a novel by Tracey Michae’l Lewis

Reviewed by Maricia D. C. Johns

Maricia D. C. Johns is a published journalist, published poet, editor, motivational speaker and educator. She is a proud graduate of East Texas State University, which is now Texas A&M University Commerce where she received both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science Degrees. She is a columnist for one of the leading Black owned newspapers in Texas, The Fort Worth Black News. Maricia’s favorite topics are lifestyle issues, humor and education. Her columns have been published in an array of publications including The Longview News Journal and The Christian Index. Her editing credentials include works by Andre Johnson, Yolonda White, and her most recent editing work can be seen in the recently published novel by Hikia entitled “Shifted”. In addition, she is the proud owner of johnswriteme, a writing/speaking bureau. She has spoken at many different venues including, Jarvis Christian College, Tarrant County College, Black Retired Educators Association, East Texas Writers Guild and many more.

Maricia is a former business educator having taught students whose age’s range from 13 to 75. She is a certified AdvancED National Chair and was recently a grant reviewer for the Department of Education in Washington, DC. Her teaching does not stop there; she is a proud member of Carter Metropolitan C. M. E. Church where she teaches the Upper Junior Class. She is an active member of her community where she volunteers for such activities as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, the Cowtown Marathon, Fort Worth Library fest, the Victory Over Violence Walk and others. Maricia is a former member of the Forest Hill Library Board. She is also an active board member of the Tarrant County Aids Interfaith Network and the MORE Life Committee.

Maricia is an East Texas girl, who now calls Fort Worth, Texas home. She and her husband Leslie are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters. Maricia is an avid exerciser, and she sometimes even enjoys this activity. She has finished her one and only marathon. She is an avid traveler, and does enjoy this immensely.

Maricia would like to give a shout out to her former students, Velone Curley, Dr. Monica “Moe” Anderson and her friends Marvinell Johnson and Diane Rhodes. They encourage her with their words “Just Do It” and with her daily walk with Christ.


Pastor Jerome B. Price, Sr. of the Carter Metropolitan CME Church tells his congregation that “each morning when you wake up, the devil is standing at the foot of your bed trying to figure out how to kill you”. Ms. Tracey Michae’l Lewis goes a bit further in her interpretation of this. She allows us to see to what extremes he and his army will go to in order to conquer the soul of those that are weak and not in the word.

Having not read her previous novel, The Gospel According to Sasha Renee, I thought I would be a little lost, but Ms. Lewis seems to be a master at story telling in flashbacks and conversations that allow the reader to get the full storyline of her previous book. From the prologue, the reader will begin to wonder just what is about to happen to the main character—Crystal Justine. This book stands along, it is no sequel.

Crystal Justine or CJ as her friends call her could be anyone of us. You know the one that is always looking for love in the wrong places, or even the one that never wants to be like their mother. The one whose idea of true beauty is dictated by what the media says is beautiful. The one who never feels that she is good enough CJ takes us on a journey that allows us to see that we must be dressed in full armor 24 hours a day. CJ lets us know that we cannot have an Achilles Heel because he and his army know just what it is and will seek to destroy us by penetrating it.

Ms. Lewis gives us a tasty gumbo of a story. She has a dash of laughter, a tablespoon of sentimentality and a half a cup of fear. She then adds a half a cup of doubt to the gumbo with a little too much guilt and lets it simmer for a while. The aroma that the simmering gumbo puts out awakes our senses so that we began to want the story to cook faster than the chef (Ms. Lewis) wants. Our hunger for the story is increasing at the turning of each page.
As we see the gumbo start to bubble again, we see CJ attempting to find herself without any help from anyone. We see CJ each time pushing away those that truly want to help. We see the seed of doubt that he and his army put inside each of us when we forget to put on all of our armor. Ms. Lewis allows us to see growth in others in the story. She shows us how the pain that we sometimes carried can be eased if we let those who truly love us know of it. We see how others react when they are attacked—we are allowed to see if they have dressed for success and protection or just dressed for the world.

As the gumbo continues to simmer, we find that Ms. Lewis has added some unforgiveness and about a cup and half of love to the mixture. She lets us taste the story and enjoy it, not knowing that it will get even better.
The reader may wonder if Ms. Lewis has left out an ingredient that will complete the gumbo, but luckily for us, she hasn’t. As the master chef of this novel Ms. Lewis keeps this story going and the reader on edge, and just when you think you’ve read it all or know it all she adds the final ingredient to complete the story. She looks into the cabinet and adds one single mustard seed.
All of our lives have been interrupted, but it’s the journey that we take that determines just how much of an interruption we allow. Tracey Michae’l Lewis has made a gumbo of a story that has all of the ingredients of a tasty book. You will find yourself not putting the gumbo in a bowl to eat; you’ll just eat from the pot—it’s that good.

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