The novel started very strongly for me, with the opening scene immediately commanding both my attention and my empathy. A black mother listens at the back of a crowded school hall, while bigoted white parents take to the stage in turn, to voice their concerns about the prospect of students from a deprived area being given access to their school. While they wring their hands and come up with various reasons why this is all a bad idea, the mother’s two daughters are listening in obvious discomfort. I felt uncomfortable myself, cringing on their behalf. Things seem to work out for this family for a while though. The younger daughter, Kenni, gets into the school, and before long the white parents realize they had very little to be upset about. Meanwhile, the older daughter Nicole is accepted as an intern by white lawyer Richard, after his wife politely points out that he only ever seems to hire white people. Things start to unravel when Kenni is then told she has to go back to her old school on a technicality, and whilst in the middle of trying to fight this decision, the mother goes missing. The novel quickly then propels the older daughter Nicole into main character status as she is forced to accept responsibility for her younger siblings, get Kenni back into the good school, and find out what happened to their mother, all while trying to work, go to college and keep on top of things as an intern.
At this point, despite a little too much ‘telling’ every now and then by the author, I was enjoying the story very much. I believed in the characters, and wanted everything to work out for them. Nicole is a great protagonist, and it was interesting to see the journey Richard went on as well. On the surface he has a perfect life as a successful lawyer, but it turns out he has his own demons too. These come to light when his estranged brother turns up asking him to come and visit the rehab clinic he has set up. It is obvious that the brothers have chosen very different paths in life, but why is that, what does Richard need to face from his past, and can they be reconciled once he has?
As Nicole struggles to find out what happened to her mother, Richard tries very clumsily to help her, whilst dealing with his own issues. As I mentioned before, every now and then I felt like there was too much ‘telling’ and not enough ‘showing’ in the story. However, it was not enough to irritate me, and as the book was otherwise well written, with great characters and dialogue, I was able to get past it. On the plus side, this book is a well thought out and executed examination of modern class and race divisions in America. It has believable characters, who you begin to really care about.
On the down side, the book was too short for me. I felt like the section where Richard tries to counsel a young alcoholic called Ben at the clinic went on too long, and the book seemed to end too abruptly after this. This part was well written and interesting, don’t get me wrong, but it seemed to take everything off on a tangent, away from Richard and his character. This would have been fine if the book had been longer, as there would have been the time to get to know this new young character, to identify and empathize with him. I could see how his own personal tragedies had an impact on Richard coming to terms with his own, however, I just couldn’t help feeling a little short changed that the book ended so soon after this. It was not a poor ending, nor was it unrealistic, I just felt like it came too soon. It was as if by the time I had gotten to understand the characters and learned their back story, it was all tied up and over. It is, however, a credit to the author that I felt like this about his characters. They were too good, and I simply wanted more.
On the whole, this was an enjoyable and well-written novel. It examines timeless themes of social inequality, prejudice, and the very human urge to keep hoping and trying for that second chance.
"Why are people so committed in this battle against fellow Americans?" While that's an early question posed in Second Chances, it's also the crux of a story about strife and struggle in the life of Nichole. She is ready to graduate from high school when friction over racial issues brings livid parents into a town meeting to display a generalized prejudice and fear of threats to the educational and social system. It quickly becomes evident that undercurrents of prejudice are directed at her family.
After painting a simple portrait of Nichole and her kin, the second chapter jumps ahead a year and introduces Richard, a married attorney who has moved from courtrooms to mediating business legal conflicts. His decision to move away from his role as a public defender into situations less dependent on an uncertain legal system hasn't, unfortunately, lead to peace. Nichole has applied to work as an intern in his office and her race is, in this different situation, a benefit because of Richard's desire to help deserving minorities by giving them professional opportunities.
These two very different lives change drastically, and suddenly their focuses and carefully-built stabilities are gone. Nichole is unexpectedly saddled with family responsibilities that will challenge her goals, while Richard faces a series of crises that come to include Nichole primarily because she's the most brilliant intern he's ever had, and her changing life could threaten both her future and his choices in ways neither could imagine.
