many forms of power, physical, emotional, mental or financial.  War and the exchange of arms still takes place.  Sexual assault still takes place.  Segregation still takes place.  Even the isolation of women and girls in camps takes place.  The world, in Alderman or “Armon’s” view, didn’t necessarily get better simply because women took over.

What I Did Not Like

I’ll be honest. I do not think this book is the “next Handmaid’s Tale,” as many critics suggest.  It got rave reviews and is about a women led utopia (or dystopia); so, I thought it’d be a cool fictional novel for Women’s History Month.  Sigh.  I could’ve read something a little darker and more gratifying like Stephen King’s “Sleeping Beauties.”  There were several moments in the book where I was bored.  Some characters were more boring than others.  For example, I thought certain characters, like Roxy, were fillers.  Although she eventually crosses paths with Allie, her character didn’t captivate me or make me feel like she provided a major contribution to the overall plot.  I felt like it was a slow read and the excitement really didn’t pick up until I was 200 pages in.  I thought that the description of how the women feel, when they use their power, could’ve been more detailed.  The author could’ve dug a little deeper.  Is it worth reading? Sure.  Is it something that I want to read again? No.  Nonetheless, I’m sure there’s already a sequel and movie in the works.


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After the Storm by Nisia Skyy


After the Storm

By Nisia Skyy

After the Storm by Nisia Skyy is a Michael Douglas “Fatal Attraction” or “Basic Instinct” novel gone wrong. Brooke and Rashad were high school sweethearts until, like many young lovers, became caught up in the real world and ended things shortly after starting college. Unbeknownst to them, their lives would cross paths again, in more ways than one, thanks to running in similar circles in Atlanta, Georgia. Even though both Rashad and Brooke each moved on physically in new relationships, they both held on to their past love, repeatedly self-sabotaging their new relationships.

What I Liked…

I wasn’t expecting this novel to have some suspense. That was a pleasant surprise for me considering I am a lover of psychological thrillers and mysteries. Rashad ends up having a stalker, which starts to put a wrench in his bachelor lifestyle. But when he and Brooke cross paths again later in graduate school, this stalker becomes more than a headache and you find yourself not wanting to put the book down to see if either of their lives are in danger.

I also liked Rashad’s underlying story — having a difficult relationship with his father — thereby causing the character to distance himself from his parents, his father’s church and subsequently his faith. I also liked how the author revealed why Rashad has intimacy and trust issues as an adult, stemming from his childhood; and, illustrating how a family secret can damage multiple persons across generations and familial lines.

What I didn’t Like…

I would have liked Rashad’s stalker, Natalie, to have been developed more for the reader. The author gave a brief background describing the start of her erratic behavior; but that part of the book lacked depth. I felt like there were so many layers to Natalie and she was a major factor in helping Rashad come to terms with his behavior in culminating toxic sexual relationships.

I would recommend Nisia Skyy’s first novel. I thought the story was very relatable. I completely felt like I was Brooke in graduate school and I had dated Rashad back then as well. I loved how both characters struggled with their faith and the realism in questioning your own path and whether or not you are living at your best. Equally important, this book was about forgiveness; forgiving not just people who hurt you, but also remembering to forgive yourself, when you left yourself down. Both Rashad and Brooke had a hard time forgiving themselves, for very different reasons; but, in the end, their trying times were only temporary, eluding to the author’s title.

You can purchase After the Storm here.

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Top 10 Lessons I learned from "Becoming Michelle Obama"

For my first book review, I thought it would only be fitting that I talk about “Forever FLOTUS” Michelle Obama’s Becoming. Mrs. Obama does an incredible job with her first written piece, a memoir of her life, both before and during the White House.

