Updated: Nov 15, 2022
If you're an OG reader like myself, you're probably missing Street Lit. The stories that are sans rainbows and butterflies but filled with grit. The stories where they're an escape from your reality, but possibly someone else's reality. Although these stories can probably be placed on the endangered species list, the reality of the situation is, as long as Tracy Brown is around, the genre will never be dead. Hold You Down is a character driven story that takes us through the rise and fall of a Black New York family at the start of the crack epidemic. Two sisters, Lenox, and Mercy, both single mothers with sons just trying to figure this thing called life out. "All we can do is play the hand we got dealt. Ain’t no do-overs in life. The only choice we have is to keep going. Y'all are still family. Whether you like it or not."
In the 90s, grandparents played a big part in their grandkid’s lives. For most, they were practically raised by their grandparents. Things were no different for Lenox and Mercy. Their mother was pretty much a stranger to them, leaving their upbringing in the hands of their grandmother. Like most grandparents, age can get in the way of them being as attentive as they could be. Lenox and Mercy's young pregnancies were evidence of that. Both sisters bore sons, Deon, and Judah, and were left to raise them without their dads. The sisters both had different visions for their own lives and their son's lives, but the endgame was the same. To make it out of the hood. Their mindsets and their actions impacted both of their sons in very serious ways and the rollercoaster ride Tracy takes you on to experience just that is almost gut wrenching. "I love you. But me and you are like night and day."
Part two of this story is led by Deon and Judah. Readers get to experience life as young Black men growing up in Staten Island. Although you may have an inkling of what they may go through, Tracy pulls out the magnifying glass, so readers are equipped with a better look. Dealing with a family disaster isn't easy for either cousin. While Judah is more level-headed and calmer, Deon is a hot head, that's a risk to anyone that's within a 15 mile radius of him. Art imitates life in this story and the phrase "When it rains it pours." is given a new meaning in this story. With disaster after disaster happening, the title of the book Hold You Down is really put to the test. "You ain't gotta thank me, Judah. We family."
I'm not gonna lie to y'all, this was a rough read. It's filled with tragedy, something most authors shy away from. There probably should be a page filled with trigger warnings at the beginning of this book, but there aren't any. Every single trigger warning would be a spoiler, and I don't know about y'all, but I did not want this story spoiled in any way. This book put the URBAN in urban fiction and it gave me nostalgia reading it. If I ever had to pick an author to make me cry, Tracy Brown would definitely be listed in my top three. If you want to read a well written book that will hurt you so good, look no further. This book will give you that and so much more.