To judge “The Coldest Winter Ever” simply by the red, bright lips adorning the front cover would label the book as a tawdry supermarket romance novel and underestimate the cultural impact one book can make. Geared toward a jaded generation, hip-hop activist Sister Souljah challenges today’s status quo.
Souljah penned a novel centered on a young teenage girl, Winter, who is the daughter of a drug lord. The girl, not only best friends with her mother, but also Daddy’s little girl, thinks she is untouchable on the streets. There is no man Winter doesn’t believe she can seduce.
Midnight, one of her father’s loyal foot soldiers, enters the picture to capture Winter’s heart. She becomes determined to make him hers. Her futile attempts combined with circumstances that take her family away from her send this scrappy lolita on a downward spiral. She ends up scarred and imprisoned.
Published in 1999 at the onset of a new century, “The Coldest Winter Ever” was an instant smash with its audience. Celebrities such as P. Diddy praised the author for infusing life into the title character, Winter, and navigating the young woman from one surreal experience to the next. The book was also listed on the New York Times Bestsellers list. “The Coldest Winter Ever” is developing its status as a classic for all ages within the African community.
This is a real book talking to real people and its beauty lies in its insistence on political incorrectness. Despite the raging cultural wars, the book does not shy away from the taboo subject of a young girl using her body to manipulate others. Souljah paints a picture, not of the idealistic world where Donna Reed is the next door neighbor, but rather of the contemporary life of a drug trafficker.
The novel does not preach right from wrong. “The Coldest Winter Ever” allows readers to make judgements for themselves. Readers can relate to a part of each character, recognize their own errors and learn how to change themselves.
Stephanie Guerilus can be reached at Luv2BSteph@aol.com.