VIRGIN SOUL by Judy Juanita

Grabbed this book cuz of the title and cuz it had to do with the Black Panthers. And Virgin Soul really is an excellent novel about a young woman figuring things out during college. It’s separated into sections like that–freshman, sophomore, junior, senior. Like me, Geniece went to a local college first then transferred to a state university (well mine wasn’t state but we both transferred). And went to grad school after.

Anyway, Geniece is a great narrator. She’s trying to find her way, and she specifically doesn’t want to be naïve to what goes on. She meets a guy early on who quickly gets her involved in the revolution. He destroys her books and tells her to read ones by James Baldwin and Paulo Freire and the like. That’s her first real relationship and lover and all that and he’s alright, but eventually he goes to a new school and so does she.

Geniece ends up getting even more radicalized at that school, where she continues to write journalistic pieces for school and for the Panthers. Her writing is also of interest to me because she has great ideas and is essentially writing through her thoughts. She begins messing with a new guy who sucks (tho he is relevant to the organization). She also tutors young kids and finds herself in offhanded situations and then gets pregnant. Like yea that’s pretty much how it goes.

Best line:

“Individual freedom and hippies and Black Panthers and Blackness with a capital B and Robert Williams and armed struggle and Martin Luther King Jr., and Bull Connor’s hoses and snarling dogs and tie-died clothes and African art and Aretha Franklin and lava lamps and bell-bottoms, miniskirts, and Fillmore West–it all began to mere. I was beginning to suspend categorization. I couldn’t cross people and incidents off the list as casually as i had done before. Right and wrong, good and evil, those categories couldn’t hold a candle with what was compelling, educational, eye opening. My eyes were being propped open, wider every day in San Francisco. Sometimes every hour.”

-Judy Juanita

-Rachel Wagner


My books: 
– Jacob’s Hip: Poems
– FEM: New Millennium Beauty & Fashion
– Abandonment Issues: Alive in New Jersey
– Back Like I Never Left: Dating as a Single Mother

My bookstore: Ten Dollar Books

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