Published by Penguin Publishing Group on 2016-04
Genres: African American Romance
New York Times bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey delivers his next delectable, erotic romance They call themselves the Blackbirds. Kwanzaa Browne, Indigo Abdulrahaman, Destiny Jones, and Ericka Stockwell are four best friends who are closer than sisters, and will go to the ends of the earth for one another. Yet even their deep bond can't heal all wounds from their individual pasts, as the collegiate and post-collegiate women struggle with their own demons, drama, and desires. Trying to forget her cheating ex-fiancé, Kwanzaa becomes entangled with a wicked one-night stand--a man who turns out to be one in five million. Indigo is in an endless on-again, off-again relationship with her footballer boyfriend, and in her time between dysfunctional relationships she purses other naughty desires. Destiny, readjusting to normal life, struggles to control her own anger after avenging a deep wrong landed her in juvi, while at the same time trying to have her first real relationship--one she has initiated using an alias to hide her past from her lover. Divorced Ericka is in remission from cancer and trying to deal with two decades of animosity with her radical mother, while keeping the desperate crush she has always had on Destiny's father a secret... a passion with an older man that just may be reciprocated. As the women try to overcome-- or give into-- their impulses, they find not only themselves tested, but the one thing they always considered unbreakable: their friendship.
It’s always a pleasure to be reviewing a book by Eric Jerome Dickey– an ARC, no less! I received a copy of The Blackbirds courtesy Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for this honest review.
I have selfish reasons for wanting to read this book, namely because I adore EJD’s writing and because he’s been writing espionage and spy thrillers and erotica for so many years and finally, he returned to these deeply personal stories, deeply personable characters, vividly descriptive tales with One Night and I gobbled that one up. The Blackbirds seemed like a story I would enjoy as well, a sisterhood of four women who swear by their bond.
The story seems to circulate around birthdays… each of the Blackbirds celebrates a birthday in the book. On that day, the rest of the girls have to do whatever birthday girl wants to do. At one such birthday, the girls decided they needed a better name for their group. They began calling themselves The Blackbirds, from the song ‘Blackbird’ by Nina Simone. “Always build each other up. No crabs in a barrel, never pull each other down.”
The Blackbirds have unspoken, unwritten rules about each other, about protecting each other. No one suffers alone…but even in this tightly knit group of friends, of women who know each other inside and out, they’re able to keep secrets from each other, to have individual experiences that don’t have to be shared with three other people.
My very most favorite part of this book is the frank, hilarious, epic insults throughout, specifically from Indigo, a Nigerian with a tongue so sharp she could split you in half with a word. At one point, she’s giving her on again off again boyfriend pure hell. I think she called him a ‘whole ass, imbecilic goat’. I must have laughed for… I don’t even know how long. The way the girls taunt and tease each other like sisters, like calling each other “Weave-rella “and “Slave Name Jones”, the Blackbirds pull no punches with each other… but if you come for one of them, you come for them all.
Eric Jerome Dickey has always been a detailed, decadent writer. From one of the first books I ever read by him, Friends and Lovers, I appreciated that I felt like I was ‘in the scene’, like I could go to LA and drive around, because he’d been so descriptive, down to the number of streetlights one might encounter on Crenshaw Boulevard. So when one sits down to read an EJD book, one should not expect to skip and flit over details.
I feel, though, that one of the drawbacks to The Blackbirds is the length of many of the scenes, particularly the sex scenes. The conversations….they just go on and on and on. I wanted to skim but dared not in case I miss a nugget of something that matters, but I felt… weighted down by so much detail. The characters in EJD books have long, deep conversations. They have detailed, repetitive sexual experiences. Sometimes I read a book and think it could be just as good if it were half as long.
Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I do love a big, thick book and The Blackbirds was a stunning read by one of our most beloved black fiction writers. I was excited to be given the chance to read it for review, and if you’ve been holding off on Dickey because you didn’t like the Gideon series…. He’s baaaaaack.