I absolutely loved this book. Not just because it was written by the First Lady, but because it was so relatable. Mrs. Obama begins the memoir on Euclid Avenue, on the South Side of Chicago. She talks about witnessing the struggles that her parents faced, her father, a hard working city employee, and her mother, a stay-at-home mom, sacrificing much of their own aspirations to ensure that she and her brother Craig excelled academically. Showing sheer vulnerability, Mrs. Obama opened up about the early-on struggles in her marriage — a busy State Senator for a husband, and the difficulties in getting pregnant.

Mrs. Obama also shared her own issues after moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She reminisced on the media paying more attention to her expensive (or inexpensive) J. Crew dresses, as opposed to listening to the words that materialized from her lips, advocating for healthier foods and employment for veterans. I also thought it was telling when Mrs. Obama wrote about the hardships on living in the White House, whether it was the Secret Service disallowing Malia to meet up with friends for ice cream after school, or not being able to watch a soccer game. Mrs. Obama showed her humanity, the frustration in feeling restricted, not being able to move freely when you want, how you want or where you want, all for the privilege of being married to the leader of the free world. Like so many other realizations, Mrs. Obama became more accepting of her new world in the spotlight and decided to channel her frustration and energy towards reachable goals that she knew could be realized through the Office of the First Lady of the United States.

Michelle Obama speaking about her memoir with Sarah Jessica Parker at the Barclay’s Center Arena on December 19, 2018. Getty Images.

I tried to communicate the one message about myself and my station in the world that I felt might really mean something. Which was that I knew invisibility. I’d lived invisibility. I came from a history of invisibility....And in standing at a lectern in front of students who were thinking about the future, I offered testament to the idea that it was possible, at least in some ways, to overcome invisibility.

Becoming is a really good reminder that no one is perfect. It’s completely human and natural to struggle with finding who you are, what your passion is and what you’re actually good at. Becoming shares a lot of teachable moments on how Mrs. Obama became her best self. With it being the New Year and so many of us focusing on renewed goals, I thought I’d share some of those lessons, that I intend to make a conscientious effort to incorporate.

  1. Be unconventional.

    Mrs. Obama is both a January baby and a Capricorn. We capricorns are overachievers, do-gooders, ambitious until the very end know-it-alls. So, imagine my surprise when she revealed that when she was a little girl, she’d tell relatives, friends of her parents, or essentially any inquisitive adult, that she wanted to be a pediatrician. The adult would respond, “My, that’s impressive!” And she would feel good about her response and believed that it was the right direction and course of her life. Going to Princeton ultimately changed her trajectory and Harvard Law School became appealing to her. Becoming a lawyer was still impressive enough for the acceptance of others.

    This spoke to me. When I was three years old, my father bought me a Fischer Price doctor’s kit, with a faux leather doctor’s bag, plastic stethoscope, a fake arm cast and needle. I played doctor on all of my baby doll’s and told my father that I loved my doctor’s kit so much, that I would one day be a baby doctor. He promptly corrected me and said, “No, the correct word is pediatrician.” And I told myself, until I was a junior in high school, that a pediatrician was exactly what I was going to be. I received the same acceptance from elders, “My, that’s impressive,” not realizing that I wasn’t really paying attention to my heart’s true desires. Even now, in the legal field, just as Mrs. Obama, I realize that as young persons - especially those of us who are our ancestors’ wildest dreams - we sometimes choose the impressive path to seek the approval of others.

    The First Lady spends most of the book determining that she cannot base her life on the approval of others, whether it’s her career path, how she maintains her marriage or raises her daughters. Mrs. Obama does a great job articulating how she found her true calling, diverting from the impressive path, while still being of service to others.

  2. Be of good faith.

    As Mrs. Obama dealt with her struggles in redefining her career to align with her passions, she often worried about whether walking away from the impressive path was the right move for her, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Sometimes, we have to trust and believe that walking away will lead to the opening of new doors, that we never thought were possible. “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

  3. Be unafraid to fail.

    No one likes to fail, but even the First Lady has fallen and picked herself back up. She suffered her first setback after graduating law school. She failed at the next predictable step in her life. She dusted her sparkly Balenciaga boots off. She tried again. She succeeded.

