Timothy Stelly Sr rated it:
Gail Mcfarland rated it:
Read in April, 2009
The trials of Princess and Obie both highlight and underscore the book's triumphant themes of redemption, trust, and faith, and I was again captured from page one. Like Part 1, this book is written in Brooklyn Darkchild's mesmerizing dual voices, and tells a complicated story that is well worth sharing.
Part 2 is more than simply entertaining. It is a visit with family -- you know, the ones you didn't get to choose, but they are yours, so you stick with them through thick and thin. Then you share their ultimate joys and pains -- again, because they are yours. I am glad that Brooklyn Darkchild chose to share her vision with This Ain't No Hearts and Flowers Love Story, Parts 1 and 2, and firmly believe that Brooklyn Darkchild is an author to watch.
It is difficult to review this book without being the bearer of "spoilers." The story is raw and totally contemporary, and under other circumstances, or in the hands of another writer, it might become both trite and ordinary. With a different writer Obie and Princess might be lost in the sea of what is fast becoming traditional "street lit."
Happily, this is not the case. Their story is phrased in a modern epic poem by a skilled and talented writer. Boldly written in a style reminiscent of Spoken Word, this evocative, originally told urban love story brings an amazing voice, vibrant style, and sensual reality to the fore, making This Ain't No Hearts and Flowers Love Story Pt 1 a stunning and worthwhile read. To say that I was impressed from page one is an understatement.
My only regret? The wait for Part 2!
During my plane ride, I was reading this book in one hour of nearly one-hundred pages out of 297 pages. This is a quick read once you get engaged and engrossed with the two main characters. Baby Girl (BG), also known as Princess, and Obie (OB), birth name Oscar Bryan...
I would call myself OB too. What the two characters have in common is: no motherly love!
This is raw, nitty-gritty, entertaining, and Ebonics is the middle name of this book! It is for the Hip Hop Era, new style of writing and format, that can reel you in to keep reading or scare you off from your normal novel. What makes it clever, I think of the classic black writers like Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, and many others who wrote out of the norm (to captivate and grab your attention). Moreover, you cannot classify a particular genre for this book. If I had to come up with something as a reviewer, it would be Lyrical Fiction or Hip Hop Monologue turns Fiction.
Brooklyn Darkchild is a literary wunderkind--L'il Kim-Dr Ruth-Ann Landers-Donna Summer all rolled into one. She is also a disciple of Truth In Advertising, as her novel This Ain't No Hearts and Flowers Love Story Pt 1 is exactly what the title professes it to be. The story, written in something resembling a long, narrative poem, is laden with gritty drama, and tempered with humor and life lessons that will leave readers wondering why Darkchild's work isn't placed in bookstores next to more widely known authors.
The story centers on cousins Obie and Princess, one of whom struggles on the streets of New York and the other raised within the confines of luxury. Both have been exposed to drugs and aberrant sexual behavior, but more important they are bonded by the fact neither has a mother whom they can turn to for affection or advice. Rather than making them cynical, it forces them to grow up quickly and fuels their drive to become stars in the entertainment industry. It is the older Obie who gets there first, but Cess has all the determination of Louretta Hawkins, the lead character in Kisristin Lattany's classic, The Soul Brothers and Sister Lou.
Through Obie's eyes, we watch Princess blossom into womanhood, and like Obie, we too, fall in love with her. After sexually charged denials, the two slowly evolve into lovers, and we get both sides of the story. It's balanced, not a pity party deal, as Darkchild shows off her firm grip on the subtleties and intricacies of love (and lust, for that matter). She paints in vivid strokes the psychodrama that takes place not only between OB and Cess, but even the bit players-including Cess's obsessed suitor Einstein, and bisexual uncles and onlookers.
OB and Cess's love is tested by outsiders--including a haunting by the ghost of a one-night stand and a violent attacker. The book ends with the promise of a sequel already penned, available online (author's note: here on this website).
One of the things I liked about the characters is they are written as introspective without drowning the reader in narrative. We always understand the motivation behind the characters' dreams and actions. In the end this becomes not just a tale of love, but a coming of age story.
So much of the black literature market fails to address the coming of age genre. This book nails it, and also conveys the message that candy and flowers are one thing, but love borne through a common struggle, and that simmers, is wondrous all by itself,
Baby Girl is born into depravity, but soon escapes it as her family relocates to Park Avenue, land of opportunity for the rich and ridiculously wealthy. Her uncle, BB - who is really her father's lover - takes them in, allowing them to become accustomed to a lifestyle millions of others can only dream of. She soon becomes "Princess," and her life of privilege more than lives up to the moniker.
Oscar Bryan, affectionately known as "OB," is also born into depravity - but escape is never an option for him. That is, not until he's discovered dancing on a New York corner one day - the day that changes the rest of his life forever. Soon, OB makes his come-up in the world - including sleeping with more women than most men ever see - but along the way he never forgets the special bond he has with a certain privileged Princess who knows just how it is to be loved by everyone except your own mother.
See, though Princess and OB are technically half-cousins, their true connection is a much deeper, much more spiritual bond that is rarely found and even more rarely understood. It is precisely this bond that anchors both young souls as they venture out into a crazy, volatile world marked by violence, corruption, addiction, and betrayal, and it is just such a bond that unites them for life - even to the point of creating a new life from its own.
This Ain't No Hearts And Flowers Love Story is an enjoyable read, filled with witticisms and turns of phrase that keep the story moving and reveal more and more of each richly depicted character along the way. Though the book comes in at just under 500 pages, Darkchild's lyrical writing style makes for a refreshing read, somewhat deflating the prospect of a daunting, drawn-out tale.
