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Book Review on Thirty by Rae Lyse


Andre has been Inmate 962659 since he was sixteen years old, but to us, since the introduction of The Endgame. He’s a mysterious character that seems wise beyond his years. He has three rules to live by, rules his father, Cory, gave him. Take care of your girl, flex ya' mouthpiece and break 'em. Thirty is his story, a love story to be exact. A story so deep I was tricked into thinking it was a slow burn, when in fact, this 401-page work of art is an insta-love story that’s guaranteed to burn deep in the toughest reader’s soul. “'I break ‘em.’ He swallowed. 'After that, they always belong to me. It’s how the game goes.'"

Andre's real family was untraditional. Born into a family that consisted of a mother, father and two brothers is what some may have considered his real family. But Thirty Gang was his REAL family. “'And free my lil’ Thirty nigga, Dre’-Money,' Nuney rapped with Dominic. 'They know not to play ‘cause he keep a…'” His decision to make the ultimate sacrifice as a teenager got him life in Georgia State Prison. "I had to protect him because that greatness gone carry our family to places, we could never imagine. There wouldn't be no Mr. Everything if I would've folded." Until Josiah hired him a Black Jesus, and was granted clemency, freeing him back into an unfamiliar world. Things are different, very different, for Dre, and like any other newly released inmate, he has to figure out life on the outside, but other inmates don't have Josiah Joseph aka Mr. Everything in their corner. At his welcome home party, his eyes land on "a tiny ball of energy with a mop of curls on her head she'd dyed blonde, and hands that fingered other girl's lower backs." She had his curiosity piqued, and not even Cory's three rules could keep Natasha from creeping into his heart. "He'd tell him how unwise he'd been to get lost in such a distracting girl and how immature he was for still living by Cory's archaic rules."

Natasha appears to be a care free girl, a try-sexual living her life unattached and having fun. "You're attracted to souls, Tash. Ain't nothing wrong with that." But she’s a scared little girl fighting demons from her past and yearning for the acceptance of her parents. "She good at makin' herself seem invincible, but my baby just a baby-she my fearless dancer, Dri’s favorite doll, and she make this fucked up world a lot less scary." She thought she wasn't attracted to men, until she laid eyes on Dre-Money. Something in his green eyes spoke to her soul. Growing up in a suburban neighborhood and a religious family didn't equip her to deal with a Thirty nigga, but with Josiah's words of wisdom and Cory's first two rules being thwarted into her life, she's learning. "Andre made her heart beat in a slow bop at the sight of him with a gun to someone's head, made her seek him out although she knew he'd ruin her, and he made forbidden things feel good like heavy swats to her wandering hands." That paired with Kristin's Baby Momma Politics, Tash appears to be ready to be a big girl, but until she confronts her past, readers and Andre know, she's just a scary lil' girl.

If you love JoJo as much as I do, he's all up and through this story. I didn't realize how much I missed him until cracking open this book. He's still taking care of his family the best way he knows how, but the stakes are higher now. He's been drafted in the NFL to play for the Atlanta Falcons and not even my love for the New Orleans Saints could make me turn my back on him. With Dre being back in the real world, readers get a closer look into their friendship and get to appreciate their dynamics a little bit more. "You always been a G lil' brother."

Audriana was also one of my favs from The Endgame. She's an old woman trapped in an eight-year-old's body, and I love that about her. "I ain't gone always be here to protect him, Tash. So I try to teach you because when I leave, he gone need somebody to keep him safe and take care of him." At times, she appears to have more wisdom than the adults she's surrounded by, but Dre has done an excellent job at giving his baby the game, making her tough and equipped for the cruel world.

Rae Lyse has a way of penning a story so beautifully, readers can easily get lost in a 400-page book, and feel it isn't long enough. This chaotic love story was beautiful and traumatic all in the same breath. By the time I reached the 75% mark I was fighting back tears. I was so caught up in these characters, their separate stories, and the love I knew they so desperately needed. I felt as if I was a part of Thirty Gang, their 'family' and the love and protection that their 'family' provided. The inner workings of the story had me wondering if Rae had lived a similar story, or if her research was just that impeccable to make readers feel what needed to be felt. Before reading this book, I didn't know I needed Andre's story, but I'm glad she decided to give it to us. Bravo Rae Lyse, I can't wait to see what you have up next.


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