Entwined decisions, consequences which ripple out from their initial influences and circles of family and friends, and the harsh lives of some of the kids Richard encounters all become part of a bigger picture in a thought-provoking read about what constitutes success and how failure can thwart all positive achievements.
The various protagonists are consistently clear about their motivations, influences, and lives: "How the hell are you supposed to make friends when your mom is a drunk and your Dad left? We were outcasts, shunned by everyone we met. I didn’t have any friends, and I didn’t really want any either. I was just fine being alone, and if those assholes didn’t want to hang out with me that was just fine." Readers thus receive a healthy dose of social insight throughout the story line.
It should be noted that the insights on educational system pressures, structure, and choices are particularly well done. Lincoln Cole's approach (of having events move back and forth in time) could have proved confusing; but plainly marked chapter headings place these timelines in clear perspective and the recurring theme of what constitutes a 'second chance' (and when such is solicited or given) unites the various protagonists' perspectives and stories ("I’ve been sleepwalking for years, making the right decisions for the wrong reasons. Now, I want to start making those decisions for the right reasons.")
The result is a vivid saga of racial and social situations that's highly recommended for readers seeking a story that revolves around changing hearts and minds and positive character growth.
In Second Chances by Lincoln Cole, for a long time life had been a struggle for Nichole and her family. But her mother would sacrifice anything to give her kids a chance at a better life. Whenever one thing seemed to be going right, another problem would arise; the latest and most disastrous of all being her mother's disappearance which left her and her three siblings to fend for themselves. Nichole, who had just landed an internship position at a top tier law firm, decided not to disclose this information to her boss as this would most certainly mean her being fired. But how long will she keep her mother's absence a secret, especially since the absence meant her quitting school and hence violating the one condition on which her internship depended.
Second Chances by Lincoln Cole is a true portrayal of the social issues that divide us and keep us from moving forward together as a people. It is a story of a family that just can't seem to catch a break and a reminder to us all of how tough life can get sometimes, and to never lose hope even during the darkest of times. Richard's part of the story tells an important tale of healing one's soul through healing others; by reaching out to others, listening and offering our support, we too can achieve purpose and heal our souls. Second Chances is a clear depiction of the issues and misconceptions that hold us back. It makes you dream of a better world for us all; one where we are not defined by race or gender, but rather by our skills and capabilities. One where we all get along as equals, irrespective of race or status
SECOND CHANCES leads the readers on a roller coaster of emotions while simultaneously reflecting on problems that face today’s society.
Nichole is an underprivileged young Black American woman who aspires to become an attorney. Despite the many obstacles she must overcome to do so she is determined to succeed. But with the odds already against her, she is hit with a hard blow when her mother goes missing. Now, on top of her many other commitments, she finds herself caring for two younger siblings who are counting on her to make sure they are given every chance at a good life. Nichole knows all too well that racial bias can sometimes dictate the outcome for families in situations such as her own. Maintaining a cautious reserve she does her best to juggle her many responsibilities. Not knowing who to trust, she struggles to find a balance between muddling through on her own and learning to trust and accept help from others.
Lincoln Cole offers a heart-rending perspective into the struggles realized by those who are oppressed by prejudice and bias. Cole addresses relevant concerns facing so many people today. His book, Second Chances, brings the reality of such issues to light, helping readers observe that the opportunities many people take for granted may not come as easily to some.
Second Chances, is recommended for home and school libraries and has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.
