Review: Trapped by Maria Hernandez

FF’s Star Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

I was a teen once, from a moderately dangerous place, and having lots of moolah and sexing our brains out was about all me and my boys talked about. Trapped by Maria Hernandez is a novella that I would love to put in the hands of the super dumb teenage version of myself, to enjoy, talk about with my boys and ultimately, to take to heart the subtle lessons that Hernandez tries to teach those crippled by their own delusions of being destined for fame, money, and sex.

Driving a 1990 Mitsubishi Galant, Angelina Rivera had been a hard-working, forty-five-year-old single Latina woman who worked for a mortgage company. That was until telling their clients the truth cost her her job. She got a nice severance package, and on a much brighter note, she had a new man in her life: a thirty-eight-year-old African-American male named Daryl James who was a former drug dealer, ex-convict on parole, and a self-published author. Together, they start a flourishing publishing company. But Daryl might not feel the same way about Angelina as she does about him. See, Angelia, she’s quite the meal ticket. And Daryl, well, he has his eyes on book sales.

The book starts with sex taking place on a rooftop somewhere in West Harlem, New York, around 11 PM, and the man and woman finding themselves looking at something that is sure to kill all thoughts of finishing what they started. Then we meet Angelina who has just moved back to East Harlem, New York. After getting some items for her mother at the supermarket, fate hands her a gift: an African-American male named Daryl James. “He was no Denzel Washington, but his large brown eyes and pearly white teeth complemented his cute smile.” The two get to talking and that’s when we learn that Daryl is a former drug dealer who got seven years after being busted and that he had written a book. Angelina gets herself a date for the next day.

Daryl, revealed to have a daughter, is a difficult man to like and I’ve seen little good in him. I’m a huge fan of hip-hop, so, though I’m not a thug as it were, I know how the song goes. Daryl, shortly before he and Angelina go on a first date, hooks up with a girl named Butta Face. Just a quick fix. Once officially with Angelina, I guess he tried to be a good guy to her and she had revealed the disappointments of her previous relationships to him, but then one of his boys puts DeeDee, a “chickenhead” down for whatever, in his life and so our former drug dealer author who had started dating a wonderful, attractive, and business savvy woman who his mother grows to like starts cheating. Aye plus es plus es plus hole equals…

Daryl has no idea who he’s messing with when it comes to Angelina Rivera, illustrated as a Latina who is very attractive despite dressing conservatively and being forty-five. “I’m just curious to know why a girl as fine as yourself is single?” This is asked by Daryl, and Angelina responds with: “Well, I can assure you it’s not because I’m some psycho chick.” As Daryl made me dislike him more with everything he said and did, I couldn’t stop smiling because Angelina might seem like a professional and together person to everyone that interacts with her, but the author made me wonder, is all I’m saying.

I could easily tell that Ana, Angelina’s mother, a former alcoholic who had been clean for fifteen years, cares about her well-being because, while watching her favorite Spanish game show, Angelina mentions that she’s going out with a friend and her mother lowers the volume so she can hear what her daughter has to say about this friend of hers. This protectiveness of Angelina’s mom is shown more than once, but is enough to make readers relate.

The author’s biggest asset is her characters because everyone of them, whether it’s to motivate the protagonist when she falls or to make the antagonist’s life more difficult than it needs to be, serves a purpose. Even DeeDee whose layers the author peals off to reveal an actual human being with feelings that can hurt. Ramona, Daryl’s mother, becomes a disappointment for the reader when she chooses to believe something that is not true. Budda, a friend of Daryl’s, is not as much of a friend to Daryl as he might think.

“Angelina checked her watch and noticed it was 8:45 p.m.” Just before Angelina and Daryl get it on for the first time, Daryl mentions that he’s on parole and that he has to be at home by nine o’clock. Daryl isn’t home at nine o’ clock. Daryl takes Angelina all the way to “a quaint, out-of-the-way motel” and the two “have sex in every position known to humans and a couple of positions Angelina didn’t even know existed.” It is 1:30 a.m. when they ready themselves to go back home. Hernandez doesn’t tell readers if Daryl had to come up with an excuse for his parole officer for not being at home when he was supposed to be or whether his parole officer was good enough a person to simply let it slide.

Maria Hernandez writes a novella that rings true for both the man and woman who knows a little something about life in what can only be coined as the hood. Though those sex scenes will certainly be enjoyable for the reader who loves these types of books, Angelina’s character teaches us a lot about not taking what you have for granted, to not hurt the people that care about you, to recognize the difference between a friend from an enemy, and last but not least, to pay more attention to sudden changes in the behavior of your loved ones.

All the Daryls of the world, I do hope you get to read this book so it can knock some condign sense into you. The nagging feeling that something big is going to happen propels the reader swimmingly through all the love, sex, heartache, stupidity, envy, manipulation and anger until the unexpected happens, which is but one of more shocking surprises as an impressive ending that can in no way be correctly predicted draws near.

Kindle Edition:

Publisher: Author
Date Published: October 22, 2016
Genre: Multicultural & Interracial
Pages: 150
View on Amazon
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