I took a detour from my usual suspense and horror novels to read the debut novel Imagined Love by Diamond Drake. Although it's not in the normal sense a thriller, I found each page to be more thrilling than the one before. I could not take my eyes off of this novel centered around some of the most interesting characters I've read about in a long time.
Imagined Love opens with the plot primarily centered around Willa Caldwell. She is desperately trying to make sense of the horrible situation she's put her daughter Jade and herself in. Initially the storyline follows the beautiful Willa then shifts to our real heroine Jade. Jade is wise beyond her years because of the home she was raised in. Although this causes her to be a strong, determined woman, it leaves it's marks on her psyche and she develops issues of her own.
Diamond Drake supplies the reader with a plethora of characters. Some forgettable, but most of them not. These characters introduce a host of contentions but also provide good insight that helps our main characters, Jade and Willa, really tackle the obstacles that are in their way. Matters such as abuse, rape, teen promiscuity, love children, welfare queens, life and death, and severely detrimental relationships. As layer after layer is shed, both Jade and Willa develop and become characters we would like to have a drink with some day just to shoot the breeze with and wonder how they made it through.
Jade takes over the plotline during the second half of the book. I realized once she became the starring character that much of the first half seemed a little rushed because it was really laying down the background to the woman who is also the leading lady in For The Love of Jade (sequel to Imagined Love). Readers are able to sympathize with Jade's struggles because of the amount of depth given to her homelife before becoming an adult. Her trust issues, guilt, and moments of low self esteem are given validation.
Ultimately, I can't wait to read more by Diamond Drake. I have For The Love of Jade on ice right now. I am reminded of all my favorite authors when reading Imagined Love. Readers of Terry McMillan, Omar Tyree, and Eric Jerome Dickey are who I'd recommend this novel to. The exploration of relationships, love, and moving on with Jade is a journey not to be missed. ****