In 2020 the literary world was introduced to the infamous Porter clan. These brothers are an acquired taste, you either love them or hate them. For the readers that love them, Nina decided to bless us with a prequel about their dad, Hassan. This very limited-edition story was only released in paperback or hardcover edition and if you weren't in the few that got it, you'll never be able to get it. The author did it this way because of the harsh topics this book touches on: abuse (physical, mental, emotional, verbal and sexual), child abuse, death, drug use, excessive violence, explicit underage content, extremely vulgar language, homophobia, mental illness, sex with a minor, self-injurious behavior and suicide. If you've read any of the previous books connected to these characters, none of these topics should surprise you or offend you. It's 571 pages of rawness, but once readers are finished, they'll have a better understanding of the characters they love so much.
When the story starts, Hassan is a teen that just lost his father, Kyle. His mother, Hanifa, hates him because of the sins of his father. "I hate you because you came from him and anything that man ever gave me, was poison. Ruined my fuckin' life!" Instead of being consoled by his only living parent, he's shunned, not even being able to grieve his father correctly. At a young age, Hassan is forced to live and survive on his own. That is until Erica, who readers know as Mucci, comes along and devotes her entire life to him. Erica wasn't Hassan's first choice of spending his days with, but her loyalty to him is what forced him to keep her around. "He forced himself to deal with Erica because being alone felt like a suffering he couldn't take." Not only is Hassan dealing with the loss of his dad and the rejection of his mother, but he also has mental issues that prevents him from being classified as normal. As the story goes on readers will see that there's nothing normal about Hassan or the way he lives.
During his life span Hassan collected an assortment of women, inevitably turning the worst ones into the mothers of his children. "All y'all bitches the same. He glimmer, don't he? He shine? It all look good when you runnin' after what you don't know. Y'all should listen to your lil parents and stay out the streets cause you gon' run across niggas like Hassan that make you wish you never even existed." Erica, Oceana, Rasheeda, Adrianna, and Demetria had one thing in common, and it wasn't their love for Hassan, it was their resemblance to Hanifa, the woman that started Hassan's disdain for women. "The older Hassan got the more he saw his mother in each of his baby mommas. He didn't know if that was an unknowingly intention behind his selection in women, but it was there in the way they felt about their children and Hassan couldn't stand a bitch that didn't fuck with her own kid. It was about the same as spitting in your face to him and he wasn't having that shit." They were terrible mothers, and the only thing that saved them from being discarded by Hassan were his children. They all resided under one roof, creating unimaginable drama for days on end. "My kids gotta be together, O and unfortunately, I have a habit of fuckin' damaged ass hoes."
Nina walks us through the birth of every Porter: Kyle, Lake, Rushon, Avant, Demetrius and Dayvion. Their upbringing and the many lessons that come with being a man ill-equipped to raise four boys on his own. "One day shit gon' happen and you'll hear my voice in the back of your mind, remember a time where I told you what to do in a certain situation if you ever find yourselves lost." Readers get to see Hassan grow right along with his kids, loving them the only way he knew how. They'll also see Hassan in love, a man that felt he never deserved love. "I love you too. You keep my head above water even when I think I'm drowning. You gave me Lake. My everything, O." We'll see why the boys have such terrible relationships with their mothers. And most importantly we'll see the evolution of Mucci. "'Listen,' Hassan snatched her back. 'We for life, ard?' You pushed your way into my fuckin' space now you got it. You got what you been chasin' all these years... I... I don't trust nobody else... you all I have.'"
This book was wild. But as stated previously, after reading the Front St. series, nothing was really shocking, to me at least. The story and the characters were layered. Generational curses, soul ties, addiction, violence, mental illness. All issues that plague many families, but rarely anyone ever discusses. This book was top tier as far as entertainment, but also left me feeling sad. Sad that it was over and sad for the characters. I even felt bad for Mucci for a split second. I enjoyed every single page. I couldn't read fast enough and was reading too fast all in the same breath. When I started the book, I was indifferent about Hassan, I didn't love or hate him. But by the end, I loved that poor tortured soul. "How can the dead be truly dead when they live in the souls of those who are left behind?" But there's light at the end of every tunnel.