‘Water Ways’ is the story of the development Water Sinclair; a woman haunted by childhood trauma, an inept mother, the psychiatric institution that exist in America, and a twisted romance with a married man; these are Water’s foes, obstacles that she must battle to find self and a life worth living. Water’s childhood traumas are so debilitating that her psychological growth stops in adolescence, and the reader witnesses her trying to survive life with this deficient: she works, has sex, attempts friendships, and eventually becomes pregnant all from and adolescent’s point of view. She is trying to fight adult battles with a child’s weaponry, and the reader knows this. In her adolescent state, Water needed guidance - her mother offered none, a totally self-centered individual who was more of a detriment than an aide. Water painfully develops the strength to move beyond their caustic relationship, and with the help of life circumstances, she frees herself from sickness of her mother. Water’s most substantial foe was the American psychiatric institution; here she was abandon, mislead, and deceived. When she sought help, she was abused further with no consequences for her abusers. What Water hoped was love turned out to be twisted life threatening deception. What was solid land turned to quicksand sucking her hopes and desires beneath the surface. The reader witnesses Water’s growth despite these obstacles; her learning how to fight and when to say no, her learning that sexual needs are not always meant to be met, her learning that every smiling face is not a friend, and most importantly her learning that she is valuable to herself.
Love is Gonna Getcha is a traditional romance novel is partially accurate, but that statement short sells the story. To say the novel is erotica is also accurate, but again the story is being sold short. And yes, it is a mother and daughter conflict story, but part of the story is also about a thirty plus year friendship between two Black women. The romance is between a forty-two-year-old woman who is annoyed with her job, agitated with her teen, and sexually frustrated due to dating men ten and fifteen years her senior, and a twenty something young man who believes the forty-two-year-old is the sexiest woman on the planet. Their love affair is hot to say the least. The reader moves through the stages of the relationship with both the older woman and the young man: the mutual attraction is witnessed, the self-doubt, the youthful arrogance, and the “cougar” wisdom all play apart in establishing the heart throbbing sexual romance between the older woman and the younger man. As for the novel being considered erotica, well, the passion literally drips from the pages. There are scenes that go “stroke for stroke,” and there are scenes where the love making is cerebral. What is undeniable is the physical wanting of their two bodies—it takes a minute for their minds to match their bodies’ desire, but it happens, and the romance becomes as lustful as the erotica. The mother and daughter conflict is a strong subplot; at times, it tries to override the love affair which is a good experience for the reader because both plots hold one’s attention. The mother and daughter conflict adds page turning expectancy to the story, the reader wants to know what will happen next in the relationship. Friendship is another important storyline in the novel. The dependence of friends in decision making, family matters and work problems is witnessed throughout the novel. Good and bad advice is encountered in the novel much like life. There is nothing typical about Love is Gonna Getcha; readers will become engrossed in the plot, tears will be shed, libidos will be jolted, and hearts will throb. It will appeal to chick lit readers, romance readers, readers of erotica, family saga readers, and African American literature readers.
The memoir begins with Shanna Red expressing what she believes is the duty of family; this early theme sets the tone of the work. There is very little family responsibility illustrated in Wilson’s memoir. The reader meets a young Shanna, born into a family with an addicted mother; due to their neglect, she and her brother are placed into foster care. This happens due to another’s greed. In her first foster home Shanna and her brother Carl are mentally and physically abused by adults who are responsible for them. This abuse continues until a rebellious moment when both Shanna and Carl strike back. Shanna’s childhood struggles with school, friendship, the foster care system, and the color conscious society she exists in foreshadows the work. The reader is spared little of the painful details that shaped Shashanna Wilson. One hopes for her rescue, but what one witnesses her survival. The environment that Shanna survives as a child is painful to experience as a reader, but there are moments of genuine love between her and her brother that warms the heart. These warm moments are short lived due to the separation of the two. Shanna’s struggle with drug addiction is second only to the struggle with family; throughout the work she is longing for a family to belong, but this desire is unfulfilled due to the foster families being created for profit, which is how she describes the foster homes she was placed in. What saves Wilson is a dependence on self. She looks within for strength and finds it. She breaks free of the murk in which exist through education, drug rehabilitation programs, planning, and a developed belief in a higher power. The goal of passing the GED lays a strategy for her life. If nothing else, a young Shanna Red learned how to set goals and accomplish them.