Book Review: I AM AYAH – THE WAY HOME by Donna Hill

I AM AYAH: THE WAY HOME by Donna Hill book cover featuring a close-up graphic illustration of the head a young Black female wearing hoop earrings and a purple head wrap in a profile viewI Am Ayah: The Way Home by Donna Hill
ISBN: 9781649371461 (Paperback)
ISBN: 9781649371683 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250893338 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B0BH9BBTZM (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B099QHBM7G (Kindle edition)
Page Count: 368
Publication date: May 23, 2023
Publisher: Sideways Books
Genre: Fiction | Romance | Multi-Cultural

Set amid Sag Harbor’s vibrant African American history, bestselling author Donna Hill weaves a stunningly rich story about finding the way home…no matter how long the journey takes.

Alessandra Fleming has spent most of her life running from her past. Her budding photography career, her life in Manhattan, all serve to distract from the secrets and guilt she’s never been able to face. Then the call. Her estranged father is in the hospital…and Alessandra must return home to Sag Harbor, crumbling the first wall between her past and her present.

For some, coming home is a relief. For Alessandra, it’s a reminder of the family she’s lost, of the time she’ll never regain. But the answers—the secrets—of her family are hidden in the house, waiting for her. And the only one who may be able to help her uncover them is her father’s neighbor, Zach, who brings with him an attraction that’s intense and instantaneous, yet oddly familiar.

Now Alessandra is being pulled back not only into her own complex family history, but into the richly documented lives of four extraordinary women. Generations touched by tragedy and triumph, despair and hope. And it’s in these aching echoes of the past that Alessandra’s own story—her mistakes and her capacity to love—will take shape, guiding her to the life she’s meant to live…and the extraordinary person she will become.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | | Barnes and Noble | B&N Audiobook | B&N eBook | Downpour Audiobook | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

Book Review graphic banner with the words "Book" and "Review" separated by a pile of booksThere are many sayings about not being able to go home again, for whatever reason, but Alessandra Fleming must return to her hometown after being notified that he has been hospitalized due to a fall. For Alessandra, there’s never a good time to go “home,” especially since she’s preparing for her first art show and must take a leave of absence from her job at the art gallery. But Alessandra does return to her home in Sag Harbor and tries to uncover the secrets of her family’s past, along with her past, in an effort to understand her father and rebuild their relationship. Little does Alessandra know, but her family has deep and dark ties to Sag Harbor, dating back to the 19th century and the slave trade. Throughout Alessandra’s visit home, she experiences flashes of someone else in some other time. Is she going crazy? Will the secrets she uncovers help her understand who she is, where she’s come from, and what’s happening to her? Will Alessandra be able to build a relationship with the new man in her life, Zach Renard?

I Am Ayah: The Way Home is presented with a dual timeline, the contemporary story dealing with Alessandra, and the historical narrative of Ayah, a woman kidnapped from Africa and an escapee from enslavement. One of the big questions seems to be what do these two women have in common even though they’re separated by centuries? The author gradually reveals Ayah’s saga and that of her descendants. It was heartening to see Alessandra make an attempt to reconcile with her father, as well as see the friendship and burgeoning romance develop between her and Zach. The author presents realistic characters that are all too flawed, but she intersperses this with bits of humor to lighten up the story. Zach’s grandmother, Grace Oweku aka Mrs. O, is an amazing elder, dispensing lots of wisdom. I enjoyed all of the characters, the dual timelines, and the action. I Am Ayah: The Way Home is much more than a romance. I found it to be an intriguing and entrancing read about family history and heritage, not just Ayah’s, but Alessandra’s and Zach’s as well. Of course, the romance added just the right amount of spice to the story. If you enjoy stories with a blend of historical and contemporary timelines, stories filled with family angst and drama, or stories with romantic elements, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of I Am Ayah: The Way Home. I’ve ordered a print copy of this book for my 88-y.o. book diva mother to read. Something tells me she’s going to enjoy this one just as much as I did.

