Souljah, Sister. (1999). The Coldest Winter Ever. Pocket Books.
As Dr. Tania Nadeem points out in her review of The Coldest Winter Ever, “once you get over your unease with this unfamiliar way of life…you realize that this book, in its own way, is a touching coming-of-age story about a misguided adolescent who has taken up money, beauty and power as her identity.” Common topics in this novel include drug dealing, drug addiction, teen drinking, casual sex, and murder. The variety of content that may be deemed inappropriate is extensive and layered throughout the entirety of the novel. However, the issues that are dealt with in The Coldest Winter Ever are very real issues that many children, adolescents, and adults deal with on a daily basis, and sweeping them under the rug will not erase them.
Winter deals with quite a few issues that many adolescents are familiar with; she wants to be with her family, she isn’t sure if she can trust her friends, she is exploring her sexuality in a time when hormones are raging, and there is a disconnect between the lifestyle she wants and what she can reasonably attain. There are also quite a few issues that adolescents may not have encountered; extensive drug use and drug dealing, casual sex, the use of guns and razors as weapons, having parents in prison. Winter and her friends act as many other adolescents at this age, as if there are no consequences for their actions:
“If I wasn’t pregnant,” Simone said, “I’d have your back. But I gotta look out for this one here,” pointing to her belly. Me and Simone stayed up drinking the rest of the night.(pg. 161)
The consequences for actions like this, such as drinking while pregnant, become apparent throughout the end of the story, when Simone loses her baby and Winter ends up in jail for her relationship with Bullet. Winter’s life does not turn out as she expected, and it is likely that adolescents will see this story as a cautionary tale, rather than a “how-to” guide.
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Nadeem, T. (2010). “The coldest winter ever” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(1), accessed through Wilson Web Book Reviews Digest Plus.
Souljah, S. (1999). The Coldest Winter Ever. New York, NY: Pocket Books.