Second to None
By Ju Ephraime
Genre: Fiction/African American/Historical/Coming of Age
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review, this is the second of Ms. Euphraime’s books I have reviewed; the first was The Complaisant Lover, you can view that review here.
Courtney and Sydney are twins, the product of a loving interracial marriage. But, each is as different in personality and temperament as they are in looks and Courtney longs for the day when she can finally be free of Sydney’s shadow.
Courtney is easy to relate to on many levels. She’s intelligent, resourceful and very level headed, until she gets angry…but hey, that’s human isn’t it? Then we have her sister Sydney, who is most definitely a self-centered attention hound who simply won’t allow Courtney to have anything for herself. Not clothes, their parents attention or friends.
Who can blame Courtney for wanting to leave and have something for herself finally? It’s just a shame that she has to leave everything and everyone she knows behind to do it. And, wanting to leave is one thing, but can she convince her parents to let her do it? She has plan. She wants to travel and see the world while she decides if she wants to go to college and she has the skills to do it. Working her way through Europe as a teacher’s assistant/governess could be the ticket to finding herself, her freedom and…James.
Overall, I really enjoyed this coming of age story and that is what I would call it, coming of age. This leads me to one of the two little issues I had with this story. It is billed as “Historical”, but it’s not really historical at all. I’ll explain. The Prologue states that this story begins in 1946 and the Part 1 header refers to the years 1950-1954, so this story runs through approximately 1946 through 1954 and that would certainly qualify time-wise as “historical”, so it could fit historically within that time-frame. And there was quite a bit historically going on during that time that would certainly affect a mixed race family. But speaking objectively as a reader, if I were to remove the two instances where those dates appear, there honestly isn’t anything that would lead me to this particular time….and the cover for the book doesn’t fit either; it says the story inside is “contemporary”.
Still, this is a very well -crafted story of a young woman finding her own place in this world. I just would have liked more scene setting to understand what the world Courtney was living in was like. I rooted for her as she faced her challenges with her students; and, I too, wanted to let that stiff upper-crust British family have it verbally, as I’m sure Courtney did. I definitely took the ride with her feeling how she felt…I just couldn’t envision her world with her.
My only other constructive criticism is right at the end of the book. Throughout the entire book the story is told from Courtney’s perspective and suddenly we head-hop right at the end into James’s head? That totally broke the continuity of the story for me (I’m sorry Ms. Euphraime…but it did).
Still, my two criticisms are things that may not bother anyone but me. I still rate this story at 3.5 stars because I really did like it. It would get another half star from me if a few issues were addressed.
Oh, and before I forget! For those of you looking for stories that do not contain profanity or gratuitous sex scenes, check this one out! Ms. Euphraime has written a story that I believe is really up your alley. It’s easy to read, it flows well and you’ll like her characters as well. Pick up a copy and let me know what you think as well.