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Wild Women and the Blues | Denny S. Bryce | Book Review

Wild Women and the Blues is a historical fiction story that paints a vivid picture of the 1920s jazz scene. It follows Honoree, a young Black woman, trying to make her way in Chicago. She is talented but also deeply flawed as a character. Her journey involves several steps forward as well as an equal amount of steps back. It really is part of an era of hard knocks and glamor.

Honoree’s story is part of an dual timeline involving film student Sawyer. As part of his thesis he is asking Honoree about her life. At first, Honoree is reluctant to share as there are some parts of her life that are extremely painful. Her reluctance causes tension between her and Sawyer as they are both really impassioned characters and unafraid to speak their minds.

Honestly, I was way more invested in Honoree’s story than Sawyer’s. Honoree is such a dynamic character. She is determined to make her way and be successful. Unfortunately she finds herself involved in several dangerous situations within the jazz world. She really is a great character with a big heart that she tries to shield in a tough world. She also is not afraid to push against difficulty – mostly against the men who owned the jazz clubs and therefore thought they owned the world.

There is so much grit in this story that kept me turning the pages. There are also several secrets – some of which actually involve Sawyer and his family in unexpected ways. Both characters have experiences tragedy and heartbreak but the way they deal with it is vastly different. Honoree finds strength in hardship while Sawyer would rather try to ignore or run away from it. In fact his whole thesis with Honoree starts as a way to save himself from hardship. Yet the more time he spends with her, the more he realizes she is so much more than he ever imagined.

There is a large part of me that would have preferred to have the entire book be based around Honoree and the 1920s jazz scene. There was so much to offer there and it didn’t feel stilted like it did during Sawyer’s sections. I understand there was a connection between the two characters but I couldn’t help thinking “bring back the jazz” every time it was a present day scene. Honoree lived such a unique and addictive life, it was hard not to be so fully invested in it. I just wanted to learn more about the era of Wild Women and the Blues!

Rating: 4 Stars

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