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The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah

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Sister Souljah’s book “The Coldest Winter Ever” (2004) opened the door to the readers to a well-known world, which only a few people has the guts to write about.  Most importantly, this book became extremely popular to teenagers and young adults because it is a dramatic story that starts in the depths of Brooklyn’s shadowy projects and exposes a sexy, street-smart, princess called Winter.  Hence, this book can be considered as a eulogy to teenagers because the story of Winter and her family will certainly open the eyes and touch the hearts of the youth nowadays.

Just like her name, Winter could be as violent as a storm or as picturesque like a serene winter day. “The Coldest Winter Ever” is an explicit and realistic portrayal of how life can treat a person when he/she makes the right moves and how it could also thrust you in the back and turn the knife when the person make the wrong moves.

In this book, Sister Souljah weaves a story dissenting violence and drugs among the teenager or adolescent African-Americans in the inner city of Brooklyn. The main character in the story is a 17-year-old girl named Winter Santiaga.  Her father, Ricky Santiaga, is a big-time drug-dealer.  As a young girl, Winter is pampered because she is under the spell of the supposed power of her sexuality and her name.

Furthermore, Winter is a spoiled brat assured in her father’s status. Because of her belief and confidence in her father’s reputation, her arrogant attitude makes her suppose that she is on top, enabling her to disregard dreadful occurrences in her life. Due to her lavish lifestyle, she enjoys limitless shopping sprees and acquiring the average individual cannot pay for in a lifetime and could not maintain. In addition, Winter makes sure that she gets what she wants by means of any way necessary.

Since his father is already a big-time in his trade, Winter and all her family members moved out of the Brooklyn projects and transferred to a mansion located on Long Island where things begin to fall apart.  First, his father’s rival in the drug syndicate shoots her mother in the face.  Then, the FBI arrested her father and seized all her family’s possessions. Next, when Winter visited her father at Rikers Island, she found out that he has a 22-year-old mistress and a baby boy with that mistress.  When she discovered this truth, Winter felt anger toward her father for the first time because she pitied her mother.

Nevertheless, being the callous and unfeeling brat that she is, Winter left her relatives behind and started to reclaim her status and prominence and restore the former life of her father. Due to her desire for power, she became prejudiced of those people who are powerless.  And because Winter is unprepared to manage herself independently, she was inclined to commit all the wrong moves.  However, even if Winter swindles and robs those who help her, in some way, Winter still remains to be a sensitive and kind young woman. But her fascination with appearances, possessions, and money and her participation in the drug trade and the way she used several men directed her towards the wrong path. In her life, all is well and fine until a massive wind begins to blow and push her towards the wrong path. Hence, at this point in her life, she begins to confront problems and adversities as her father’s empire collapses.

Just as Winter is experiencing hardships in her life, Sister Souljah herself materializes as a “fictional” individual who expresses her conviction that Winter’s vices are common to a lot of young people.  Sister Souljah also articulates that violence, drugs and greed destroy the lives of the youth. In conveying her ideas and messages, Sister Souljah intersperses her vulgar and possibly provocative writing style with street lingo and epithets, arming her story with frankness and candor although frequently to the detriment of disciplined writing.

In writing this book, Sister Souljah wants to show to the readers that because of all her faults, vices and negative attitude, Winter experiences the most terrifying and fearsome period attempting to work out how to endure and carry on with her life.  Moreover, because of too many distractions in her life, Winter hardly sees her thin, gaunt mother wired on drugs and her deceiving and unreliable family and friends conspiring to take her life.

Nevertheless, this story can certainly be considered as a realistic and truthful coming-of-age portrayal of sin and wickedness with an important lesson.  When Winter became entangled in her web of problems and her magnificent lifestyle flips upside down, her life became a bitter struggle that only her can remove herself from. Hence, in this book, Winter’s continued existence and endurance turns out to be a profound, awe-inspiring tale.

The youth can relate to Winter’s story and experiences because some of them are also undergoing the same struggle that Winter experienced.  For instance, when a spoiled brat teenager reads this story and he/she is experiencing several problems and struggles in his/her life, they will also feel and think some of Winter’s own pain, failures and struggles.  Thus, it is hoped that through the book, young adults will learn to appreciate everything in their lives and not exploit or treat unfairly other people. Moreover, Sister Souljah’s brave and intrepid voice in this book conveys and demonstrates that life is not just about luxury, huge fashion statements, gorgeous cars or sexy men; instead, Sister Souljah wants to impart and prove that living a decent life and being there for your family are the things that are more important to be happy and contented in their lives.

In conclusion, people of all ages, particularly the youth can associate themselves with this book because Winter is also a teenager and her story illustrates what happens when somebody yields to temptations that bother the youth of today.


Sister Souljah.  (November 16, 2004). The Coldest Winter Ever (Hardcover).  Atria.

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