I received this book for free from St. Martin's Griffin in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Hold You Down by Tracy Brown
Narrator: Patryce Williams
Length: 12 hours 10 minutes
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on November 1, 2022
Genres: Fiction / African American & Black / Urban & Street Lit, Fiction / African American & Black / Women, Fiction / Romance / Contemporary
Format: ARC, Audiobook
Source: St. Martin's Griffin
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Bookshop
Hold You Down is an edgy novel from rising star Tracy Brown about the perils of love and the ties that bind...
New York City. Late 1980s to early 1990s.
Mercy and Lenox Howard have always only had each other. Growing up on the mean streets of Harlem with an absentee mother meant that they had to have each other's backs. Now young, smart mothers they are determined to survive in New York City while raising their two sons, who have bright futures ahead of them.
Mercy is the quiet, straight laced hospital administrator, struggling to make ends meet. At night and on weekends, she pours her heart into her cooking and her dream of owning her own restaurant. Lenox is the diva, the wild child, looking for excitement and her big come up in life and love. Their boys, Deon and Judah, have been raised more like brothers than cousins, forging a bond that is unbreakable.
When Lenox heads down a path that she believes will bring success and power, it changes the entire course of her life and her family’s life forever. As a result of their mother’s choices, cousins Deon and Judah soon find themselves in uncharted territory.
Sisterhood, Drama, Family Ties and Harlem in the 80s/90s. Hold You Down by Tracy Brown will take you for a ride that will have you in your feels by the end of it. I picked Hold You Down up based on the cover featuring two Black women who looked like two stylish sisters – one flashy and one practical– because I was curious about the story behind the contrast. It was one of my best book decisions this year.
Harlem in the Late Eighties
I’m not going to pout about the fact that the late eighties and early nineties is now considered historical fiction. I promise. Okay, maybe I pouted a little bit. Anyways, Hold You Down is set in Harlem in the late eighties and begins with two sisters who are also single moms. This book had me from the beginning as in Lenox and her crazy self had me both shocked and cracking up during the opening scene. Sis told the preacher to get a move on with her own mama’s funeral because it was cold and if they hadn’t made their peace with her absentee self yet, then it wasn’t gonna happen.
Wild Sis and Sensible Sis
Since I mentioned Lenox first, I will definitely admit to both liking her for her spunk and simultaneously appalled at her dangerous choices. I don’t know what you would call her character — morally grey? I think villain is too strong of a word. She is young, street smart and has a wild streak that supports her lifestyle choices. She definitely overshadows her sister Mercy and too me Lenox is the bright flame of the family. Mercy is the sister you can depend on for anything. Lenox knows this and definitely takes advantage. But Mercy has Lenox’s back because they are both best friends and sisters.
This is an intergenerational story that smoothly transitions from telling the story of the sisters to telling that of their sons. I thought I was going to fall off of finishing the book when it transitioned to the boys, because my usual preference is for female main characters. But I was pleasantly surprised when the point of view change switched to the boys so seamlessly that I was able to stick with the plot without interruption or distraction.
The heartbreak that this family goes through as a result of multiple bad decisions, fear and outside influences will have you in tears. But you will never stop hoping for them and rooting for them all the way to the last page.
This story hooked me from start to end. I was crying, laughing, gasping and pulling my hair through reading this book. I was rooting for EVERY member in this whole family the entire time! It is one of my top reads for the year. I have never read a novel focused on this particular topic during this time period – New York City at the beginning and in the aftermath of the Crack epidemic. I also don’t usually read urban fiction. But this one is Chef’s Kiss!!!
The audiobook is awesome and I definitely recommend it! Loved the narrator’s voice! Her characterization of various characters – male and female – meant that I had no trouble following along with any shifts in the novel.
Trigger Warnings: Sexual Assault, Drugs, Violence