Suggested One Read: The Coldest Winter Ever

Book cover for The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister SouljahWith her debut novel “The Coldest Winter Ever,” first published in 1999, hip-hop artist and activist Sister Souljah spawned the new genre of urban fiction. Gritty, realistic and often raw, these works typically feature African-American main characters in a contemporary setting and deal with relationships, violence and street life. In this groundbreaking book, Santiaga, the daughter of one of Brooklyn’s most powerful drug kingpins, uses her own weapons – including sex and an aggressive attitude – to stay on top after her father’s empire is threatened by a drug war.

Our nominator describes this novel as “one of the first works of African-American fiction incorporating love, real struggles, crime and morality.” This reader believes it would make a great community read because “it sends subliminal messages of worth while lighting the flame to seek knowledge through one girl’s story. I loved and hated the characters, yet I can see how all races can grow to understand how to educate and relate to the young, urban African-Americans in our communities through her novels, thus seeing [these young people] as an asset and not a liability.”

Read about other books nominated for One Read 2014.