Happy Reading, y’all! ♦

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


2020 Book 438: CONFESSIONS IN B-FLAT by Donna Hill

Confessions in B-Flat by Donna Hill 
ISBN: 9781640638990 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781640638297 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781640638303 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781662051647 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781662052507 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B08JHCB9MC  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B0879HJ7S6   (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 24, 2020 
Publisher: Sideways Books

Essence bestselling author Donna Hill brings us an emotional love story set against the powerful backdrop of the civil rights movement that gripped a nation—a story as timely as it is timeless…

The year is 1963. In Harlem, the epicenter of Black culture, the fight for equality has never been stronger. The time is now. Enough is enough. Yet even within its ranks, a different kind of battle rages. Love thy neighbor? Or rise up against your oppressors?

Jason Tanner has just arrived in New York to help spread the message of his mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., of passive resistance, while beat poet Anita Hopkins believes the teachings of Malcolm X with all her heart: that the way to true freedom is “by any means necessary.” When Jason sees Anita perform her poetry at the iconic B-Flat lounge, he’s transfixed. And Anita has never met anyone who can match her wit for wit like this…

One movement, two warring ideologies—can love be enough to unite them?

Confessions in B-Flat is a celebration of the hard-won victories of those who came before us, and a stark reminder of just how far we still have to go.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  BookDepository  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook

Anita Hopkins is a New York girl that fervently believes in the message of Minister Malcolm X Shabazz, “by any means necessary.” She volunteers for the movement, works as a waitress, is a poet with a growing local following, and a music lover. She doesn’t believe in compromise until she meets Jason Tanner. Jason is from Atlanta, an avid churchgoer, and is devoted to the message of nonviolence taught by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He’s moved from Georgia to New York with the hopes of bringing the message of nonviolent protest to the North. To say that Anita and Jason stand on opposite sides of the Civil Rights movement is a major understatement, but their attraction to one another just might help them bridge the divide. Gradually, they begin to accept that their views will continue to differ but they’re willing to “agree to disagree” to keep the peace as their relationship grows. Eventually, Anita introduces Jason to her parents in Brooklyn and Jason introduces Anita to his family in Atlanta. Jason wants more permanence to their relationship, namely marriage, but Anita thinks that they can simply live together for now. Just when it seems as if their relationship can’t handle another stumbling block, they come together once again until Jason makes a decision that Anita can’t understand or accept. This separation just might be the death knell for them when the Tanner family and Anita receive startling news. Anita might have stopped going to church after high school, but she needs faith and prayer now more than ever before. 

I’ve read a lot of romance novels over the years, beginning with my first Harlequin when I was about 13-years-old. I can’t believe that I’ve never read anything by Donna Hill before now. Confessions in B-Flat is more than a story about opposites-attract romance, it’s also about the two sides of the Civil Rights movement: the philosophies surrounding those movements and the reasons for those philosophies. The story touches on justice, protest movements, and even the early days of Vietnam. There’s a lot going on in this story and I enjoyed it all. I enjoyed the brief scenes with Dr. King, John Lewis, Andrew Young, the glimpses of 1960s Apollo theater music reviews, the inclusion of bits of speeches by Malcolm X, thoughts by James Baldwin, and others. Anita and Jason have a tempestuous relationship, but it was fascinating to read about the development of their romance. I enjoyed the scenes with Anita’s parents, as well as those with Jason’s family. Confessions in B-Flat has tons of angst and drama along with the romance and Civil Rights action. (Although this novel is set in the early 1960s, it is just as topical today with the Black Lives Matter campaigns, protests against police violence, etc.) This might not be a typical romance novel, but it was definitely one I enjoyed and feel can be enjoyed by anyone that enjoys reading romance stories featuring recent history. If you’re not a romance reader, then you can enjoy reading Confessions in B-Flat for just the history alone (not to mention the poetry). I look forward to reading more by Donna Hill in the future and have already amassed a list of her previous books that I want to read. I’ll be getting a print copy of Confessions in B-Flat for my 86-y.o. mother to read because I think she’ll enjoy this one as much as I did.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the >Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”