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Book Review – Begonia Brown: A Philadelphia Story by Julia Press Simmons

Begonia Brown: A Philadelphia Story
by Julia Press Simmons
(Queen Midas Books)
5 out of 5 Stars

Julia Press Simmons has really hit her literary stride with “Begonia Brown”, the second installment in her “A Philadelphia Story” series. Pulling no punches, Simmons has skillfully penned a heart-wrenching saga following the lives of Begonia Brown (age 17) and her two sisters Violet (age 16) and Daisy (age 6). The souls of these girls are as beautiful as the flowers they are named after, but they are planted in a North Philadelphia neighborhood that offers very little to nurture their souls.

The girls’ mother, Doreen, is present physically, but has lost the mental and spiritual battle to a crack addiction is primary to her existence. Shortly after the girls’ grandmother passes away, Begonia finds herself in the center of utter chaos: her mother is another ghost of the streets, Violet is naive to the streets and Daisy is a baby that contends with juvenile diabetes and a lack of medical supplies. Begonia takes the initiative to do absolutely any- and everything to keep her sisters together and alive, even if it means kicking her mother out of the abandoned house they live in. That’s enough to make a grown man cry or a young girl grow up quick and “make it happen”.

“Begonia Brown” is written in a way that any reader will be emotionally drained as they share in Begonia’s struggle. Although Begonia is an artist at heart, her skills as a painter takes a backseat to the skills she uses to survive in her poverty-stricken Philadelphia neighborhood. From robbing and stealing to performing sexual favors, Begonia reluctantly buries her morals to the side and conceals her regrets in a thick soup of justifications, liquor and cigarettes. The way Begonia deals with the curve balls that life throws at the Brown family had me at times forgetting that Begonia is 17-years-old and not 34.

Violet is highly intelligent, and she is not satisfied with being impoverished. Only one year younger than Begonia, Violet is still innocent. Violet’s story intensifies at just the right point in the story to balance out Begonia’s one-woman-show. Violet goes from books to cooking crack cocaine for the neighborhood crook. She finds herself trying to balance the line between getting her tail beat by Begonia and losing what she feels is the love of her life. Violet’s love for the “corner boy” Kyle makes her blind and sheds light on how good girls can find themselves with the worst people and the worst situations and stay.

Simmons fine-tuned Begonia Brown, both as a book and as a character. To say there is never a dull moment is an understatement. Simmons grabs the reader by the hand with a painful grip and never gives the reader a chance to pull away. “Begonia Brown” transcends Urban Literature in a way that paints a realistic portrayal of a struggle that is universal and brutally honest.

Instead of giving the reader luxury cars, couture from international designers and an infinite supply of drug money, Simmons gives you bra straps, bathroom beat-downs and sexual predators who think nothing of paying minors for instant gratification. What makes “Begonia Brown” such a compelling read is Simmons’ ability to show the vulgarities of inner-city struggles without being vulgar.

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The UPrinting.com 250 Business Card Giveaway on JoeyPinkney.com

Hi! My name is…

Webster’s Dictionary defines a business card as “a small card bearing information (as name and address) about a business or business representative”.

That’s cool, but…

What is the most creative use of a business card you can think of?

JoeyPinkney.com is hosting a “UPrinting.com 250 Business Card Giveaway” January 6, 2010 to 11:59pm EST January 13, 2010. The person with the most creative answer to the above question will win a set of 250 business cards and only pay the shipping and handling. (And don’t worry, the backside won’t advertise the printer…)

Here are the details:

  • Count: 250 cards

  • Sizes to choose from: 2 x 3.5”, 2 x 3”, 2 x 2” (square card) or 1.5 x 3.5” (skinny card)

  • Papers to choose from: 14 pt gloss cardstock, 14 pt matte cardstock or 13 pt recycled uncoated cardstock

  • Notification: January 23, 2010 by email from UPrinting.com (make sure you leave the correct email address when you comment)

  • Shipping: Paid by winner

  • Eligibility: Limited to US Residents due to shipping cost

Leave your creative comments below by 11:59pm EST January 13, 2010 to participate in this giveaway. (If you can’t find where to leave the comments, click on the title “The UPrinting.com 250 Business Card Giveaway on JoeyPinkney.com” above and scroll down.)

I look forward to reading your interesting comments. Remember, make sure you give me the correct email address. That’s what I will give UPrinting.com, so they can contact you for your prize.

I, Joey Pinkney, will also receive 250 Business Cards from UPrinting.com for hosting this giveaway.

The UPrinting.com 100 Postcard Giveaway on JoeyPinkney.com

What better way to start 2010 than with free?

JoeyPinkney.com is hosting a “UPrinting.com 100 Postcard Giveaway” from now until the end of the year. All you have to do is leave a comment stating how you would use a free set of 100 postcards. A winner will be chosen and emailed a coupon code for the 100 Free Postcards on January 8, 2009. (You will be responsible for paying the shipping and handling.)

Here’s what is included in this giveaway:

  • Count: 100 postcards

  • Size: 4”x6”

  • Paper: 14pt cardstock gloss

  • Printing: full color on both sides

  • Shipping: paid by winner

Leave your creative comments below by December 31, 2009 to participate in this giveaway. (If you can’t find where to leave the comments, click on the title “The UPrinting.com 100 Postcard Giveaway on JoeyPinkney.com” above and scroll down.)

I, Joey Pinkney, will also receive 100 Postcards from UPrinting.com for hosting this giveaway.