The Coldest Winter Ever Summary

Winter Santiaga is the spoiled, rebellious daughter of notorious drug dealer Ricky Santiaga. She was born during New York's worst snowstorms, and she's raised in Brooklyn, New York, where her father lavishes her with everything money can buy.

  • Shortly after the family moves to Long Island, the FBI raids the house and arrests Ricky. Winter's her three sisters (Porsche, Lexus, and Mercedes), but Winter escapes. She lives with a man for a while, then moves in with her aunt.
  • Eventually, Winter gets placed in the House of Success, a group home for teenage girls. There, she hustles clothes and cigarettes to make money. She makes an enemy out of her friend Simone after she refuses to bail Simone out of jail. Simone attacks Winter.
  • Winter takes refuge in the home of Sister Souljah, the author and MC. Winter fails to heed Sister Souljah's advice, however, and gets arrested when she's caught transporting drugs in her boyfriend's car.

The Coldest Winter Ever

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

During one of New York’s worst snow storms, Winter is born to Ricky Santiaga and his wife. At the age of sixteen, Winter is well-accustomed to a life of decadence provided by her notorious father who commands an intricate family web of drug dealers in their Brooklyn ghetto. As familiar as she is with riches, she is also acutely aware of the devastation of urban poverty to which she is determined never to succumb.

Her father’s decision to move his family to Dix Hills, an affluent Long Island suburb, creates unimaginable consequences. Winter is left alone to find her way precariously through the shifting maze of power, sex, money, and drugs, determined to vindicate her father and rise above the laws, social welfare system, poverty, and dangers that surround her.

Author Sister Souljah, a political activist, is a part of this story as a constant voice through all of Winter’s struggles. Winter hears Souljah’s voice intermittently on the radio and lives with her briefly while in pursuit of her own dubious ambitions. Souljah’s pleas to the young black women she works with to realize their dignity, beauty, and inner power fail to find a place to rest in Winter’s driven spirit.

The Coldest Winter Ever is a fast-moving, impeccably brilliant account of choices and consequences within the urban hip-hop culture. Sister Souljah writes eloquently with expressive insights and language of youth. Amidst the crisis and cruelty of inner city poverty and seemingly insurmountable struggles, Sister Souljah’s voice is one of grace and unmistakable clarity in one young woman’s coming-of-age story.