Casting Down Imaginations

Religion has always played a part in the lives of Anaya and Karen, especially since their dads are deacons. Once the best of friends, the now somewhat estranged duo head off for college with plans to live life on their own terms. What price will they pay in the end to find true happiness?

Anaya is determined to live life in the fast lane now that she is all grown up. Along the way she finds herself in one bad situation after the other, including an abusive relationship, an unplanned pregnancy, and a lucrative but less than admirable career. Just when shes about to lose it all, a man from her past comes to her rescue. In the end she must decide if she loves herself enough to be set free.

Karen is trying her best to keep things low key. Things go crazy however, when the father of her miscarried child suddenly returns around the same time her fathers dangerous obsession is revealed. With dreams of getting married and starting a family, she heads down a dangerous path that makes her question everything she thought she knew about love. Will she rediscover her faith and stability before its too late?

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What People Are Saying

All I have to say is WOW!!! ((((CLAPPING)))) Talk about an emotional roller coaster! I was laughing, screaming, yelling, saying “WHAT?!!”, crying ... LaShanda really put her all into this book! Brava!!!! Thank you for sharing your gift with the world!
— Shan Mahogany, author of In My Defense: A Bahamian Tale

“I enjoyed this story a great deal. I thought it was imaginative and original. The exploits of these characters and the decisions they made would resonate with many of us that have been at low points in our lives, making rash decisions as young people who think they know it all and know nothing. And I won’t even get started on the decisions made about men. The story kept me turning the pages and I was interested to see how things would turn out for both of them, especially Anya who carried the book a little more than Karen, but in the end Karen and her ex had drama piled on top of drama. It really was a good story.”
— Juanita Paine, Urban Christian Fiction Today

Casting Down Imaginations is a “niche” book on the surface. The author is young, black, and fairly traditional in her views. That didn’t slow me down much - I’m a big fan of Amy Tan, and I’m not Chinese-American. Good women writers sail across ethnic borders without ever slowing down. Behind the conflict between Tan’s traditional Chinese mothers and their modern American daughters is the same loving wrangling of my own experience, as a daughter and a mother. And the struggles of the main characters in Casting Down Imaginations were startlingly familiar to my 19-year-old self, who’s still here somewhere, even after nearly 40 years.

Both girls are headed for college. Karen, still dealing with the painful aftermath of her adolescent rebellion, is determined to do well, stick to her principles, and come out on top. Anaya doesn’t yet have the wildness out of her system - she can’t wait to get away and do as she pleases without limits. (Been there, done that, wore out the T-shirt!)

Ultimately, both women find paths to success, but “success” isn’t what either of them initially envisioned. Family drama, internal and interpersonal conflict, and crises of faith test them both; growing up isn’t easy for these young women. LaShanda makes their stories real. The dialogue flows so naturally the reader can hear it - a couple of phrases have started to creep into my own middle-aged-white-woman vocabulary. (Insert blushing smiley face here. I sometimes feel a tad silly when I open my mouth and a 20-year-old pops out.) The girls and their families are all beautifully imperfect people; an old boyfriend is an endearing jerk; the right thing to do is sometimes clear as mud, and at other times quite obvious and apparently unattainable. It’s life as we know it.

I did have reservations at first. First, I tend to avoid “Christian” fiction. Face it - it’s usually pretty preachy. I’m a believer, but I don’t think any of us has a lock on The Truth - as in, “Believe my way, or you go to hell...” Also, I sit decidedly to the left of political center; based on the blurb, I didn’t think Karen, Anaya, and I would see eye to eye on many issues. So I was pleasantly surprised by the straightforward, non-judging perspective. It didn’t matter that we might disagree on some points of behavior or even theology. The important thing was that we - Anaya, Karen, and the 19-year-old Cynthia - all learned, eventually, to be true to our own values, whatever they might be.

This is an impressive effort from a very talented author with a real gift for characterization and dialogue. I look forward to seeing more from her.
— Cynthia Canada, The Writer's Wire