If you miss the 90s, an era where black ensemble films were the norm and not an anomaly, When Baldwin Loved Brendan is the book for you. Remember your college days where you struggled to find your crew, but once you found them, they became your world? What parties you were going to, where you were hanging out, sometimes what classes you took all depended on what everyone in your clique was doing. Centered on the lives of four former college friends that come together to send another friend off, When Baldwin Loved Brendan tells the story of forgiveness and redemption.
Each member of the clique has a role to play and within their clique, Rihanna was the peacemaker. A plus-sized beauty with a heart of gold (I know, so cliché), Rihanna played the role of confidante to her friends. While the friends have drifted apart since graduation, Rihanna has stayed in contact with each of them, holding them dear to her heart. As the group assembles in Rihanna’s home in the days leading up to her funeral, the book takes on a 30 Years to Life/Lovejones/The Wood feel. Told through a series of flashbacks, combined with present day, we learn the role each played in the group and why they fell out.
A playboy, Christopher could have any woman on campus he wanted, but he wanted Baldwin. Unfortunately, Baldwin’s heart belonged to another member of the group, Brendan. Bria’s heart belonged to no one in college. Too busy bedding her next conquest; she didn’t want to be tied down to any man. Watching the friends come back together, their roles then and now are easily identifiable. Although they’ve aged and matured some, they’re still very much the people they were back in the day.
The author ties their stories together well and while you think you know how things are going to play out, she does a good job of throwing in a twist here and there. However, the biggest twist she threw in came in the final pages and really made me pause because, girl, what? I think the author thought she was giving readers a big a-ha moment, but it was unnecessary and added nothing to the story line. In fact, I found myself a bit annoyed by it because it seems as if she did it simply to shock the reader. Had she thrown this twist in earlier in the book, there would have been time to explore the implications. By waiting until the last minute, the shocker fell flat and left me feeling a little let down. A very good read turned into a very okay read.
Published: January 2013
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