When All Hell Breaks Loose

( 13 )

Overview

It's a Sunday morning, and while most people are thinking about getting the paper and breakfast, Gregory Alston has something other than eggs on his mind. Today he's going to propose to Adrian Jenkins, his girlfriend of three years. But when he actually does, all hell breaks loose and he gets a lot more than he bargained for. His mother returns from France, where she's been living as a jazz singer since leaving her family in Texas nearly twenty years ago. His Holy Roller sister, Shreese, complains that Adrian is ...

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When All Hell Breaks Loose: A Novel

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Overview

It's a Sunday morning, and while most people are thinking about getting the paper and breakfast, Gregory Alston has something other than eggs on his mind. Today he's going to propose to Adrian Jenkins, his girlfriend of three years. But when he actually does, all hell breaks loose and he gets a lot more than he bargained for. His mother returns from France, where she's been living as a jazz singer since leaving her family in Texas nearly twenty years ago. His Holy Roller sister, Shreese, complains that Adrian is too "worldly" for him, even though she herself is falling for the shady, charismatic pastor of her church. And his boys-who run the gamut from player to buffoon-react to the news of his engagement with grief and disbelief. And if that's not enough, he's got Adrian, who has more skeletons in her closet than a haunted house. What's a brother to do? When All Hell Breaks Loose is a debut novel about black twenty-somethings that is fast and funny. It's also a peek into the minds of young black men. Camika Spencer won't just have you laughing-she'll have you looking in the mirror to see if she's talking about you.

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Editorial Reviews

Tamara Henry
In When All Hell Breaks Loose, the reader doesn't know that until he or she is knee-deep in the story that its impossible to put the book down.
USA Today
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A young black man's family, friends and future are at the center of Spencer's thin contemporary debut novel. After three years of dating, Dallas hairdresser Adrian Jenkins agrees to marry Gregory Alston, a successful computer consultant. Narrator Gregory shares his good fortune with his church-going younger sister, Shreese, and his father, Adolphus, who raised Greg and Shreese alone, after his wife, Louise, left the family years ago to pursue her jazz career in Europe. Upon hearing the news, Louise returns immediately to the U.S., taking up residence in her former home and rekindling her relationship with Adolphus. While reacquainting himself with his mother, Greg also watches the developing relationship between Shreese and the Reverend Ulan Dixon, a slick and suspect preacher. Though Greg resents the way his mother abandoned the family, his anger begins to fade as he begins to understand her motivation. Meanwhile, Greg's relationship with Adrian deteriorates when Adrian's maid of honor, Carla Perrone, arrives in town. Carla begins to date Greg's best friend Tim, which bothers Adrian in a way Greg can't understand. The novel climaxes with two simultaneous crises, in which Dixon pulls off a cruel swindle and Greg makes a shocking discovery about Adrian's sexual orientation. Foreshadowing is heavy, so the pivotal discovery is not as surprising as it should be, and Greg's first-person narration is excessively sprinkled with brand names and popular references. Spencer's enthusiasm for her story is clear, but fuller characterizations and a more nuanced take on sensitive issues would have greatly improved an otherwise ordinary novel. Author tour. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Yet another self-published success, this tale of black twentysomethings dealing with love, marriage, and tangled family relations is already a hit at bookstores specializing in African American literature. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312267933
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

A native and resident of Dallas, Texas, Camika Spencer holds a degree in radio and television broadcasting from East Texas State University. She is currently working on her second novel, Cubicles.

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Read an Excerpt


I'm feeling real good right about now. A brother don't have many days when he's on cloud nine. I mean, just last week my car had a flat, the hot water in my apartment was off for two days, and our company basketball games had been canceled. If I didn't know better, I would think it just wasn't meant for a black man to be happy at all. But this morning, before some serious lovemaking with my girl, Adrian, I did it. I asked her to marry me. I believe, in my heart of hearts, she's the one thing in this world that makes me smile in spite of all the bad, and she has been for the past three years.

