Love's Troubadours

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Review by Donald Bernard 

I just completed Ananda Leeke's Love's Troubadours book while we were vacationing in St. Kitts. What a setting to enjoy her book. I really like the way she structures and tells her story. It was interesting, intriguing, funny and soooo like many people I know. While reading Love's Troubadours, I wished that I had been more aware of the many other spirits that were available when I was becoming a young man. But I guess I always knew that the supreme being would take care of everything.  Not being naive would have been a little more exciting. It would have given me more awareness and maybe a bit more spice of knowledge. Thank your for the gift. Good Luck.  Congratulations and continued success.  You know, I think your book is viewed as a "CHICK" book. But I found it sooooooo rich. It is rather wonderfully full of information that most people can benefit from. I liked one of the closing lines "Let a Brotha court you." If I were younger and courtin' I would steal your line. 

Donald Bernard, a visual Artist based in Photography, Quilter, and Part-Time
Art Instructor at Marymount Women University, California State University in Los Angeles, CA, Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, CA, and San Bernardino Valley Community College

Review by Karla Borders-Pope stirs up everything that chic brown girls love – so why not include book reviews! We all love a good read so I've decided to occasionally incorporate book reviews into the mix. First up, Love's Troubadours: Karma: Book One, by Ananda Kiamsha Madelyn Leeke. If you haven't heard of this extremely talented self-published author yet, trust me you will. Leeke's debut novel tells the inspiring story of a young woman named Karma who loses her two most prized possessions – her artsy career and her ideal cosmopolitan life in New York City. Although her broken spirit sends her on a downward spiral of self-doubt, depression and confusion, she is awakened by revelations that allow her to see that jobs and enviable lifestyles do not define her true purpose. Love's Troubadours is a well-written journey of introspection sprinkled with musical references that will make you take a closer look at your own life and recognize the importance of accepting one's self for who you are. The book also demonstrates how the human spirit can prevail over any circumstance with the support and love of confidantes, family and friends. The next time you're in the mood to curl up on a comfy couch for a good read, grab Love's Troubadours, – it will not disappoint. 

Karla Borders-Pope is a writer and founder of Brown Girl Gumbo.

Review by  Tim'm T. West

In Leeke's debut novel "Love's Troubadours" the protagonist, Karma, offers a herstorical roadmap towards self-actualization and healing. It is a process that boils from the bottom up. The seeming calm sea of her performatively perfect lineage is the deferment and inevitability of Katrina. Karma finds herself in the disastrous muck of of a reality that cannot be guised by any ruse of happy prosperity and buppie elitism.

Karma's world is a post-pomo one where bougie boho and bap struggle, not as conflicting or schizophrenic identities, but identities seeking hopeful coexistence. This is the dilemma of the Negro who has betrayed both Dubois' talented tenth or Booker T's vocational ambition for whatever lies in-between. It is a new freedom not bound to the old Negro logic, but passionately committed to facing the brokenness and dysfunction of our lineage. We have always committed adultery, flirted with homosexuals, been depressed, needed more than salvation or heaven, and been more broken than we are willing to admit. Karma's story is the stench of Pandora's box finally released. It is the redemptive power of an exhale after one has truly grappled with the "in hell". It is Ms. Celie's letters discovered and giving birth to a new woman, always there, but needing permission through truth to live more truthfully. It is the ironic powerful destitution of the D.C. streets through which Karma confronts her yellow brick road.

In Leeke's detailed and vulnerable journal of a journey, we are reminded that, however wealthy or educated we become, we, like Karma, carry blood memory in our veins: it is the slave's spiritual, it's Billie's reverberating pitch, it is Miles' wail that, translated as words, would have better explained his blues. Karma's wandering lands her at a borderland where neither nostalgia for her past, nor projections of a future less certain than her education and privilege would care to admit, are comfort enough. The loves of her life become directional cues to her own journey home into a self-love that she can only find through the reality of her depression and psychological disarray. Her successful mapping requires that she fully undergo a self-archeology. Karma exercises an anthropology of self-- a deep digging into closets where dirty laundry is long overdue a nice thorough hand-washing and clothesline dry. If Leeke's story can be criticized for offering excessive detail into the life of its protagonist, it succeeds because it treats nothing in our living as insignificant: the songs we listen to, the shoes we buy, the people we see on the street, the buildings we want into and out of, are changed, as we are, thorough the interaction.

While Leeke's stumbling and unfailingly human protagonist uncovers the disjunction between her bougie upbringing and her resistance to the pretending it requires, the places, people, music, and art of Karma's life become the yellow brick road to her home. In Love's Troubadours, love is both noun and verb, both the thing we are and thing we do, when we can bravely face how tragically absent it is when we simply pretend we have it and do not. Leeke offers a vulnerable, exacting, and empathetic story of a real sistah who, up to the very last page, is still figuring it all out. Reading it, I am given a virtual comrade in my own journey through the wars my body and spirit have overcome in my becoming.

Tim'm T. West
Author of "Red Dirt Revival", "BARE", and "Flirting"

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