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June 29, 2017

2 African American Coming-of-Age Stories from Nadine C. Keels

by MK French

Nadine. A French name, meaning, “hope.” With her lifelong passion for life-enriching fiction, Nadine C. Keels enjoys reading and writing everything from short stories to novels. Her fiction works include Love Unfeigned and The Movement of Crowns Series, and select pieces of her lyrical poetry can be found on her spoken word album, Hope. Lyricized. As the founder of Prismatic Prospects, her communication company, Nadine has served as editor for a number of titles, and through her writing, from her books to her blog posts, she aims to help spark hope, inspiration, and genius in as many as she is privileged to reach.

I've had the opportunity to review two of Nadine's stories. One is a full-length novel and the other is a novella. If you are looking to add some diversity to your reading pile, then check out these books.
Amazon affiliate links are used in this post. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Yella's Prayers by Nadine Keels

Yella's Prayers
April 2010; 978-1542844222; ebook, print (476 pages)
Christian fiction
Bless has always talked to God and hidden her passion for music because of her social anxiety. Her sister Daena constantly tries to get her out and be social in places besides the community center their family runs, particularly with T'Meal or Lamall. T'Meal is a gifted athlete that turned down the opportunity for sports scholarships, and Lamall is a playboy hiding his home life. She's sure that God wants her to help these men, but the only way she knows how to do that is to pray.

The book starts off very drawn out, taking its time with the routines of day to day life. We see Bless at home with her family, with T'Meal and Lamall, and the prayers she has for God. It takes a while for events to really start moving, and at that point, we're emotionally invested in finding out what happens next.

There are many moments where the characters are touched by tragedy or poor choices, and they're situations that a lot of teens would have to deal with in real life. Nadine Keels also injects hope into the story, because they're able to come back from the brink when so many others in real life haven't.

This is a coming of age story, as Bless and T'Meal really grow and change a lot by the end of the book. Lamall at least is on his way to a better place emotionally, even if he does have a long way left to go.

Buy Yella's Prayers at Amazon

World of the Innocent by Nadine Keels

World of the Innocent
May 2017; 978-1546398684; ebook, print (106 pages)
Christian fiction
Jhoi is a poet in college that is emotionally guarded, religious and self-conscious. Marcas is another artist, producing music tracks in a friend's studio, and has fans both of his music and his appearance. They're both strange in different ways, and Jhoi's friendship with an elderly neighbor prompts her to take a chance with her emotions and broaden their friendship into something more.

This is novella length at 108 pages, but it still feels pretty heavy emotionally.

Jhoi and Marcas have a friendship that deepens over time, turning into a more romantic kind of love. It isn't the soul-searing passion that most romances deal with, but the slow evolution and realization that this other person is The One. They share inside jokes and common interests, some friends and the feeling that others don't understand them. They both are concerned with their emotional and spiritual lives, as well as the honesty of their art.

Possibly because of its short length, I didn't have a good sense of the amount of time passing in the book. It also ended rather abruptly, though it explained the opening really well.

Buy World of Innocent at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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