Red Light Green Light by Margaret Johnson-Hodge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Red Light Green Light by Margaret Johnson Hodge is the story of Craig Stephens, a 40 something Crack addict, 43 days clean when the tragedy of 9/11 hits. He embarks on a journey to find his long lost love, a woman he has not been in a relationship with in over 20 years.
I can’t recall a book having me so emotionally, mentally and spiritually drained. But isn’t that the mark of a great writer? Their words seep into your soul and make you feel emotions, good or bad, for the main players in the story. To take the reader on a journey they otherwise would not experience. Well Red Light Green Light took me to the depth of drug addiction, a place I never ever want to go again and grateful it was on the pages of a book.
There were many times when I just wanted to turn the page and learn that Craig had OD’d, putting everyone in his path out of their misery. Loving, caring, looking out for a drug addict is as exhausting as being one. But with every page I held on to the hope that this time Craig would be stronger, this time he would do the right thing. Sometimes he did, and sometimes he didn’t.
The people in his corner were committed for the long haul. Brother Rahiem, his sponsor, Mrs. Raymond, his landlord who did her best to do for Craig what she couldn’t do for her own son, save him from himself. And his parents who would do whatever to save their son.
On his journey to find his lost love, Juliet “Gazelle” Sumpter, he crosses paths with her elderly grandmother and a host of strange neighbors. Everyone seems to need from Craig something he can’t give them, which only feeds into his need for his next hit of the pipe.
At first I thought this story would be about unconditional love and a love that stands the test of time, and maybe it was. But in the end it felt more about needing and taking to ward off loneliness and feeling complete. Craig was not the nicest person; he was a user and felt the world owed him something although he never earned anything. After surviving the horror of 9/11 Gazelle struggles with her feelings for Craig, even after learning all the sordid details of what life as an addict really means. I felt she was more willing to forgive his transgressions to keep from starting over alone.
Johnson Hodge receives much praise for pulling this powerful story together. She is known for writing sequels to catch readers up on the characters in her books. I’m not sure what a sequel for Red Light Green Light would look like, but maybe just maybe Gazelle made the right choice in giving Craig and herself another chance at life and love.
Peace & Blessings,
Tracy L. Darity
2K13 Letters & Themes Challenge: Authors Whose Last Name Begins with J
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