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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Young Diamond La Rue knows that family is everything. She has grown up feeling protected by her closely bonded family until she goes to college. And now, it’s a completely different world out here, a world that will challenge her naivety and family beliefs. As she makes contact with the world and explores new relationships at Columbia University, she struggles to keep the balance. But the reason her family has ensured she develops a strong loyalty is that it hides dirty secrets and the only way to keep a lid on them is to enforce loyalty with the family. But now, Diamond begins to see things differently, challenged by her new friendships and the world around her. Will she choose her own path or remain enslaved by mistakes that threaten the very fabric of her family?
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (Diamond La Rue) by Nascha A Joli is a character-driven narrative that explores family dynamics and a young protagonist’s journey towards self-identity and the quest for truth in a complex world. Nascha A Joli writes well and demonstrates a strong sense of setting, exploring Harlem at its crossroads and offering vivid images to readers. From the very opening, the reader is greeted with the colorful images of the boulevard named after Martin Luther King Jr. “An explosion of bright lights, billboards and bustling activity welcomed us to 125th Street. The boulevard named for Martin Luther King Jr. is the main vessel of Harlem—a long winding thoroughfare that stretches from one side of the Manhattan island to the other, the Hudson River flapping at its edges on the West Side, the choppy waters of the East River chomping on its East Side.” I enjoyed the beautiful writing and the exciting narrative voice, the vivid descriptions and the deft handling of relationships in the story. The psychological conflict permeates the narrative and it goes hand in hand with the deft character development. A great read, indeed.