I consider a good read to be one that motivates me to take action during or after reading. While enjoying Cold, a novel by A.D. Carson, I found myself writing poetry, thinking more in-depth about the college experience, and reflecting on the dynamics of romantic relationships. Cold is a multi-media literary piece that combines a novel, poetry, and a hip-hop album to present a coming of age story that has rarely been expressed.
I was impressed with the literary package of Cold which led me to think about what factors play a role in people’s choice to read a piece of literature, buy a CD, or take the next step in a visual design. With so many books on the shelf and music on the internet, each presentation has to catch the attention of a potential reader, and Cold was already succeeding in my eyes.
Other facets of the book that caught my attention were the writers’ placement of memories, technical book aspects, and the infusion of poetry and rap songs. The author A.D. Carson describes the novel as a concept album on paper. He reminds readers to make their own rules in writing not only with the multi-media format, but by placing the forward in an unconventional location.
“I put the foreword after chapter one because it is part of the novel. I think that there are many times when people start reading a book without reading the foreword or the prologue or the epilogue. I’ve always been the person who reads everything in a book just to be sure that I didn’t miss something. In this case, if a person doesn’t read the foreword, the prologue, epilogue, or the critical essay/notes, they will miss quite a bit. So the foreword appearing where it does is like a hint that it’s rather important…it’s a part of the story. “ A.D. Carson
Cold is a gumbo of communication, not only because of its inclusion of rap, poetry, and novel, but the foreword and epilogue are academic. When I think about the target audience of who this book can best serve (transitioning men of color), I immediately see the need for academic critique included in the piece. The stories are easily relatable- drugs, alcohol, jail, college, high school, women (Black and white)- Black people, people of low-income, and anyone who ever decided to trash their silver spoon or entitlement crown will identify with characters in the story and the lyrics.
The novel is very intimate. I read in private and felt as if A.D. had written the story directly to me; that I was the only person he was willing to reveal these secrets to. One of the most prolific statements from the novel was during the transition between high school and college. A.D. wrote, “I can’t decide whether drugs ruined my life or saved it.” Personally growing up in communities and a family where drug addiction and exposure to drugs was prevalent, I understood exactly what he meant. Developing men are forced to make choices EVERYDAY that stick them between a rock and a hard place. These decisions affect the ENTIRE family and lead to a cycle of, abuse, love-hate, coping in which understanding is required to heal; Cold is the product of this cycle.
Many coming of age stories usually end at high school, begin at college, or start somewhere else, but Cold navigates readers through all three very important transitions, providing insight on Black males and their decision making influences in contemporary urban settings. Rites of passages continued to come to mind as I read the story. Each stage of life was a struggle and the next stage was only earned through perseverance and determination. A.D. provided clear transitions that allow readers to move with him to the next phase.
As a person in youth development, I plan to introduce this novel to teens and college students. Cold has the potential to draw young readers in while helping them push out negativity and doubt. A.D. Carson successfully romanticizes perseverance and academic attainment and that’s worth the read/listen.
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