What I’m Reading: Vanessa Morris

Vanessa Morris

Vanessa Irvin Morris, an assistant teaching professor of library and information science at the iSchool, College of Information Science and Technology, said she’s been waiting for answers from author Sister Souljah for over a decade. Now, after reading Souljah’s A Deeper Love Inside: The Porsche Santiaga Story, she finally has the answers she’s been waiting for.       

She teaches public and youth services and is the foremost expert on the literary genre, street literature or more casually known as "street lit," a topic on which she regularly blogs.

Why did you chose this book and what is it about?

I chose this book as part of my participation in the Pennsylvania African American Library Association Librarians’ Book Club and because of my abiding interest in street lit stories. This novel is the sequel to Sister Souljah’s classic street lit text, The Coldest Winter Ever. A Deeper Love Inside chronicles the story of the character Winter’s younger sister, Porsche. In this story we learn what was going on with the rest of Winter’s family while she was going through her experiences in The Coldest Winter Ever. So this novel, A Deeper Love Inside, is a parallel account of the outcomes of the Santiaga family’s demise.

What do you find particularly enjoyable/ important about this book?

What was enjoyable about this book was the intellectual and emotional insight that Souljah employed in telling Porsche’s story. In this approach, Souljah shows respect for her readers—that they will imbue the important and meaningful twists and turns in the characterization of Porsche that surprises, shocks and leaves you breathlessly sad. This is a joyful reading experience because of these kinds of emotions that are evoked from connecting with Porsche. Souljah paints Porsche into your soul—uncompromisingly so—Souljah makes you look and really see Porsche. Porsche’s voice, presence and existence as a complicated, multi-faceted human being cannot be denied in this story.

What is important about the novel is that it is deeply introspective about the trauma children experience when their families are obliterated due to the dysfunctional lifestyles of the adults, which all too often results in legalized oppressions that are enacted on children by a society that only marginally accommodates their traumatic abandonment, at best.

So far, has it lived up to your expectations?

Oh yes; very much so. Sister Souljah has finally given her readers what they have been waiting for; she answers all the questions fans have been asking for over a decade. However, Souljah’s views on the maturity of children—what they think and understand at young ages, what they can handle and navigate at certain ages due to certain life experiences—remains controversial due to our American sensitivities to the abilities and understandings of people under the age of 18. Souljah contextualizes children with a global sense. Once readers understand that Souljah is deeply humanizing children when she does this, the critiques of the activities in which she has her characters engaged might enjoy a broader understanding.

Is there a particular quote/ passage that you find particular interesting and why?

Well, I don’t want to say because I don’t want to give the story away.  But I will say this: A Deeper Love Inside is a very important read for gaining a nuanced understanding as to why children grow up to become the adults they become. Period.