Let me tell you about my Adrian. She's a self-employed beautician with no children. She's caring, supportive, intelligent, and fine. The one thing that really attracted me to her was, after our second year of dating, she promised to never leave me. It wasn't just what she said, but how she said it. There was conviction behind it, as if that was what she was living for. That counts for a lot with me, and that's why I love Adrian Jenkins and want to spend the rest of my life with her. No woman has ever made me feel this way, and I trust my feelings.

We've been dating steady for the past three years. I know that's a long time, but I had to make sure she was my type. I'll admit, when I first met her I thought she was wild and unsettled. She just had that wild and unsettled look. Most beauticians have it. I see them all the time at the clubs looking like Lil' Kim video hopefuls and rejects. They wear fake nails that are a million colors, platinum blond highlights in the hair, and the Big T Bazaar designer Versace, Dolce, and Donna Karan imposter clothing. I don't know what they teachour sisters in hair school, but with some of 'em, it's a wonder Mary Kay, Flori Roberts, and Avon haven't taken over the White House and painted it mauve with gold highlights, posting Patti LaBelle up as their trademark.

When I first met Adrian, the only thing that turned me off was her nails. On both hands, they were long and blue with constellation symbols on them. She had the moon on her thumbnails, the sun on her pinkie nails, and planets and stars on her six middle finger nails, which just about covered everything I learned about outer space in grade school. I was turned off because it reminded me too much of this chick I used to date back in the day named Deidre, who used her nails wickedly in bed. Makes me shudder at the thought. But aside from the nails, I was totally attracted to Adrian. She didn't have a lot of makeup on. It was just enough to make her facial features stand out and make a brother like me take notice. She had on a brown leather-and-suede pants suit. Fitted like a glove and her booty was talking to me. For real! I could hear it going, "Yo Greg baby! I'm over here waiting for you! Come on, sweetie!" Her physical was popping off in tongues. Now, let me remind you, my woman is fine. I'm talking about five foot four, one hundred ten pounds, firm, and brown-skinned. Not that skin color matters. I've been with women who were so black they looked purple at night. And then I've been with those of the light, bright, damn near white persuasion. But Adrian is a creamy brown. She has the skin tone that falls somewhere between hazelnuts and dark honey. If you ever met her, she would remind you of Chili from the three-female group TLC. Although Adrian doesn't have naturally curly hair like Chili, she keeps her short style kept up. Like I said, she's a beautician.

Back to how I met Adrian. I was at Players, a local club for the twenty-to-thirty-something crowd, and she was sitting at the bar with two of her friends. One of them was kind of thick. Healthy arms and a booty that could have walked through the crowd on its own. She wasn't fat, just big-boned, while the other friend was fine like Adrian, but her haircut was all wrong. She had one of those asymmetrical-to-the-fifth-power-with-honey-blond-highlights things going on. Her head looked like a cutting board, but I assume that's what the sisters are into because she wasn't the only one that night sporting the hairdo. They were laughing and you could tell they were talking about other people in the club. Going through their girlfriend motions as they sipped their drinks. Look, point, talk, giggle.

At first, I was reluctant to go over to Adrian because she had one of those looks that sisters sometimes give in a club. It was that look that says, I'm looking good, I'm feeling good, I want to dance, but not with you! If it hadn't been for the way she smiled at me, I would have never approached her. Not in this lifetime. I don't wear rejection well. It isn't my color. The DJ was spinning a nice remix of a song that had the crowd hyped, so I told myself, What the hell, and walked over and asked her to dance. At first she hesitated and had me standing there like I was Joe Fool or somebody. I got kind of pissed because her girls were checking me out, looking me up and down like I was yo-yo. I knew they would probably have something to say once I walked away from the bar. Look, point, talk, giggle. Women always do. Adrian looked over at them and smiled. The one with the bad haircut smacked her rose-colored lips and said, "Girl, go on, I'll watch your drink." I held my hand out and she took it. I still remember how soft her hands were the first time I touched her. Man! Every time I think about my baby, I feel good! Anyway, we danced the rest of the night. Before the club closed, we did the man-and-woman thang by exchanging phone numbers and ever since then it's been heaven on earth. Man, I love my lady!