  4. Be knowing of your worth.

    I loved the story of how Mrs. Obama was now a mother, trying to balance her home life with getting back into working. President Obama was still a State Senator back then, spending most of his work week at the capital in Springfied, Illinois. When Mrs. Obama was ready to get back to work, she decided to take a position at the University of Chicago where she negotiated her salary and her hours, making sure that she had flexible time to tend to her daughters’ needs. Mrs. Obama was ready to walk away from the offer if the University was unwilling to meet her needs as a working mother.

    Whether you’re negotiating your salary or debating the idea of ending a relationship where you’re feeling undervalued, know your worth Then, add tax.

  5. Be resilient.

    Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Jill Biden periodically volunteered with veteran organizations and even frequently visited Walter Reed military hospital, to visit with wounded soldiers and thank them for their service. The First Lady met numerous veterans but so many of them carried the same theme: they did not want sympathy or pity. They were thankful for the opportunity to have served their country. Her stories of the soldiers serve as heartfelt lessons that whatever curve balls life throws at you, you have to keep going.

  6. Be confident and strong.

    Mrs. Obama makes it plain and clear: confidence comes from within oneself. She maintains a repeated mantra throughout her memoir — Am I good enough? Yes, I am.

  7. Be prayerful.

    The Obamas didn’t join a church in Washington, D.C., sacrificing their desire for a spiritual community to prevent unnecessary media and “bad faith” attention on the church itself and its congregation. Mrs. Obama expressed how there were many nights where she would look over towards her bed and see her husband praying with his eyes closed. Mrs. Obama used prayer to block out the noise of she and her husband’s critics, still exercising her faith in private.

  8. Be a mentor and pay it forward.

    Mrs. Obama started a leadership and mentoring program at the White House, inviting high school girls for monthly gatherings. Each girl was paired with a female mentor, who would share her personal story and resources. These girls were nominated by their school principal or guidance counselor, and the mentoring program seemed very small and under wraps to prevent a media circus. Mrs. Obama explained, “My wish for them was the same one I had for Sasha and Malia — that in learning to feel comfortable at the White House, they’d go on to feel comfortable and confident in any room, sitting at any table, raising their voices inside any group.”

    Mrs. Obama’s stories of mentoring and meeting school girls in Washington, D.C. and Chicago really stressed to me that I’m not doing enough giving back to my community. I live in Baltimore, where there are so many children who need assistance with literacy. i’m hoping to get back into volunteering with my local school district and paying it forward.

  9. Be patient.

    During President Obama’s second term, the President and the First Family flew to South Africa, where they met Nelson Mandela. Mrs. Obama wrote about how surreal the experience was, meeting the civil rights leader. The meeting reminded the First Lady of all the struggles Mandela endured, being imprisoned for 27 years, only to finally be freed, end apartheid and become the President of South Africa. Nelson Mandela’s story taught Mrs. Obama that all of the change she and her husband to bring forth in the United States took time; that she and her husband were simply planting seeds of change with the hopes of mobilizing future leaders to continue on.

  10. Be visible.

    As the memoir concluded, there was one common theme that the First Lady held onto all the while becoming who she is today. She never allowed detractors to silence her voice. She recognized what it was like to feel invisible in an overcrowded public school, not getting a valuable education. She knew the history of her family’s own invisibility, being the descendant of a slave, who’s ancestors’ stories were lost in time like so many other African Americans who’s ancestral history is unavailable to us because of the slave trade. As women or minorities, Mrs. Obama emphasizes the importance of overcoming invisibility, finding ways to use our voice and be heard.

What did you think of Becoming? Leave your comments below!

You can purchase Becoming by Michelle Obama here.

Bed: Frontgate | Pillows: Target | Duvet Cover: Wayfair | Quilt and throw blanket: Home Goods | Flower Vase: High Fashion Home


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