As the title states, this book is certainly not for anyone seeking a love story laced with dashing heroes, wistful heroines, and rose-colored lifestyles - but that's not always a bad thing.
Reviewed by Dr. Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (2/08)
"This Ain't No Hearts and Flowers Love Story" is a witty, sarcastic, humorous story written in Ebonics by the author Brooklyn Darkchild. Although the underlying theme of abandonment, junkies, drugs, failure and success are not an original theme, the way it is written is unique and captures your attention.
The author introduces us to OB (real name Oscar) and BG (baby girl) later named Princess who are in all rights cousins. OB is born to parents of white and half-white ethnicity, born on the wrong side of the tracks, while BG is born to African-American parents who are quite wealthy. The author has OB and BG take the usual stereotypical route that most children of junkies take--drugs, wild sex, living on the street and failures. Through his own determination OB was able to become a sensational dancer that would eventually lead him to stardom. Little did OB and BG know that later in life, almost twenty years later, they would [spoiler deleted by author].
Initially I was a little leery about reading this book due to the Ebonics, however, after about three paragraphs I was hooked. The author's description of the characters, and environment were so vivid that I felt like I was right there with them. I could just imagine the body language, vocabulary and behaviors of individuals in the storyline.
There were only two things I did not like about the book. I could not find any bio on the author and I felt that the back cover of the book too hard to read due to the dark colors. Darkchild's book, "This Ain't No Hearts and Flowers Love Story," made me laugh, cry and generally realize what it is like to virtually have to fight for your life against many odds.
Brooklyn, thanks for joining us for this interview. We look forward to learning more about your book. How long did it take you to put the full story together?
>>It took a little over a year to write the rough draft, and another eighteen months to get it the way I wanted it.
You include very strong depictions of "the hard life" in the book. Are these based on any personal experiences you've had?
>>You know people ask me that all the time??? I think it's because I grew up a motherless child. I will say this is definitely NOT an autobiographical novel. Some of this stuff happened to me, some things happened to people I love and some things I just made up. I'm not specifying, though.
The characters also embody varying opinions of homosexuality. Are any of these colored by your own personal opinion?
>>My personal opinions figure prominently but the last thing on my mind was telling a one sided story. Black life is full of controversy, and so is Gay life. I wanted to portray gay people with dignity and respect, something they don't get a lot of in this world. I also wanted to shine a light on some of the detrimental attitudes they have to deal with every day, and the internal conflict some of them face. I believe God loves us ALL, no matter what, and Jesus DIED for us all, no matter what. Yes, homosexuality is a sin, but so is fornication, and how many of us are guilty of that? We all have things to work on; sins to be forgiven of. The Bible says we're to work out our OWN soul salvation with "fear and trembling." I can't "fear and tremble" for anyone other than myself; neither can you. I also can't beat "fear and trembling" into another person by haranguing about their lifestyle choices: that is between them and God. In the meantime all I can do is: love my neighbor as I love myself, and pray for them. God knows I hope they're praying for me, cause I need it.
Many stories hail the ups and downs of New York living, but yours does so in a very colorful, lively fashion. What inspired you to use this particular manner of storytelling?
>>The idea of telling a relationship story from a male and female perspective intrigued me but I didn't know where to start or how to make it work in a third person narrative. Then one day I heard Obie's voice in my head say: My real name is Oscar. Oscar Bryan. Sounds like Oscar Mayer doesn't it? I realized I wanted the narrative to sound natural, like a conversation with a good friend.
Without revealing too much of the ending, do the ultimate fates of both Princess and OB develop naturally? In other words, is it something both of them should have expected?
>>Should they have expected it? I think so. But hindsight is always 20/20. I like to believe the relationship traveled along the path it was intended to all along: some things are meant to be and some things simply aren't.
Please share more about your company, Brooklyn Dreams Publishing, with our readers.
>>Brooklyn Dreams seeks to tell street tales with an intelligent twist. All our tales will be grimy, reflecting lfe in the "trenches," like This Ain't No..., but they'll also be inspirational. We want to show that no matter what you go through, and people go THROUGH some thangs, you're never so far gone that you can't be saved.
What are your future writing aspirations?
>>Every writer wants to sell books, Darkchild included, but more than that I want to change people's lives. There are two more parts to the Obie and Princess saga, already written, that will touch on AIDS and molestation to name a few issues. There's a series coming up about two Boricuas who grew up on Adelphi St in Brooklyn, and some day I'd LOVE to tackle The Fabulous BB Johnson's life story.
Any final thoughts you'd like to share with our readers?
>>Buy the book. You'll laugh 'til you have to change clothes, cry up three boxes of Kleenex, but in the end...
Oh crap, I can't give that away now can I???
Thanks again, Brooklyn, and best of continued success to you in all your endeavors!
"This Ain’t No Hearts and Flowers Love Story" is a great title. It’s intriguing and yet seems to taunt a reader’s desire to have a happy ending. The reader is interested to see if the title remains true to its word...Your language choices are fascinating. I love the matter-of-fact dialogue and dialect that gives the character a true voice and individuality...the dialogue is great because it gives the reader a sense of the character...I think that your use of slang and conversational phrasings is a delight for a reader. And I also think that it’s crucial to the story...I think that you have done a lot of interesting things with your formatting—the line by line styling instead of paragraphs. I like the idea that this is more of a ‘poem’ rather than a story to me. It speaks of anger and reality in a very beautiful format...This is a tremendous piece of work...it has a delicious flavor to it that makes it stand apart from others in its genre.
I think that you have captured the hearts and the souls and the yearnings of Obie and Princess and made them into complex and realistic characters.