I know I know, this title will make most of you folks run away thinking *did I just read ‘Book’?! I thought it was about what’s on TV?*, but hey, allow me to do my thing, will you? So… Hello to those who managed to reach this second sentence.
I’m going to do something that’s never been done here before – write about a book. Anyway, the book is called “Building Dominoes” and was written by Becky Coelho in 2009. Before we start talking about the book itself, let’s talk a bit about the author, shall we?! Ms. Coelho writes about everyday life and situations, including friendship, love and family. Her stories generally fit in the present or the past or both. Right, give Becky [(’s) hair] a rest, concentrate on the 697 pages. Yes, I wrote “697 pages”. Quite long, innit?! And when you read on the front page “A story of Friendship, Forbidden Love, Deceit, Mystery & Family”, you’re not particularly keen to start that long journey. I wasn’t, as I thought *Ugh! Please not another off-putting romance novel*, but in the end I managed to read it all. Right, ENOUGH! Let’s get it started once and for all!
“Building Dominoes” is about Sarah Miller, a naive white country girl, and Anton Reynolds, a Black smart kid from East St. Louis. Sarah and Anton met in 1970 after enrolling at John Marshall College. They became friends then lovers. The love they felt for each other was a forbidden one. Y’all know the racial prejudices of the 1970’s in the United States of America so I won’t feed you guys with details on why their love was a forbidden one. What I’m going to say now though, is going to sound damn creepy but I don’t know how to better put things. Sarah’s luck and wealth came from Cindy Williams’ suicide (her friend and university roommate). Indeed, Cindy’s will stipulated that everything she had would be given to Sarah, and this was huge and included money, properties, stocks and shares. This enabled Sarah and Anton to plan and build their lifetime project – The Cindy Williams Educational Centre (CWEC) – after eventually getting married. From now you’re all thinking *they lived a happy life and had loads of kids*. Well they did have loads of kids – 2 guys and 2 girls – and they did live a happy life for 30 years or so before tragedies invited themselves in bulk. Anton was mysteriously shot one morning while he was jogging. Anton and Sarah’s youngest son met a psycho bitch for his first sexual experience that contaminated him with AIDS. That same son shortly came out as being gay.
Oh and you wouldn’t believe what happened to our lovely widow. Well she got married with her late husband’s youngest brother – Andre. Apparently, the guy has always loved her. They too, had their moments of happiness and both their families (that is Sarah’s children, children-in-laws and Andre’s ones) formed a unified single block. Then again, tragedies invited themselves in. The psycho bitch I mentioned before wanted to get her revenge after she was sent to jail for what she did to Sarah’s son. She put a fire at his place that killed him. Sarah went crazy a bit and spent some time in a mental clinic after attempting suicide. Andre’s son-in-law got killed as well. That’s the mystery bit of the book. There was definitely a link between Anton and Andre’s son-in-law assassinations; and anyone who got near that link was simply eliminated. You wouldn’t believe how daft and mad people can be because of love. Y’all guess these mysteries’ resolutions constitute “Building Dominoes” ending point. That and Sarah’s third marriage. Blimey, the woman can’t just be single! I’m not going tell you who did what, get yourselves the book!
Here comes my evaluation!!!
“Building Dominoes” story might be perceived as way too common but it’s nonetheless an interesting book. Indeed, the book not only gives an account of the triumphs and tragedies of the racial prejudices of the 1970’s, but also brings in the preoccupations of today’s world concerning interracial marriages, coming out and letting the family and community know. I very much enjoyed reading this book. The story was well organised and generally well written. And did I mention there are strong sexual contents?! No, I didn’t. Right, there are strong sexual contents which are part of the book assets. I was really surprised (in a good way) by the kind of things some characters would try sexually, especially Sarah. It was quite interesting to find out that a book talking about such serious matters could find a way to relax a bit by allowing its characters to be sexually open. Definitely loved it! If you ever thought that, passed the age of 50, a woman is sexually dead, after reading this book, you are more likely to drop that idea. If you don’t, then you’re living an illusion. Of course there was that politically conscious line drawn in between ‘making love’ and ‘having sex’ but I really didn’t mind at all. If that suits you to think there’s a difference between these two concepts, well, fair enough!
However, for a book that is 697 pages long, there aren’t enough details about the different temporal frameworks. You can therefore easily get lost. They only mentioned few years in the book: 1970, 1972, 1975, 1977 and 1984. As for the rest, you’d be like *OK! They said it was some days before the School’s 25th anniversary. The school was created in 1977 so this should be 2002*. The good thing is, I’m a details maniac and I have a great memory (No, false modesty isn’t really my thing so if you think I’m showing off, well yes I’m showing off so please move on) but this can appear fastidious to most readers. It is not pleasant at all to go back again and again through the pages just to know where you are now. Just feed reada dem wid easy details Becky, just feed reada dem! You’d also get lost by the number of characters in the book – way too much given that some of them are utterly UNIMPORTANT. The list is unbelievably long: Sarah and Anton’s parents, siblings, children, grand-children, various cousins and in-laws and friends; not to mention the school staff, medical staff, policemen, hit men etc…Right, I’m fed up! You’d have to read the book to find out the rest of the list. Double also, the story’s main mystery isn’t really a mystery. Just look at the cover picture and you’ll get a clue. After reading 60% of the book (even less), I thought *It’s pretty clear to everyone now, just cut whole thing off and end this book*.
I felt like the coming out problematic in a black/mixed race family/community was just lightly treated given that it was to be one of the book’s main highlights. I wanted to believe in acceptance and stuff but it was way to pinkie to be a fair representation of the reality. Beside, the main character representing that issue was rapidly ‘kicked out’ of the book. Therefore, I believe this theme wasn’t fully grasped by readers.
A fairly good piece of reading anyway: 6.75/10. I will definitely recommend “Building Dominoes” to those who are passionately interested in history, culture and identities within popular literature. In this book you have it all: race and identity struggles and history in America along with cultural integration/acceptance.
There you have it. My “Building Dominoes” review. If you read it already then let me know what you thought of it. If you haven’t, then buy the book. The digital version is only worth £6.90.
Oh well, I think I said it all. Likkle more!