“I Used to Cry: The Essence of Essence”
by E.N. Hardy
Genre: African-American/Coming of Age/Urban
Release Date: July 1, 2017
A powerful story of a young girl who grew up much too fast due in part to her own actions and the actions/inactions of those who should have been guiding and protecting her.
A smart girl, Essence ‘Nikki’ Huggins’ potential to achieve leaps off the page. Unfortunately, her father’s abandonment and mother’s poor relationship choices do serious damage to Nikki’s self-esteem. Add in her issues with her plus-size body-type and Essence is a child looking for love and acceptance in all the wrong ways and places.
One of these ‘wrong’ encounters further diminishes Nikki’s opinion of herself and costs her what could be the love of her life.
Trying to move on, Nikki’s desperate need for attention leads her down some pathways no woman should have to deal with… so watching a child do it was heartbreaking.
Parents aren’t perfect and make their share of mistakes, but I was less than impressed with Nikki’s mom, Esther, and Stacy’s mom.
While Esther had her ‘motherly’ moments, IMHO, she was too self-absorbed in her own drama to properly nurture her own children. Allowing Nikki to smoke weed and drink (and even doing those things with her daughter) was bad enough, but when she offered to fix fourteen-year-old Nikki up with a twenty-seven-year-old man, I was done.
Despite her ongoing setbacks, Nikki is a hard worker and never backs down from a challenge. She refuses to be just another welfare mother. She will not be dictated to. Nikki does want more and that desire leads her to work two jobs and continue her education at night and earn a degree. At times, she would persevere with little or no outside support and accomplish what women twice her age failed to. Nikki is not some weak-minded child willing to perpetuate a stereotype. She is stronger than even she realizes. But Nikki was her own worst enemy and self-sabotaged. Maybe not consciously… but she still did.
None of the men who passed through Nikki’s life were worthy of her. I believe deep inside she knew that. Yet, fueled by her cravings for attention and love, Nikki allowed herself to be abused and used physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially time and time again.
Any sympathy I had for Nikki changed to apathy when after finally reaching adulthood and making positive life changes, her relationship choices didn’t improve. Even when the truth is laid out in front of her, Nikki is slow to end what is probably her most toxic relationship yet.
And that’s why book 1 ends the way it does.
I Used to Cry is well-written, grammatical and editing errors are minor, but there is confusion over Nikki’s last name–Huggins/Hudgins.
I Used to Cry is a journey that has more downs than ups. But there is change and growth, and it’s honest and raw… and a journey worth taking. I recommend it and am looking forward to book 2.