Reviewed by Lillet Williams
TAGS: Dexter Shaw, 1st World Publishing, extramarital affair, murder
Confessions of a Side-Piece Baby, the debut novel by Dexter Shaw, was disappointingly messy. The title of the book was misleading; this reviewer thought it was going to be about the discovery or shame of the main character, Lashaun Johnson, knowing he was the product of an extramarital affair, or even the struggle of having a relationship with his father because of his being with his main family. Instead, it had everything to do with Lashun being a womanizing criminal who seemed to have a conscience only when it helped him get what he wanted, which was usually sex.
Lashaun Johnson’s character was unsympathetic. The impression given is that he was an adrenaline junkie based on all of the crimes and murders he allegedly committed, but it was hard to believe that a boy his age would and could kill so many people--including his own mother-- without any type of backlash or even remorse. The author obviously tried create an affinity for him, but the only time this reviewer felt anything but disgust was when the plot revealed that he suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome, following a violent rape during his first prison stint at age seventeen. Unfortunately for the reader, by the time Lashaun actually talks about his parents and their negative effect on his life, the has already come across as unlikeable and an attention seeker.
There were parts of the book that came across as unbelievable; for example, when Lashun was arrested for murder and left unattended in a police car, with the windows rolled down to the point he could and would actually escape while the officer went inside the building. Instances like this made this reviewer feel dumber with each chapter. There was also a lack of editing which distracted from an already terrible storyline; the grammatical and spelling errors caused this reviewer to re-read some passages more than once to make sure they were correctly understood. There was a lack of development in the characters of Lashun’s parents, which is interesting since their actions had such a strong effect on Lashun’s life. There was one chapter about his father, and it ended with Lashun killing him, and neither of them even acknowledging that they knew they were father and son. The one thing that stood out in each chapter was that the author made it very clear to always state a female character’s weight and height, and detailed description about her looks. However, he did not even give that much description to Lashun, his main character.
The book read less like a cohesive unit, and more like a collection of wild and crazy stories that the author tried to weave together into one person’s life. Each chapter was about a different person or event in Lashaun’s life, which was intended for the reader to piece together in order to get a picture of who this man had become. Some of the chapters were difficult to imagine because there was no clear timeline of when in Lashun’s life these events happened, so there was no true frame of reference; this was in contrast to other parts of the books, where Lashun’s age was clearly stated. The pièce de résistance was that, at the end of a book filled with sex, drugs, and gruesome violence, there was a public service page regarding domestic violence. This is not surprising, since the author has written academic articles and taught seminars on the subject. All in all, this reviewer would not recommend Confessions of a Side-Piece Baby. Hopefully, the author will do better with his next novel.
Lillet Williams, MBA has worked in the mental health field as an administrator for over 15 years. She currently lives in Maryland with her almost 12 year-old son, is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and is working on another master’s degree in Human Resources Management. She enjoys traveling, reading, and science fiction movies.