Inner City Girl by Collen Smith-Dennis a review

Published: Tuesday, 12 May 2015 Written by Alia-Marie Baksh

Inner City Girl

by Colleen-Smith-Dennis

A review on the novel, Inner City Girl by Colleen Smith-Dennis by Alia-Marie Baksh:

A riveting storyline and a refreshing look into the life of a Caribbean student. In Inner City Girl, by Colleen Smith-Dennis
, there is an evident distinction between any other student attending Milverton High School and the determined Martina who is the ideal example of ‘you can achieve anything in life if you work hard enough’. The novel entails twists and turns and unexpected occurrences that make the book worth reading. Martina faces the troubles of any high school student with added obstacles standing in her way, but it is admirable how she seems to accept her situation so gratefully and keeps her head held high, despite the turmoil and trouble she has gone through in her five years at Milverton. She defies all odds and causes society’s head to turn when she comes out on top. She deals with the absence of her father, her mother’s undeniable effort to run the household, her younger sister, Yvette, and her older brother, Shimron, coping with it all.


In the beginning of her high school education, Martina seems excited to be attending such a prestigious school, but is often left feeling out-of-place when she compares the other students’ ‘brand-name bags’, expensive watches and jewelry, many clothes and shoes to what she has. As a poor inner city girl, she could not afford much. There were days when Martina could not even attend school because she did not have the bus fare, or she would not eat lunch to save for her bus fare. At one point she skipped various lunches to save up to pay for her CXC exam. She is teased by a student, whom she later refers to as “Stone Cold”. Martina and Stone Cold do not get along well, and she would often tease Martina - even accusing her of things Martina did not do. There is a lot of tension between the two throughout the entire book.


Martina is very humble, and often feels like she is a burden unto her mother. Their next door neighbor, Miss Turner, tries to help out Martina as much as she could, and praises, awards and encourages her as if she is her own daughter. Her mother often goes out in the evening, and comes back in the early morning, from ‘work’. She eventually learns how to cope with being alone so much at home, and accepts the fact that her mother is doing what she has to do to raise her kids. Martina’s mother is protective of her two daughters, and we later find out why in a letter she writes to Martina. Martina finally understands why her mother did the things she did, as she said in realization to Miss Turner towards the very end of the novel: “Something is clear now, she never want us to wear shorts or go anywhere because she ‘fraid we would be like her.”

Even with her seemingly destroyed family, Martina takes refuge in her schoolwork, reading and her swimming. She is motivated to do well and make everybody, not only her mother, in her community proud. In the end, Martina accomplished the goal she initially set out, and after all she has been through, there is no stopping her now. There is so much to learn from this novel, and it was definitely a joy to read. “As you take your place in life, remember the struggles and the challenges you have gone through in order to be here,” -Martina; in this extraordinarily written novel, she inspires many others to do the same, including myself.  It is an inspiring take on the struggles of an Inner City Girl.

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