It is a compilation of essays about all the things Candice wishes someone had talked to her about when she was a young black girl growing up in London. From family and money to black hair and fashion, as well as colourism and relationships between people of different races, this is a fascinating read that will launch some much-needed conversations, between Sistas and Sisters alike.
After her fantastic debut novel ‘I Am Not Your Baby Mother’, I ran (not walked) to pick up this book!
I adored Candice’s debut as it validated the Black British experience in motherhood. I am not a mother yet but my mum adored it. Motherhood is a predominantly white space and it needed diversity…so a voice that would speak up for the minority that are often overlooked, judged and victims of horrific experiences within the NHS, was incredibly important.
HOWEVER, Sista, Sister was incredibly different. Candice split her chapters into a variety of topics ranging from money, hair, colourism, death, love and friendship. I giggled in places, clicked my fingers in relatability and even grew incredibly sad. There was so much that Candice echoed in my own experiences that yet again, I just felt incredibly validated.
The clear cut, loving nature of her voice shines through her writing and is my favourite part about her books. For non-fiction, her writing is clear of judgement as she invites you to relate/understand her experiences. She sounds almost like a friend or a loving Aunty. I’ve had issues with non-fiction in the past, as I struggle with the condescending/judgemental tone. Especially with self-help books.
So I appreciated that her writing was nothing like that.
My favourite chapters were Hair, Self-Love, Death, Family and Social Media.
This chapter was so so fulfilling.
Honestly, what a way to start a collection like this.
If you’ve read some of my previous reviews such as ‘Love is A Revolution by Reneé Watson’, you would know that I’ve discussed a Black girl’s hair journey before.
Before I go into this, I just want to point out that my journey with my hair has been quite different. I don’t have 4c hair and I’m not sure if I ever have. I’m not entirely sure where my hair sits on the spectrum but it still needs all the love and attention that a Black girl’s hair needs.
Nevertheless, Candice explains how the beauty standard has made Black girls relax their hair in the past. For those that don’t know what relaxer is, it’s a cream chemical rubbed into your scalp that is meant to create straight hair. Hair that we’ve been told is more manageable and easier to deal with than our own.
Hair that we began to associate with being more beautiful.
That chemical can damage your scalp and your hair if not done properly. It’s painful and many girls end up shaving off their hair to start again.
It’s a torturing cycle if not done correctly.
Candice explains how she would spend ages getting her hair done and the way society viewed her for having 4c hair was internalised. She also explains how transformative a Black girls’ hair can be and the confidence that comes with it.
It’s actually indescribable. I can’t begin to explain how I feel when my hair is freshly done. I feel like my face clears up. My confidence is on 100. I’m ready to take on the world.
It’s a beautiful feeling.
She details how eventually she just decided that she had had enough.
She wanted it all gone. Even though, she knew that it wasn’t the typical standard of beauty. It was her owning and making her own standard of beauty – something we should all do.
“I had chosen to free her from the tyranny of a white world’s expectations about how a Black woman’s hair should be – had in another way become a form of bondage, a security blanket.”
I thought it was so intriguing to see the mindset of Black men who refused to shave off Candice’s hair back in the day. They would make comments on her appearance that were infuriating.
But I loved how Candice didn’t let that stop her. Eventually, she decided that shaving off her hair was what she wanted to do. And with or without, she knew who she was.
I believe it was part of her journey to self-love and it was just refreshing to read about.
In conclusion, Black girls if you decide to wear a wig, have braids, shave off your hair, have locs, be natural…you’re still beautiful regardless of what society tells you.
That stuff is hard.
I say it all the time and I’ll say it again. Self Love is a never-ending journey. You go through so many fluctuations and as a Black woman facing the Eurocentric beauty standard…it’s a battle. Listening to Candice detail her own experiences felt like such a safe space.
Understanding that you deserve love is another journey in itself.
Candice explores how different people in her life expressed their love towards her. Through her grandfather to her husband, she details how difficult it was for her to understand it and most importantly, accept it.
She somehow manages to circle it round to make you realise that it was due to her own lack of self-love.
You learn from earlier chapters on hair, colourism and romantic love that Candice has had a hard and troubling time on her journey to self-love. So this chapter especially hits home as she talks about how she learnt to understand that she is worthy of love.
But what’s important is that self-love is constantly changing. You can’t expect it to be the same when you grow every single day. It’s important that how you express self-love changes with you.
I also love how Candice talks about loving others. It’s so easy to close yourself off to people when you’ve been hurt so many times, whether it’s by family, friends or even a significant other.
However, Candice details that expressing love compliments the feeling of being loved. The two go hand-in-hand.
It’s important to let people know that you care about them. As the next heading reiterates, life can be very short. If you love someone make sure to let them know.
“You are worthy of love as a child. You are worthy of love as an adult. You are worthy of love, period.”
I find death incredibly hard. I’m a Christian and I believe in God. However, I do struggle with how much it terrifies me. I’m sure many Caribbean children can relate with how open their grandparents and parents are when talking about it. I never understood it. It used to make me upset when my mum would bring it up.
However, Candice’s chapter made me understand. I understood why it needs to be talked about. The inevitability of it all means that we can run from it. Candice goes into such detail about grief that you’re swallowing a lump in your throat. Grief goes hand in hand with death. It’s something else that is inevitable and Candice details how sometimes you may never let go of your grief. It becomes a part of you for the rest of your life.
It’s a soul-wrenching moment of realising that love is timeless and the reason why grief doesn’t leave.
Leading on from the last heading, Candice explains the importance of expressing your love to someone. She says she doesn’t ever want anyone she loves to question how she feels about them.
Honestly, I completely agree.
It doesn’t matter how angry I am. I will push it aside to let the other person know that although I’m hurt or angry, I still love them. I won’t lie it’s hard.
It’s SO hard.
It’s a matter of pushing your pride aside and in all honesty, it’s something that only really comes out with family.
Actually, this makes the next heading even funnier.
This chapter made me flat out laugh.
There’s nothing else to say about it aside from Candice was only talking facts.
I loved the social media paragraph as I’m sure so many of us on bookstagram can relate to it.
The joys of the algorithm make it hard to enjoy posting at times. If I could tell you the amount of hours I put into this blog. I love what I do so I actually don’t mind. However, it can be extremely disheartening when you spent ages coming up with a creative post only for the algorithm to push it down so nobody sees it.
I could really go on about how Instagram are doing a disservice to small bloggers and creatives but I won’t. Only because for the sake of my own time, mental health and peace…I’ve let it go.
It’s easier said than done. I know that.
But eventually, you reach a mindset where you just decide that you cannot force yourself to post everyday because I’m exhausted after work. I can only do as much as possible. I want to show my little community my true authentic self and unfortunately, I can’t commit to everyday posting.
As much as I would love to.
Nevertheless, her chapter was a sharp reminder to never become focused on the algorithm. Post what makes you happy or what appeals to you.
Everything else will follow afterwards.
There were many chapters that I learnt a lot from such as colourism, love, money and manifestation. I don’t want to go into too much detail but it’s incredible how much passes you by. Candice made me stop and think about everything that’s happened in m life. But also reevaluate what needs to happen in the future.
All in all, I really enjoyed this non-fiction book from Candice. It was such a great read that I blew through it. Big up her every single time. I can’t wait to read what she does next.
She’s providing that safe space for a Black Caribbean British woman like me – and I’ll always be grateful.