Second Chances by Lincoln Cole is a fictional heart-felt look into the inner-city world through the eyes of two very different sets of characters. Lakeisha and Nichole Blake, a mother and daughter respectively, live the consequences centuries of American racism has created. Lakeisha is fighting for a better future for her four children, despite the immense barriers she faces. Nichole, a brilliant teen, wants nothing more than to earn a law degree despite the poor high school education she received. The complex issues she faces though will make this harder than it should be. Meanwhile Richard Greenwood, a well paid corporate lawyer, seems to have forgotten the struggles the world faces, especially those just beyond his front door. After spending an evening with his estranged brother, he learns the importance of giving to the impoverished communities and fixing his own biases. Both characters learn the problems facing the inner city and minorities in drastically different ways, while also seeing how hope and partnership can help raise all of us up.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author not only acknowledges the problems facing both the impoverished class and people of color, but writes advice to those who wish to help into the narrative; all while telling a beautiful story. Though the issues facing these groups are complex and could never be addressed in twenty books, the author does a good job touching on important -often overlooked- issues and presents a complete picture.
There are, however, a few issues that need to be addressed. The sentence structure in the first few chapters is lacking in areas, making the author’s ideas unfocused. There are also spelling and grammar errors throughout the text. These are not so often that they make the book unreadable, rather just often enough that they bring down the overall quality of the book. Furthermore a few of the characters in Richard’s chapters, including Richard, where rather whiney and it was not clear if this was intentional or not. This made me as the reader less sympathetic to them and more annoyed by them.
Despite these things, the book was a good read. The character’s plots were believable and the world well-explained. Nichole’s reactions were well thought-out and Richard’s micro-aggressions proved a great view point and plot line. The entire book felt complete and answered all questions. This novel received a 3 out of 4 because of the previously stated grammar mistakes as well as a few weak sections. Likewise, the story felt rushed at times. However, I do believe many people would find joy in the book and I recommend it.
Second Chances, despite being fiction, addresses some of the challenges of our time. It reviles the subtler forms of racism and classism some do not realize are a part of many American’s daily lives. While not an entirely sophisticated text, it is a pleasant way to spend one’s time.
Second Chances by Lincoln Cole is a story about journeys of self-discovery. It opens with a meeting held at a school in a white suburb that a judge has ruled must accept children bused in from a black neighbourhood. Lakeisha, a black widowed mother of four, witnesses the white parents’ objections when the meeting was called to plan how best integration could be implemented. How can she support her youngest daughter, who must cope with that attitude? Richard Greenwood went into law to help people and has become disillusioned; justice is for the rich. Lakeisha goes missing, leaving her eldest daughter, Nichole, a first-year law student, with the job of being mom to her younger brother and sister. Nichole, working as an intern at Franklin and Greenwood, asks Richard for help that he cannot legally give.
Lincoln Cole’s Second Chances is a powerful story that hooks the reader instantly. Mr Cole is to be congratulated on tackling a diversity of difficult issues and doing it well. Racial discrimination, the high cost of medical care, the judicial system, wife battering, child abuse and alcoholism: all of it within a story that never fails to entertain. The scene is brilliantly set from Lakeisha’s point of view but quickly moves on to the problems Nichole faces, and the sacrifices she is prepared to make for those she loves. Richard presents as a confident man, successful in his chosen career, but his contact with Nichole forces him to question the motives behind his life choices, and re-evaluate what made him the man he has become. This is indeed a story of second chances and I recommend it highly.
Second Chances by Lincoln Cole is a contemporary fiction novel that deals with many social issues relevant to our current times. When her mother disappears one day after going out to run an errand, Nichole is left to run the household and raise her siblings, all the while attending college and working as an intern at a prestigious law firm. Juggling these many responsibilities, Nichole is soon overwhelmed and doesn’t know where to turn. Richard, a friend, and the lawyer that gave Nichole the internship wants to help, but quickly finds that doing the right things for the wrong reasons isn’t always the best way to help. Nichole and Richard both find things going terribly wrong and quickly spinning out of control. Can they each give the other a second chance to overcome their obstacles?
