Power & Beauty begins with a deadly fire at Charlie’s Disco, owned by Charles “Slim” Simmons, which kills Charlotte Clay, mother of Paul “Power” Clay and adopted daughter, Tanya “Beauty” Long. As the two teens cope with their loss they find themselves clinging to each other for consolation. Their first night alone concludes with an experience that they both vow never to speak of again, but their silence speaks volumes as they cannot seem to quiet their innermost thoughts and desires from that day forward.
Slim steps up immediately and not only takes care of Charlotte’s funeral expenses, but offers to move the two into his home so they can be provided for in the wake of their mother’s untimely death. Power is eager to experience the lavish lifestyle Slim leads, but Beauty is apprehensive and untrusting. When Wanda Washington, their mother’s good friend and the owner of Wanda’s Wigs another of Slim’s establishments, steps in, she plays devil’s advocate and tries to make the scenario more appealing. Either way, the decision is out of their hands and they ultimately wind up in Slim’s care.
This arrangement is short lived as Beauty decides to leave to attend an arts high school inNew York, and stay with one of Wanda’s friends. The only catch being that Slim cannot know where she is or that Wanda is helping her. Beauty’s warnings to Power about Slim fall on death ears as he decides to stay inAtlantaand follow whichever path Slim leads him on.
The first section of the book trails Power on this journey as Slim introduces him one by one to “real life teachers” put in his path to educate him on life lessons he could never learn in school. Each teacher is more bizarre than the next and it’s a drawn out process to figure out whatever lesson Power is supposed to be learning. Beauty isn’t seen or heard from until the second section, which hurriedly brings us up to speed on her life after leavingAtlanta. The only common ground the two share in their years apart is always having the other on their mind.
The book ends with a planned reunion for Power and Beauty once she realizes that she was right about Slim all along and Power may now be in imminent danger. What happens next is abrupt and unexpected.
*** SPOILER ALERT BEGINS ***
As Power and Beauty finally lay eyes on each other again after all these years, their meeting is cut short as Power is grabbed by two men and thrown into the back of an Escalade that speeds off before Beauty can reach it. The End!
The conclusion will follow in Power & Beauty: Book Two – A Love Story Of Life On The Streets.
*** SPOILER ALERT ENDS ***
Power & Beauty wasn’t a great read, but it wasn’t a bad one either. It was middle ground, with some highs and some lows. I think the book would have read better if there were alternating chapters between the two storylines as opposed to Power’s story followed by Beauty’s. For this particular set-up, the monotony of each individual account took away from the momentum of the book as a whole. I feel there should have been stronger character development, because everyone was an “on the surface” type of personality with no real depth.
However, for a first time effort, it was a good one. I will definitely follow T.I. to see where this story takes him. I’m just hoping there will be intertwining storylines, better character development and some closure next time around. I’m anxious to see what’s next from T.I. with David Ritz.
Rating: 3 Stars