So here I sit, Sunday morning, getting ready for church. Adrian just left. She was ecstatic. The ring cost me a pretty penny and I'm glad I got a college education and a damn good job working with computer systems. Otherwise, I would have been at the Dollar General store trying to get the Cinderella cubic zirconium special without the pumpkin. Those hairdressers make nice money, especially if they're good. Adrian is the best. Her salon is called AJ's Getaway. It is the only black-owned and black-run shop here in Dallas where sisters can go and get a free massage if they get a perm, cut, and color. Adrian is working on getting a business-improvement loan so she can add to the shop. She wants reading and day care rooms. She believes that hair salons should be an escape where black women don't mind giving their money. They can't mind much now, because she's driving an LS400 fully loaded Lexus. I'm telling you, my lady is bad! Dammit! I better hurry up.

I'm supposed to go to church today with my sister, Shreese. She's my baby sister by three years, but we're close. She's all into the church scene and it affects everything she does. She goes four nights a week and all day on Sunday. I mean all day, from sunrise to sunset. She's on the usher board, in the women's chorus, and head of the Pastor and Staff Relations Committee. She is the only woman I know who cried and fasted for two weeks when she found out gospel artist Kirk Franklin married Tammy. She also has a framed, blown-up, action-sized photo of her and T. D. Jakes hanging in her living room like it's a Brenda Joysmith original. That wouldn't be so bad, but the picture is in a frame that cost her a good ninety-seven bucks! She professes that Mr. Jakes is worth every penny spent on the frame.

My sister has some serious religious issues that need to be resolved, is what I think! I believe she's more into the practice of church than the purpose of church. She's always been that way. Back when I was a senior in high school and she was a freshman, she would carry her Bible to school with her every day. Other students used to tease the hell out of her. By the time she graduated, she had been voted "Most Likely to Achieve Immaculate Conception." But it was cool, because I never had to fight the boys off her like most big brothers had to do. Shreese didn't go out on dates and she didn't allow any guys to call her after six. She's always been a little weird, but I love her and she's good people. Telling her about my engagement is going to be tough, because Shreese takes nothing lightly.

Oh, hell! Where's my watch? Oh, I left it in the kitchen. Got my keys, Bible, wallet, cool . . . I'm out. I better watch my swearing, too. Last time I visited, I almost let one slip out.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2003

    It Broke Loose aiight!!!!

    It was slow at first I'll have to admint but then it did a sommersault on me. You could see it coming but then you couldn't anyway it was a hot mess a good read and a dayum trip. Pick it up on a lazy day, it will be worth the time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2002

    I could not put this book down until is was read from cover to cover!!!

    This book was outstanding. I was never much a reader before I read Camika's book. Now I am looking foward to all of her upcoming books. This book had me laughing, crying, and cussing out loud. I was thoroughly impressed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2002

    GIRL U R BAD!!

    I THINK THIS BOOK WAS VERY GOOD, I READ ALOT OF BOOKS BUT THIS BOOK IS ONE THAT I COULD NOT PUT DOWN. YOUR CHARACTERS WERE SO REAL AND I LOVED THE WAY GREG TREATED MS.LADY ADRIAN. HE TREATED HER THE WAY ANY WOMAN WOULD WANT A MAN TO TREAT HER, BUT SHE WAS DOWN RIGHT BOGUS, IF SHE WANTED TO BE WITH THE WOMAN THEN SHE SHOULD NOT HAVE ACCEPTED HIS INVITATION FOR MARRIAGE. I THINK ALL PEOPLE HAVE SOMEONE WHO THEY WOULD LOVE TO BE WITH BUT ACTING OUT THE ACTION IS TOTALLY WRONG. I THINK SHE WAS REALLY WRONG FOR HAVING RELATIONS IN THE HOUSE SHE COULD HAVE TOOK THAT STUFF SOME WHERE ELSE, DON'T EVER BRING YOUR GARBAGE INSIDE WHERE YOU LIVE IF YOU HAVE A GARBAGE OUTSIDE. I KNEW SHE WAS GOING TO BE GAY. THIS IS THE FIRST BOOK I HAVE READ BY CAMIKA AND I WILL DEFINITELY READ ANOTHER ONE. GOD BLESS AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. LAST BUT NOT LEAST I LIKE THAT HIS MOTHER AND FATHER GOT A CHANCE TO BE WITH EACH OTHER AGAIN, AND THE PREACHER GOT COLD BUSTED. LOVE FROM ONE OF YOUR NEW FANS LISA. EMAIL ME BACK AT LISAL1M2M8@AOL.COM

