For most of your life, you’ve messed with the style of your hair. Braids or twists? Cornrows or dreds? Blonde or gray? Long or short? Relaxed or not? Little girl ponytails or big-girl weaves, until you eventually decide that you’re tired of fighting. You’re going to let God and your hair win. You’re going natural, at least for awhile.
After all, natural is a style, right?
In the new novel “A Natural Woman” by Lori Johnson, a sistah learns that her hairdresser is her best friend, in more ways than one.
All Aliesha Eaton wanted the day she walked into the barber shop was a trim. She understood that a woman in what amounted to a men’s club was going to get some hassle, but she never expected what she got.
The older men at the barber shop were busy, so they turned her over to the brother at the last chair. Aliesha almost didn’t see him; he was reading when she walked in but she noticed him plenty when he stood up. Dante was fine-looking and his hands were even better. He gave Aliesha a subtle new style that fit her natural hair just right.
So why didn’t Javiel notice? Aliesha was waiting for him to say something, and when he didn’t, she took it as one more reason they weren’t right for one another. She knew he loved her and she tried to love him back, but things just weren’t working out between them.
And maybe the reason was Kenneth. Despite that Kenneth had almost accidentally (or so he said) killed Aliesha, she could never go back to the way things were with him, even though he apologized a dozen times. At 6-4, Kenneth took Aliesha’s breath away, but she could never trust him again.
And her mind kept going back to the barber’s hands and the man connected to them…
But Dante had his own drama. A long time ago, he and his cousin were abandoned on the doorstep of their aunt, a woman they lovingly called Big Mama. But throughout their childhood, Dante had been pushed down a path that should’ve been Reuben’s, and vice versa. And that included the woman that Dante wanted.
“A Natural Woman” is a little like an octopus: there are eight different side-plots going on at any one time, and it’s hard to figure out which arm is going to stick enough to pull you into the story. In other words, it’s a little much.
Still, it was good. I could have stood a bit less verbosity, but I liked this book well enough. Nothing earth-shattering, but a nice diversion for a cold winter’s evening.
I think, if you’re in the mood for a story with a little drama, a little humor, and a little steam, this one will fill the bill. For you, “A Natural Woman” is just your style.
(“A Natural Woman” by Lori Johnson, c.2009, Dafina Books, $15/$17.95 paperback, 384 pages.)
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