Title: Orange Mint and Honey
Author: Carleen Brice
Release Date: February 12, 2008
Publisher: One World/Ballantine
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit
Rating: 4 out of 5
From the back cover:
Broke and burned-out from grad school, Shay Dixon does the unthinkable after receiving a “vision” from her de facto spiritual adviser, blues singer Nina Simone. She phones Nona, the mother she had all but written off, asking if she can come home for a while.
When Shay was growing up, Nona was either drunk, hungover, or out with her latest low-life guy. So Shay barely recognizes the new Nona, now sober and with a positive outlook on life, a love of gardening, and a toddler named Sunny. Though reconciliation seems a hard proposition for Shay, something unmistakable is taking root inside her, waiting to blossom like the morning glories opening up in Nona’s garden sanctuary.
Soon Shay finds herself facing exciting possibilities and even her first real romantic relationship. But when an unexpected crisis hits, even the wise words and soulful melodies of Nina Simone may not be enough for solace. Shay begins to realize that, like orange mint and honey, sometimes life tastes better when bitter is followed by sweet.
I’d heard good things about Orange Mint and Honey, so when the 24 Hour Read-A-Thon came around I decided that this would be a good book to tackle. It was perfect for the occasion; light, yet very gripping.
Shay is a well-written character; she was obviously very emotionally damaged by her mother’s severe alcoholism and hasn’t been able to get past that, even into adulthood. In a lot of ways, she is emotionally crippled; she can’t bring herself to trust anyone because in her heart, she believes they will end up letting her down. The growth she exhibits over the course of the Orange Mint and Honey is admirable and very well-crafted.
The issues raised by Orange Mint and Honey were very thought provoking. I found Shay’s problems with her mother very interesting. It really brings up the topic of forgiveness – how can Shay even begin to forgive Nona for all the hurts she caused, for abandoning her for days at a time, for never taking care of her, for leaving Shay to fend for herself? I honestly can’t conceive of how much strength it would take to cope with something like that, never mind find it in yourself to forgive someone for inflicting that on you.
I also thought the discussion of trichotillomania, or Shay’s compulsive hair pulling, was very interesting. Disorders that are spurred by anxiety or emotional stress are difficult for me to comprehend. Brice writes about it in a way that is easy to sympathize with; she tries to make the reader understand why Shay pulls out her hair and what need it satisfies.
I found Orange Mint and Honey to be a very satisfying read. I definitely recommend it to any fans of chick lit or women’s fiction, as well as to fans of interracial fiction, as Shay deals with some issues unique to being a black woman. It definitely doesn’t disappoint!