Book Review by, Paris Chanel
Published: June 18, 2021
I want to start by stating, I still am and will always be a Sister Souljah fan. She will always remain on my very short list of literary heroes, forever. If you know me, you know one of my favorite books in the world is, The Coldest Winter Ever, a book I first learned about from my 8th grade teacher, Mrs. Hall. She was a hilariously inappropriate teacher who loved to rant about her “cheating, low down, no good husband” and other topics you wouldn’t typically hear coming out of a teacher’s mouth. I personally loved it and her authentic energy. Every Monday morning, the class would spend twenty minutes discussing what was new in the media. One Monday she didn’t give any of my classmates a chance to share because she wanted to tell us about some book that she had spent all weekend reading. Without giving away too much of the story, she spent the entire 20 minutes passionately explaining how intense and raw the story was and how brilliant, Sister Souljah is. I would have described Mrs. Hall as passionless, so to see her with so much enthusiasm about anything, had me sold. The following weekend, my childhood church friend and I were chatting, and she casually brought up how tired she was because a book she was reading had her up until 3 in the morning. Take a wild guess what book it was. Yep! The Coldest Winter Ever. Back then it didn’t take much to convince me to read a new book. Actually, this is still the case, but two endorsements for the book, in under one week, made me eager to read it. I called my fellow book worm, my stepmother, and she had the book sent to me less than a week later.
Much like my teacher and church friend, I could not put the book down. Winter, the main character of, The Coldest Winter Ever and Life After Death is beloved by fans. She is a young beautiful woman who thinks she knows it all. This attitude leads her to trouble each time, yet she continues to make the same mistakes, repeatedly, but in different scenarios. This is annoying, yet I still find myself rooting for her. Young Winter’s life was very appealing to 14-year-old me (the age I was when I read the book) due to her freedom, perfect body, beauty, and fashion. I grew up and realized how horrible her life really was. She lost her virginity at 12, was exposed to so much at a young age – a result of growing up in the projects like; prostitution, murder, drugs, overdoses, and so on, Not to mention that her world was turned upside down after her mother was shot and father went to prison. She was forced to live on survival mode. (A brief reminder that this book was recommended to me by my 8th grade teacher. Ha!)
Along with my attachment to Winter, I also loved her father (Santiaga), her crush (Midnight), and her sisters. The Coldest Winter Ever did not have a predictable ending, but a realistic one. That is typically one of few fates of girls who have to grow up too fast like, Winter. The book ended with Winter being sentenced to 15 years in prison (because she wouldn’t snitch on her no-good boyfriend, Bullet), her father was sentenced to life in prison, mother became a drug addict (and died), and the list goes on. As sad as the ending was, it was a satisfying one. We knew where everyone was and what they were doing. This satisfaction is what I think triggered a lot of disappointment from the fans towards the sequel.
Life After Death starts with Winter getting out of prison after her 15-year sentence was complete. She appears to be shot to death while exiting the prison and enters a spiritual afterlife. The best way I can describe the plot is, Dante’s Inferno meets, The Coldest Winter Ever. No one, including me, a supernatural lover, was expecting a supernatural book. Like, ‘Why am I not in Brooklyn?’ was my question after the first few pages. I was not expecting to be in Limbo, but I kept an open mind because, as I stated before, one of my literary heroes wrote it. Winter basically died, went to Pre-Hell, and STILL made several of the same decisions she was making when she was 15 and chasing a drug lord’s life. Her stupidity was still annoying, but I personally appreciated a lot of the supernatural activity, Winter encountered in pre-Hell or, The Last Stop, Before the Drop, as it’s called in the book. All of that was fine and dandy. Her meeting her aborted twins was fine and dandy, but I understand how pro-abortion supporters took this as an anti-abortion statement. The kinky-demonic sex was tolerable. The only part of the book that I just could not stomach or get with was the bestiality portion.
Originally, I wanted to be the first person to write the review for this long-awaited sequel. I pre-ordered it the day it was announced that it was finally being released. I’ve read all the prequels and I am familiar with Sister Souljah’s writing style. After I read it, I decided not to write a review at all because I didn’t know what to say. I was expecting Winter to come out of prison with an 18-year-old’s boy crazy mentality that would think she had it all figured, and that was an accurate prediction. She was still depending on her looks and street smarts to get her the luxurious-drug-lord life she’s been chasing since 15. Y’all, Winter was in Pre-Hell, I’m Sorry, The Last Stop Before the Drop, trying to open a clothing store! I was so annoyed, but amazed because this was so Winter. She saw an opportunity and started planning. So there was still some familiarity here, even though we were in the underworld. Once Winter realized she was “dead” and in The Last Stop Before the Drop, she, in true Winter fashion, accepted things for what they were and started looking for ways to finesse and come up. She immediately got caught up with a man...who is also a demon. One thing about Sister Souljah, she can write a good sex scene. Sex is still Winter’s “thing” and she put in her best work for her new love interest. Everything seemed normal, despite the setting, until they had sex. Even the sex was fine, but Winter’s new love interest, demanded anal sex. When Winter refused, he didn’t force her, but warned her that he would get the anal sex from someone else. Winter being Winter, refusing to be outdone, reconsiders and allows it. For whatever reason, in The Last Stop Before the Drop, anal sex turns you into an animal, a major detail her new man failed to mention. So, after their first sexual experience in her new world, she turned into a dog. I, the reader, was concerned.
It got weirder…
Later in the book we learn that this is what the demons do to new souls; seduce them, turn them into animals, then drop them off at the final drop, which I presume is actual hell. For whatever reason, Winter’s new boo kept her around, which was completely against the rules according to Winter’s demon-boo’s sister. The sister was jealous of Winter because her brother stopped sleeping with her when Winter came into the picture. She wanted to sleep with her brother too, but her brother was only into Winter. [CAUTION: Everything you are about to read in the next few sentences is sexually explicit and disturbing.] While Winter was a dog, she continued to live with her demon boo. They slept in the bed together every night, but eventually became sexual. She would lick him (down there) while he “fingered her”. Yes, she was still a dog! I was speechless. What made it even more disturbing is that Winter kept referring to her dog genitalia as her “dog p*ssy”. Her enjoyment for what was going on was thoroughly described in the book and I remained speechless.
I normally have a theory on everything in life that I encounter. Several parts of the book had me in deep thought, like the fact that there were so many church people (literally a convent) in The Last Stop Before the Drop. I wondered what Souljah was trying to say there. However, I cannot understand why she included the dog and human/demon sexual relationship in the book. Why was it written so lustfully? I can’t wrap my mind around it. I suppose I get the same question a lot too. I wrote a humor book about my toddler son dropping an F-bomb titled, The F Word. I suppose I get asked all the time, “Why would you write a book like that?” and the answer is simple, to make people laugh. I believe Sister Souljah was trying to say something here. What? I don’t know.
The book ended on a slightly lighter note and I won’t ruin the ending for you, but I believe there will be a sequel. I believe Winter’s demon-boo and her daughter will be reunited with her, in some strange way, in the possible sequel. If there will be no sequel, I am not satisfied with that ending at all. However, I am thrilled that Sister Souljah has finally confirmed that an actual movie for, The Coldest Winter Ever is in the works. I look forward to it.
Did you like the book? Comment below (or message me) if you have any thoughts or theories on it.
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