This is a powerful book! Cole spins an intricate tale of love, loss, injustice, addiction, and heartbreak, captivating me from the first page until the very last sentence. It is a powerful story that is fully relatable and significant in today’s world. The depth of the characters allows the reader to become fully absorbed and invested in the outcomes. The social issues presented are important, and I appreciate the author’s use of blunt honesty as his characters tackle their hurdles one at a time. My thoughts keeps wandering back to the word powerful, as I feel it is the best word to depict the story, and in my mind I am underlining and bolding the word for emphasis. Powerful!
I highly recommend Second Chances. It is an unforgettable novel certain to entertain and enlighten readers and fans of all genres. Lincoln Cole is an extremely talented storyteller and as his newest fan, I look forward to seeing more work from him in the future.
Second Chances by Lincoln Cole is a novel about big issues: racial discrimination and injustice, alcoholism, spousal abuse, and struggling to survive when society is stacked against you. The novel begins with Lakeisha who is facing virulent racism at an elementary school. When Lakeisha goes missing, her daughter, Nichole, must start caring for her younger siblings and picking up the pieces of a shattered life. She works with Richard, an attorney who got into the job with good intentions but has steered away from helping the common good, and he’s facing a crisis of his own. Nichole’s problems force both of them to make some very hard choices, and they’re both in dire need of a second chance.
Second Chances may be an issue-laden novel, but it weaves these issues seamlessly into the book by virtue of the strength of Cole’s characters. Though it’s rife with social ills plaguing the current moment, the book doesn’t hit you over the head, as these are very real issues that people need to face everyday. It’s reminiscent of the Best Picture-winning film “Crash,” though thankfully subtler in its depiction of social problems than that film. This doesn’t read like a magazine article masquerading as a novel, it’s a fully-realized work of fiction through and through, which is a significant accomplishment. It’s not an easy read, but it’s an important one.
A weak point is the title, which is fairly generic for a novel that is anything but. Second Chances manages to be both entertaining and eye-opening. The novel will make you feel more socially aware and connected by book’s end.
Second Chances by Lincoln Cole is a fictional story about sacrifice, segregation and the importance of family. It starts with the lead character's mother mysteriously disappearing and Nichole assuming all the responsibility for her two siblings in her mother's absence. While in her first year of law school Nichole accepts an internship, but is unable to stay in school after the disappearance of her mother. Because one of the primary rules of the internship is for Nicole to also attend school, she is forced to stop attending to care for the needs of the home.
Richard is an attorney working within the firm where Nichole is completing her internship. He appears to have it all together and is soon faced with the choice to help Nichole or continue within his lackluster life. When Nichole finally admits that she feeling overwhelmed she goes to Richard for help, but he feels conflicted with helping because of his own ethics within the law field. Nichole makes Richard question his own motives for being an attorney and wonder if helping Nichole would be a good idea for him professionally and personally.
The novel is a true example of family struggles, and how things are never really as bad as they seem. Lincoln Cole grabs the readers' attention from the very beginning of the story with the tone and suspicion of the first few chapters. The struggle of the family was easy to identify with because the plot was realistic and definitely made the reader ask themselves if a second chance would even be possible. This novel is a great read and I would recommend five out of five stars. Very well written book. I loved it!
I'll be signing copies of Second Chances and my other works on March 13th at the Book Loft in German Village, in Columbus, Ohio. Come out and say 'hi'!
Second Chances has earned Finalist Distinction in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards. On April 1st they will announce the winners, so here's hoping it performs well!
SECOND CHANCES leads the readers on a roller coaster of emotions while simultaneously reflecting on problems that face today’s society.
Second Chances has won the New Apple Book Award for the Visionary Category as the solo medalist winner!
Second Chances has earned Honorable Mention distinction in the Great Southwest Book Festival for 2016!
Second Chances was chosen as a Pitch Perfect Finalist by Underground book reviews and will be duking it out on social media next week to be the Pitch Perfect Pick. Thanks everyone for their support!
Second Chances has won the Regional Excellence Book Awards in the category of Midwest Fiction. This is the second award competition it has won, and it is a finalist in a third competition. Over the coming months we will hopefully see more victories like this!