Lyah Beth LeFlore has a few notches on her belt. She’s written three books before this one, including a very intimate telling penned by the late Gerald Levert and his father, Eddie Levert (I Got Your Back). She’s also written Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, and now brings to you a story with a cozy, family feel.
Wildflowers is the story of a family of women who are strewn and torn separately but together they are inseparable. A gang of sisters, aunts, cousins, daughters, etc. are all kept together by a love for their family and one another.There’s an abused Hollywood publicist, a stay-at-mom trying to break free of her Stepford ways, a crackhead cousin, etc.
Be warned: If you’re not into what some consider “hood novels”, the first chapter (and one of the characters) will throw you. There was some foul language, abuse, and pregnancy that turned me off, but once I got into the story I understood why LeFlore chose to speak for some characters the way she did. There was a contrast in education, social status, etc. that needed to be made clear.
Here’s an excerpt:
A BIBLE AND A GUN
My hands were as steady as a surgeon’s, precise and meticulous as I flipped out the chamber of my Ladysmith.
Sweat poured down my trembling body, soaking through my cotton nightgown and terry-cloth robe. I felt as though I had just walked through hell’s fire, but had been yanked out by hand of the Lord and baptized in his blood all at once. I closed my eyes tightly, my thoughts battling the deafening throb, pounding between my ears. I could hear Mother’s words, “Don’t tell nobody everythin’. You gotta keep the devil guessin’!”
I’d owned this gun for almost three years and as many times as I’d practiced loading and unloading it I’d never actually shot the damn thing. I figured tonight is just as good as any to break it in. I grabbed a fistful of bullets from a small leather pouch, dumping them into a pile on the floor, and started to load them into the chamber one by one. My brain was running on fumes, but one thought was crystal clear: The devil has to go.
I know you shouldn’t question God, but this is one of those times I gotta make an exception. What happened, God? Was this a test and I failed? I wonder, if a God-fearing person has to make a decision to do something drastic, in this case taking another’s life to save two, does that still make it a sin? God, please forgive me, but there just ain’t no more time to keep contemplating the what- ifs, whys, and how comes. I have to do this for my unborn child.
I was jolted by the sound of a wooden chair scraping across the tiled kitchen floor, quickly followed by the loud cracking sound of splintering wood and shattering glass. My heart raced as I slipped the last bullet into the chamber and snapped it closed.
“You owe me money and I want out of this marriage!” His menacing, rage-filled voice echoed through the entire house.
“Stop breaking my things!” I screamed, cupping one hand over my ear.
No weapon that forms against me shall prosper . . .
“Chloe!” Every time he called my name it sent a shock wave throughout my entire body. “Get the [explicit] out here now! Do you hear me?” He slammed the hall closet door shut. “I used to have a good life!” His shouts faded in and out as he walked from room to room. “You ruined my [explicit] life!”
His expensive Italian loafers made a series of quick dull thuds on the carpet as he barreled down the hallway toward the back bedroom, where I had sought safety.
Clop . . . Clop . . . Clop . . .
His steps stopped just on the other side of the door. He liked expensive things, shoes especially. I had grown sickened by how he made it a point daily to advertise how much he paid for each pair he owned. It was his idea to sell all my large pieces of furniture. He said we were going to start our lives fresh together. The first thing he convinced me to do was clear out the guest bedroom.
He turned the entire room into his personal dressing room. Shoes, some never worn, housed in fancy shoe boxes, stacked in alphabetical order according to designer, lined the walls. I had never met a man who owned more pairs of shoes than I did.
Copyright © 2009 by Lyah Beth LeFlore
From the book Wildflowers, published by Broadway Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
The lives of these women are intricately woven together, and their stories are told in their many multihued voices. By turns humorous and hopeful, honest and poignant, with rippling boldness and crackling prose, WILDFLOWERS (Broadway Books; September 2009; Trade Paperback Original) by Lyah Beth LeFlore is a beautifully written novel that explores the richness and complexity of the love between mothers and daughters.
Lyah Beth LeFlore is the coauthor of Cosmopolitan Girls and author of the Essence bestseller Last Night a DJ Saved My Life and the national bestseller I Got Your Back: A Father and Son Keep It Real About Love, Fatherhood, Family, and Friendship, a collaboration with Grammy Award–winners Eddie and Gerald Levert. A former television producer, she has been featured in the New York Times, Essence, Ebony, Jet, and Entertainment Weekly, and has appeared on CNN and BET.
We’re giving away a few copies of this book, so write in and let us know your fondest family memories!