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*****= An all-time favorite
****Shayla's Double Brown Baby Blues
by Lori Aurelia Williams
Simon & Schuster, New York, 2001. 300 pages.
I like Lori Aurelia Williams’ titles. This book is a sequel to When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune. I hadn’t read the earlier book, but I still enjoyed this one.
I’m not crazy about young adult books that deal with gritty “realistic” themes. Too often, the nastiness colors the whole book into an unpleasant experience. This lyrically written book doesn’t fall into that trap.
The book starts when Shayla’s irresponsible father has a new daughter born on Shayla’s birthday. The new baby looks like Shayla, and it hurts her to see her father bursting with pride over the new baby when he’s hardly ever given Shayla attention at all.
This turns out to be the least of Shayla’s troubles. Her friend Kambia, who was rescued from a horrible fate in the previous book, begins receiving packages reminding her of her horrible past. Kambia reacts by completely withdrawing, and Shayla doesn’t know how to help her.
Another friend, Lemm, who seems together despite his rough past, turns out to have more problems than meet the eye. Shayla wants to help him, too, but doesn’t know how to convince him to stop his self-destructive behavior.
What makes this book beautiful instead of merely sordid is the character of Shayla. She’s a tremendously loving person, and the reader also gets caught up in her concern for her friends. This is a book with serious themes that also makes an enjoyable reading experience.
Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund. All