New York Times bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey has been winning over audiences for nearly twenty years by painting vivid pictures like a literary Picasso. Over the years, he has created a diverse set of compelling characters that seem to have a real life of their own. In his latest offering, The Blackbirds, a lot of those characters have resurfaced to lend their voice to an expansive, emotional saga about four grown women striving to navigate the rivers of a tumultuous life while keeping their sisterhood intact.
Yeah, sounds like a lot. Right? Well, that’s because this book is a lot – over 500 pages of literary genius. Unfortunately, the book could have been just as good – maybe even better – if it were 100 pages shorter.
Don’t get it twisted; this is still Eric Jerome Dickey so the writing quality is top-notch. The scenes are as vivid as if you were walking the streets yourself. The sexcapades are intricate enough to satisfy the sapiosexual, and raw enough to satisfy the insatiable freak simultaneously. The way he describes locales is unparalleled. The complex method in which he breaks down a woman’s emotions will have you double-checking the cover to see if a man, indeed, wrote the book. The snooty, condescending, elitist Indigo leaves no question that he has gone to Nigeria to research for the book (or found another way to research Nigerian women) because her character is dead-on. ***If you really want Indigo to come to life, check out the Audio book*** Kwanzaa’s trysts with her . . . weird . . . lover attests to a wicked mind. Erica and Destiny are both blasts from the past of other well-received books, and it is a pleasure to catch up with them. You can feel the sisterhood of the Blackbirds. The themes in this book are real, relevant, and addressed in a mature way. You feel sad as if you are going through the medical hardships right along with the Blackbirds. I can’t recall any book addressing terminal illness in such a human way. If this book were music, it would be old-school Mary J. Blige mixed with new-school Beyonce.
What’s the problem then, you ask?
This book just draaaaaaaaggggsssss on and on. For starters, the dialogue at the beginning was too long. I’m all for character development, but this story took too long to get into the actual story. Then, the return of characters like Destiny and Erica was a pleasant surprise. However, if you were remotely familiar with them, you spent too much time trying to reflect on them in the past books rather than just enjoying them in the current book. Normally, bringing back old characters in new books works well, but it has to be balanced out properly. In this case, it tipped the scales. The main gripe is that the book is just too long though. The dialogue feels forced at some points. The never-ending drama becomes exhausting by the end of the book. Indigo’s continuous seddity boasting about Nigeria gnaws at you after awhile, and comes off as child-like naivete (as if she doesn’t know that Nigeria is known as the most corrupt nation on the planet.) Finally, after all that reading, there are still a lot of unresolved questions at the completion of the book.
In conclusion, I give the book 4 Books (here at #Litish we use books instead of stars for our rating system.) It is a solid read by one of the best writers of our time. Now, where is that next Gideon book?