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Article first published as Book Review: ‘A Hand to Hold’ by Seconde Nimenya on Blogcritics.

December 28, 2015

A Hand to Hold
Seconde Nimenya
Aviva Publishing, New York (2016)
ISBN: 9781943164523

New novel shines a light on multicultural, middle-aged romance

A Hand to Hold by Seconde NimenyaIf you’re tired of reading fantasy romance novels with impossibly handsome hunks and unrealistic heroines, then try something a lot closer to reality. Wouldn’t you rather read about real people with real problems anyway, and learn how they overcome those problems?

Seconde Nimenya’s new novel A Hand to Hold offers just that—a story about characters living real life events in New York City and struggling to find happiness and a little romance in life. The heroine of A Hand to Hold is Adina Springfield, a middle-aged woman who was orphaned as a child in Ethiopia and adopted by an American couple. When the story opens, Adina has been divorced for a couple of years and is struggling to make ends meet as a single mother supporting her three children. When she loses her job, Adina is forced to ask her ex-husband, Charles Kumi, for financial help. Charles and Adina have a difficult past, so the last thing she wants to do is ask him for help, nor does he make things easy for her.

But Adina’s adoptive parents taught her to be resilient, and never ever to give up hope. She is also lonely, so with the encouragement of her girlfriends, she reenters the world of finding romantic relationships in the not-so-romantic space of Internet dating. But then unexpectedly, Adina meets a loving and caring man interested in her story. With a little courage on her part, this encounter leads Adina to her big career break and to second chances in a beautiful romantic relationship.

In this book, author Seconde Nimenya parallels real life events, exploring the cultural hindrances that rob many women and girls worldwide of their dignity. In that respect, Seconde writes about stories we can all relate to, and learn from.

To say more about the plot would be to give too much away. But what I found so enticing about this novel is how it weaves together the stories of the characters’ pasts and how those affect their present, so that the past is never really done for them, until they deal with it.

Through all her struggles, Adina remains haunted by the mystery around the deaths of her biological parents, and wonders who they were. She must find the courage to move forward into her future and to believe that happiness is possible for her before she can find the answers she has long sought. And when those answers arrive, they come from the most unlikely place.

In A Hand to Hold, Seconde does not settle for characters who are simply good or bad; instead, she creates a journey for them, one that encompasses their behaviors and the decisions they make.

In the end, the message of A Hand to Hold is similar to that which Seconde Nimenya previously expressed in her memoir, Evolving Through Adversity. We can overcome the problems that life throws our way if we don’t give up hope, if we choose our battles wisely, and if we keep moving forward despite all the odds, and remember always to treasure the gifts we receive.

I think there’s a little of Adina Springfield in all of us—someone who can face life’s obstacles but at the same time, longs for a hand to hold to make the journey a little easier. Adina finds that hand to hold in Ben Neman, and in the end, she inspires us all not to give up hope.

For more information about Seconde Nimenya and all her work, visit the author's website.

— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. and award-winning author of The Children of Arthur series

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