Reviewing an oldie but goodie today. Enjoy!
Review for "Imani All Mine" by Connie Porter (2000) Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Let me start off by saying that this book had me in tears. Big, watery, and unapologetic. Whew…
“Imani All Mine” is the story of 15-year-old Tasha, a teenager living with her single mother in upstate New York. At the beginning of the novel, she has already given birth to a daughter whom she names Imani, based on “some African language” that means ‘faith.’ Tasha loves her daughter dearly and speaks about her daughter as any new mother would, yet her worldview remains very much that of a 15-year-old girl. Tasha’s dialect and the language throughout the novel is nonstandard English (words like ‘nam’ for “them”) and very much consistent with that perspective. We later learn through flashbacks that her daughter’s existence is the result of a violent rape at the hands of a stranger. Ashamed, Tasha tells no one of her assault and hides her pregnancy from everyone, including her mother.
Despite this, as well as the obstacles of poverty, an impoverished neighborhood, and her physically and emotionally abusive mother, Tasha makes strides and manages to go to school and be a good mother to her daughter. Much of the book is simply Tasha’s observations of the life of a typical teenager–boys, family members, people in the neighborhood, people at school. Tasha defies common stereotypes of teenage single mothers of color by having a strong will and vision for her future.
I loved reading this book. There was never a moment when I didn’t understand Tasha and her love for her child, her struggle, and her motives. I definitely recommend this.
A word of caution: this isn’t YA. Although the language makes it super-accessible, I would only give this book to teens if they were super mature. This is definitely an adult read with a child protagonist.
One thought on “Review: Imani All Mine”
I read this book a while back and it’s definitely stayed with me. You’re right, it’s very sad, especially the ending. I didn’t see the final tragedy coming, I got to the last few chapters and I was like “You have got to be fucking kidding me!” It was still a very good book, the only thing I wasn’t crazy about was how it got kind of religious at the end. Great review! 🙂