By Irene Nichole Harris
Bottom Heights is a novel set in a
city, fighting against drugs and violence.
Raymond Drake is like a father to the community,
protecting them from Blade--a deadly enemy bent on revenge.
But this powerful business mogul is about to face his
most challenging obstacle yet which deals with repairing his
relationship with his daughter, Tatiana (Tay).
Her mother, Evelynn has made sure that after their
divorce to prevent any form of reconciliation between the two.
But after several years, Tay decides to return to Bottom
Heights to attempt to salvage her ties with him and finally have
her questions answered. However,
she doesn’t count on her childhood friend, Neeko Gains coming
back into her life.
Tatiana (Tay) Drake spent most of her life
growing up under the strict and stern hand of her mother,
Evelynn. Her parents divorced when she was twelve and in order to
solidify the chances of Tay never rekindling her relationship
with her father, Raymond (Ray) Drake, Evelynn filled Tay’s
head with horrible stories of his sorted lifestyle.
Evelynn begins by explaining that Ray was a murderous and
notorious gangster, ripping the means of survival from the city
of Bottom Heights. Evelynn
portrayed Ray as an unfit and reckless father who cared for no
one—not even his own daughter.
Despite the closeness she had with her father when she
was younger, she believed her mother.
She further explained to her that in order for Tay to
live a life free from chaos and pain, Evelynn had no chose but
to Ray. Her plan to
distance Ray and Tay works perfectly for ten years, until one
day Tay decides to visit her father and give him the opportunity
to reestablish that which was lost.
Their reunion gets off to a bumpy start when
Ray is almost two hours late picking her up from the airport. He apologizes but Tay knew it had something to do with his
current line of work. After
she accepts his apology, she decides coming back to Bottom
Heights was not that bad. It
even gave her a chance to reunite with her childhood
friends—more importantly, Neeko Gaines. But her mother’s depiction of Ray is confirmed when she
questions the extremely built and muscular driver awaiting their
arrival outside the airport.
Ray reluctantly tells her that the driver is actually his
bodyguard and she will be chaperoned by a bodyguard during her
upset by his declaration, Tay is tempted to return to the
airport and leave for New York, but her anger subsides.
Once she has settled in, she reunites with
three of her childhood friends who are elated to see her again
after so many years. All
three work for Ray and Neeko is appointed as her bodyguard to
the relief of Spice who did not want the responsibility.
She is instructed that under no circumstances is she
allowed to leave the house without Neeko.
Her independent nature revolts against her father but the
point is made and the discussion ended for Ray did not have time
to deal with her tantrums.
He had a ruthless killer on the streets that called
himself Blade. No
one knew his actual identity but he has a reputation for selling
drugs anywhere he could, including schoolyards.
He killed one of Ray’s closest friends after Ray
refuses to allow him free reign in Bottom Heights.
Ray struggles to keep this from his daughter and
instructs no one to discuss the specifics of day-to-day life.
As Blade’s lust for control of the streets
grows, so does the attraction between Neeko and Tay.
She even decides to attend a college closer to Neeko in
hopes of establishing a more permanent relationship.
When she tells her father this, Ray strongly objects and
is pushed to explain that Neeko’s lifestyle is no different
from his. He has no
chose but to explain how he protects the livelihood of every
person in Bottom Heights. He
also informs her that Neeko will one day be a Father to the
streets of Bottom Heights because of his lung cancer. . . . [The
plot thickens. Check out this first novel.]
Irene Nichole Harris is a native of
Florida and the oldest of eight brothers and sisters.
She went to Divine Mercy Elementary School, John F.
Kennedy Middle School, and went on to Cocoa High School.
She credits her mother’s love of poetry and the ability
to create an imaginative world out of words as the driving force
behind her talent. During
her senior year of high school, Ms. Harris began her first
novel, but due to personal setbacks, the piece would not be
completed for several years.
After graduating high school, she attended the University
of Florida as a pre-med major however after she took her first
class in African-American Literature, she could not deny her
passion for writing. At
the same time, Ms. Harris harbored a desire to serve her
country. In 1996,
she enlisted in the Army and pushed her writing career aside.
She has been in the military for seven years and
currently a Sergeant. In February 2002, she focused all energies on
completed Bottom Heights—the novel she began in high
accomplishment of self-publishing her first novel created a
writing fervor which has spearheaded many other projects in the
making, including three novels and a book of poetry.
Ms. Harris has written several articles for Brown Diva,
pieces for 4LoveofPoetry and Aspire2Write, and is
a member of the Black Writers United and the Mighty Write
When not in military uniform, you can catch
Ms. Harris sporting her full Afro in front a computer or pencil
and paper in hand creating her next masterpiece.
Ms. Harris believes that too often writers fall into the
habit of conforming to what everyone else thinks they should
write, but it takes real courage to express individualism and
originality. She is
also a student of Cameron University, majoring in Human
Resources and Business Management.
* * * *
* * * * *
Salvage the Bones
A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—
* * * * *
The New Jim Crow
Mass Incarceration in the Age of
By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the
rosy picture of race embodied in Barack
Obama's political success and Oprah
Winfrey's financial success, legal
scholar Alexander argues vigorously and
persuasively that [w]e have not ended
racial caste in America; we have merely
redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial
segregation has been replaced by mass
incarceration as a system of social
control (More African Americans are
under correctional control today... than
were enslaved in 1850). Alexander
reviews American racial history from the
colonies to the Clinton administration,
delineating its transformation into the
war on drugs. She offers an acute
analysis of the effect of this mass
incarceration upon former inmates who
will be discriminated against, legally,
for the rest of their lives, denied
employment, housing, education, and
public benefits. Most provocatively, she
reveals how both the move toward
colorblindness and affirmative action
may blur our vision of injustice: most
Americans know and don't know the truth
about mass incarceration—but her
carefully researched, deeply engaging,
and thoroughly readable book should
* * *
(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
update 27 December 2011