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2001

    The next best book since Sista Soulja.

    This book was hot yo...I really enjoyed how it was written in a sort of conversation as if Greg was talking to the reader. I suggest only mature readers should read this book. And I would love to see it as a movie.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2001

    It's a damn shame.

    It's a damn shame what those broads did to that man. But he was a fool because, I figured it out way before he did and it made me mad because how you gonna be that trifflin' and wait 'til two weeks before your wedding to get caught in your new house with your old lover in you and your fiance's new bed! I was outraged. It was a good book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2001

    THE BOMB

    all hell breaks loose was a great book i tend to recommend it to others out there who have not read it yet. the message of the book is women like adrian make a man have his doubts bout being in a relationshp.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2001

    ADRIAN IS A DOG TRAINER

    I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED THIS BOOK. THE CHARACTERS WERE TOO REAL. WOMEN LIKE ADRIAN CAUSES MEN TO DOUBT TRUE WOMEN LOOKING FOR COMPANIONSHIP. CAMIKA CAPSURED EVERY ONE OF MY EMOTIONS. I CAN'T WAIT TO READ HER UPCOMING BOOK.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2000

    When It Broke Loose I Could'nt Put It Down

    For her first time around Spencer hit the nail on the head. This book was well written with characters that we either know in real-life, or wish we did. From beginning to the end each chapter will keep you wanting more. Sometimes when I reccomend books I tell friends what chapters they can do without in this book you will love them all. Spencer can just keep them coming she's addition to my favorites list.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2000

    This book left me wanting more!

    I must admit that a lot of hell didn't break loose but it was a great book just the same. The book was well written, the characters well developed, it kept my interest. It was a total page turner. I rate this book with Michael Baisdens 'Men Cry In The Dark'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2000

    SURPRISE!!!!!!

    Life is full of surprises. You never know what lies around the next corner. This just reinforces the fact that blood is thicker than water. No matter what you are going through your family is always there for you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2000

    YOU GO GODDESS!!!!

    THIS SISTAH IS BAD!! WHEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE KEPT ME ON THE EDGE OF MY SEAT. THE CHARACTERS WERE GREAT, DEVELOPED WELL, AND ABOVE ALL.... SO REAL. THIS SAYS A LOT ABOUT THE AUTHOR. CAMIKA IS SO REAL, AND IT FEELS GOOD TO PICK UP A BOOK THAT IS REAL AND THAT CAN ACTUALLY BE RELATED TOO. I LIKE TO READ, YET I RARELY COME ACROSS MATERIAL THAT IS INTRESTING ENOUGH TO KEEP ME ATTENTIVE. THIS SISTAH IS TRULY ANOINTED WITH THE GIFT OF WORDS. I ANTICIPATE HER SOPHMORE PEICE.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 1999

    Ordinary

    I was let down a little. Maybe I was expecting a lot of 'hell' to break loose. The events were just ordinary events that happen in everyday life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 1999

    Very Interesting

    Not quite Terry McMillan,but the author defiantly has enormous talent.I would read the book, and I most certainly would recommend it. With the right characters, I could see this book being made into a movie. I havent even felt that way about all of Terry's work!

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