In the Hype Williams directed film Belly, the gritty drug fueled urban drama featured a scene in which the lead character (played by Rapper Nas) had a conversation with a twelve year old boy that would’ve led many to believe was someone at least 15 years his senior. “Shorty was twelve going on twenty,” the rapper went on to narrate in the scene. I could not help but allow that scene to ruminate in my mind while reading Sister Souljah’s new literary effort, A Deeper Love Inside: The Porsche Santiaga Story. The book parallels so many aspects of every crime-laden, urban drama, yet it manages to be so categorically different as well.
The main character in the novel, Porsche Santiaga, narrates in first person from the age of eight to sixteen. In the span of eight short years, her voice holds an air of maturity that is so aged; it is far-fetched. For this very reason, Sister Souljah challenges the reader to question whether or not we are prejudiced to the fact that children all over the world are subjected to situations that drastically mature them and require that rapid mental age progression. My thoughts kept returning to that aforementioned scene in the film Belly. In essence, it just further lent to the notion that when ones environment requires, the mind can rapidly outgrow the body.
A Deeper Love Inside is intended to be the answer to Souljah’s literary classic, The Coldest Winter Ever; where the main character of that novel was the exemplary “product of her harsh environment” and all of her manipulative behaviors were recounted, her little sister Porsche proves to be the exception.
Although it is meant to be a sequel, which would require us to navigate throughWinter’s vengeful mind, we pick up where the story left off 14 years ago in the eyes of an abandoned eight-year-old Porsche. The product of a beautiful urban queen and a handsome drug lord in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn, New York, the four daughters of the urban power couple were used to being in the lap of luxury. Upon his eventual capture and arrest, this eventually leads Winter to the state penitentiary, Porsche in the cruel hands of the foster care system and a stint in a juvenile detention center; her twin baby sisters whereabouts were unbeknownst to her.
During this gripping portion of the novel, I applaud Sister Souljah for staying true to her ‘first person’ style of writing, due to the fact that it can allow us to see that Porsche, although strong in several aspects, is still a fragile little girl, ironically enough.
In the story, Porsche endures horrible circumstances, engages in many adventures, interacts with some of our favorite characters from Souljah’s previous works (Midnight!) and meets some very interesting individuals. The author also courageously shines a light on the ever-taboo topic of mental health in the black community, especially among children. One person of particular interest in the novel is her best friend, Suri. For the sake of “spoiler alerts,” I will just say that Suri serves as a measure of Porsche’s mental state. The unbelievably agile, wise and resilient young girl becomes a heroine through her show of vulnerability and invincibility.
Although the story’s premise differs from that of its predecessors The Coldest Winter Ever and the Midnight series, they all show signs of Souljah’s signature immature and jargon riddled prose to reflect the persona of its narrator. However, it still manages to takes us through the mean streets of Brooklyn without diluting it with too many details, or cheapening the experience with descriptions drenched in slang.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this to all those that had vested interest in the characters as I do, and had as many unanswered questions as I did for the last decade. This is also for anyone that wants to step outside of their comfort zone and discover their inner child, as well as their abundance of wisdom.
**Connect with Sister Souljah’s literary works here: www.sistersouljah.com.