Book Review – Where Did We Go Wrong? by Monica Mathis-Stowe Book Review
Where Did We Go Wrong?
by Monica Mathis-Stowe
4 of 5 Stars

Where Did We Go Wrong? by Monica Mathis-Stowe is entertaining and unpredictable. The friendships that cement into sisterhood between Joy, Gabby and Maxine is tested by the non-stop drama these late-20-somethings find themselves creating. Being “sisters from other misters” is the only thing that keeps these Morgan State University graduates together. Equal parts dysfunction and support, the bond formed in college is barely strong enough to keep the rocky relationships from disintegrating into nothingness. Sometimes friendship is a matter of familiarity.

Joy has the perfect boyfriend. Going ten years strong, Allen loves with no limits and is a ready to spend the rest of his life with Joy. Every weekend, either Allen flies from Atlanta to Baltimore or Joy flies to the ATL. Lovers since high school, their relationship would be perfect if Joy was not dead set on hiding Allen from her mother at all costs. Although she calls her mother by her first name, Bea is the end all be all (no pun intended) when it comes to Joy relationships with men and the pursuit of her education.

Maxine has the perfect family, or so it seems. Her husband Trent is a successful lawyer. She spends her days taking care of their two young sons, but a life as a housewife wears thin. Maxine has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree and loves to teach in schools. She wants to help her family get out of the unnecessary debt that grows month after month. Trent is not only against this gesture, he shows his displeasure by inflicting physical and mental abuse on the mild-mannered Maxine.

Gabby has the perfect scheme. She finds a way to get pregnant by Baltimore’s star quarterback Rayshawn – a man worth $75 million. The fact that he’s married with children makes it very convenient to secretly take Rayshawn’s child support money and have her boyfriend William marry her under the presumption that baby Nadia is his child. If it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense…

Monica Mathis-Stowe orchestrates a scintillating adventure in Where Did We Go Wrong? that will leave you affected by the world that is left behind after the last page is turned. The author gives each of the three women distinct attitudes and sets of behaviors. The power struggle between the two alpha-women Gabby and Joy is juxtapositioned by Maxine’s nurturing, timid nature. The interactions are as interesting as they are authentic – with the strengths and weaknesses giving Where Did We Go Wrong? its own feel. Where Maxine wants everything to be alright, Gabby thrives on conflict. Where Gabby wants everyone she comes into contact to benefit her, Joy wants her friends to be strong and independent. Where Joy finds herself sad because she is alone, Maxine is sad because she has a family and wants to do so much more for them.

The conversations between the women could go in any direction at a moments notice. For instance, Gabby and Maxine gave opposite responses when it came to giving advice to Joy. When Joy found out she was definitely pregnant, Gabby was ready to set up the abortion the next morning with the abortion clinic’s number already in her cell phone whereas Maxine suggested Joy take a few moments to figure out if she wants to keep the baby. When Joy was considering a self-imposed shotgun wedding, Maxine wanted Joy to decline and think about the long-term effects whereas Gabby wanted her to think about the money and run with it so that Gabby could start planning the event. How do you like that for a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other?

What did I like about the book? Starting from the outside in, the book cover was tastefully done. Sure, the women were posing in their tight clothes. They were sexy, but not sexually overbearing. I liked the obvious hard work Monica Mathis-Stowe put in to keep the reader guessing what’s coming up next – because something was always coming up next. Always… There were times where things happened that were conceivable in hindsight but not for the reason predicted.

I also loved to hate Gabby. Even though this is a novel about three friends, Gabby is the arch-villain that takes center stage of every scene of which she is a part. As the book progresses, she gets more evil and harsh in ways that will leave your eyebrows raised to your hairline in sheer shock. Joy and Maxine have interesting experiences in Where Did We Go Wrong?, but Gabby is pure hell in human form. Because of this, she drives the drama further than the other two women could have without Gabby. Without this addition to the trio, Where Did We Go Wrong? would be another run-of-the-mill Lifetime Movie in book-form. In more ways than one, she is the keystone to this book’s success.

What did I not like about Where Did We Go Wrong? As enjoyable as the book is to read, there are a few jarring editing errors. If this book was dull, the mistakes would not have jumped off the page. It’s like a shiny SUV with a few small dents in the driver-side door – they are small, but noticeable. Another aspect I did not like about this book is that I could not buy into the friendship Joy and Maxine had with Gabby. Sure, we all have friends who are not so savory. The people who live like Gabby in real life have to cycle through friends and associates because people tend to get tired of their selfish antics are a while. There are people who let their friends run over them, but Joy and Maxine were growing enough in their own struggles that they could have easily moved on from the one way relationship Gabby entails. There were also a few time where designer clothing or accessories were mentioned that took away from the momentum of the story due to irrelevance.

If you love drama, Where Did We Go Wrong? is the perfect read. The action never dies down in a novel that Monica Mathis-Stowe made sure will do more than keep our attention. This book deals with issues like domestic abuse, long-distance relationships, extramarital affairs and strained friendships in a way that keeps your heart pounding and your brain turning.

5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Monica Mathis-Stowe, author of Where Did We Go Wrong?

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