Promise Broken follows a seventeen-year-old girl named Promise as she navigates a gang-controlled neighborhood where drugs and violence are part of the status quo. To survive, she must confront difficult choices that will shape her future for better or worse.
From the very first paragraph, I was captivated by this story. It begins with Promise in a sticky situation with her friend and the law, foreshadowing more conflict ahead when her aunt finds out what happened. And from there, Promise’s challenging life story and her limited options are showcased brilliantly and intimately in ways that made me both shudder and cheer her on. I was engrossed and invested in her and could not put this book down.
The narrative occasionally shifts to the perspective of Promise’s two friends, Mouse and Keys, showing how a life of drugs and crime can begin because of desperate situations and good intentions, which I thought was one of the most powerful threads in this book.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit disappointed by the ending. My only hope is that the author has a sequel planned, which is certainly probable given that most of K’wan’s books are part of a series, and there are a few threads in this book that Promise enough substance for an intriguing second book, so I will maintain hope and keep an eye out.
The ending wasn’t my biggest issue with this book, however. Every female character was sexualized to the point that none of them really contributed much to the plot besides being sexual objects for male characters.
I get that this is a real-world issue women face so it didn’t bother me right away, but I kept waiting for the author’s voice to come through in the narrative that sexualizing women is wrong, but I never got that sense. Even Promise, the main character, did not escape being viewed through this lens and her main arc revolved around her attraction to a guy who only sees value in women through sexual conquest. Promise even acknowledges this about him but doesn’t seem to mind that he’s sleeping around while actively pursuing her.
I did enjoy this book in spite of this issue. K’wan has a unique writing style that can reveal all the complexities of the situation to the reader without sounding boring or overdone. His characters, with their flaws and passions, are relatable and engaging, and you can’t help but want to know what happens to them, even when you wish you could leap through the pages and slap them at times.
K’wan’s Promise Broken will hit shelves on 15 March 2022 and is being published by Blackstone Publishing.
~MJ & Petey
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