Address House of Corrections - Monice Mitchell Simms
Address: House of Corrections
Monice Mitchell Simms (2010)
Monice Mitchell Simms is a storyteller. I don't mean that to sound light or insignificant. In this near epic tale of a bright young girl from Jim Crow era Locust Grove, Georgia to her tumultuous teen years in the Motor City, Simms demonstrates such dexterity in her debut novel. Merry's tale opens with her life in the South living with her grandmother and her "selfish" younger brother. After, Merry makes an unthinkable sacrifice to save him, the looming consequences leave her grandmother no choice but to send her "up North" to the mother who abandoned her children. In Detroit, her life seems to be heading towards triumph as she's a successful student and bourgeoning pianist and singer. However, her demons get the best of her and she begins to console her not quite teenaged self with alcohol. Merry quickly finds herself on a downward spiral as a teen mom, dealing with addictions, and a hole in her soul she can't seem to fill. Right up to the bittersweet end, Merry never seems to lose her fight even though she fouls up quite a bit along her journey to self. Don't think that this is a typical, or stereotypical, tale of Black youth gone rogue. There are nuances to this novel not quite expected and while flawed, Merry remains endearing throughout. Every character, from the closeted gay male to the stifled preacher's daughter gone bad to the alluring bad boy, is well thought and fleshed out. Simms has written such a page turner that it's girth surprisingly never hits any lulls or feels overworked. This debut is also the promising beginning of a trilogy of which I highly anticipate the sequel, The Mailman's Daughter. If you like great, meaty stories, do get your hands on a copy of Address: House of Corrections.