Rapper T.I. is now an author, and his debut is a coming of age novel about two teenagers. His inspiration? The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah (Pocket Books, 1999), the landmark Street Lit novel.
For more on T.I.’s writing process, inspiration and the difference between writing a book and writing music, take a look at this Huffington Post interview.
Co-author David Ritz is best known for collaborating on autobiographies with Ray Charles, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, the Neville Brothers, Janet Jackson — to name only a few.
Adult/High School–Power and Beauty are not biological siblings although they grew up as brother and sister sharing the same mother, who adopted Beauty. They are 16 when their mom dies in a fire. They comfort each other and then act on their sexual attraction. Soon after, they are estranged. Power goes off to be mentored by a hustler, Slim, in Miami, Chicago, and Atlanta. Included are many non-graphic sexual instances where Power can’t find enjoyment with women except while imagining Beauty’s face. The second half of the book focuses on Beauty’s life as she pursues success in the international fashion world. On the last page, they are about to be reunited, only for Power to be kidnapped in front of Beauty’s eyes. Readers who have made it this far may be invested enough to read the next book in order to find out what happens, but others will feel cheated by the ploy. Hot, raw, and gritty street lit it’s not. T.I., however, is hot in the hip-hop scene, and teens will be interested in this book simply because of his name. Fans of Denene Millner and Mitzi Miller’s “Hotlanta” series (Point) and Darrien Lee’s “Denim Diaries” series (Urban) might find this to be another book of interest, but it’s hard to believe that award-winning Ritz had anything to do with this book and its sluggish prose.–Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Juvenile Hall, CA