The Next Thing is Joy: Gospel According to Vivian Grace

The Next Thing is Joy: Gospel According to Vivian Grace
by Tracey Michae'l Lewis


Knowing that she doesn't want to live a life that lacks significance, Vivian Grace begins working to empower the people in her community. She believes she's found her true calling as a member of the Black Panther Party in Chicago. What Vivian doesn't count on finding is love.


But Vivian's love affair with the charismatic Black Panther Party leader, Reggie, takes a turn for the worse when his abusive side surfaces. To protect herself and her unborn child, Vivian has to commit a cardinal sin in order to escape the relationship alive. She finally finds refuge in the most unlikely of places and begins her long journey toward healing. If Vivian can receive God's forgiveness and extend the same to those who have hurt her, waiting for her is a love she could have never imagined.

As part of the read-in-any-order "Gospel of Grace Women" trilogy, Tracey Michae'l Lewis reveals the genesis of the generational curses that have plagued the Grace women: Sasha Renee, Crystal Justine and the matriarch, Vivian Grace. This story shows how the struggle to choose courage over fear and forgiveness over bitterness is a real but necessary fight.

Book Review for The Next Thing is Joy

“Lyrical. Powerful. Moving. Passionate. Enduring.

Tracey Michae'l Lewis' latest work; The Next Thing is Joy, is exactly the kind of literature people should be reading. It's not chick lit, or a beach read, because it really transports the reader to a different place and time.

You feel the character's emotions and angst. Sometimes, I wanted to shake Vivian by her shoulders and tell her to, 'Wake up!' Other times, my heart broke for her because I know other women that have suffered like she did.  This is a great read and I look forward to more work from Lewis.”
- Written by Keleigh Crigler Hadley, Author of Revenge, Inc.

Excerpt from The Next Thing is Joy

“Um, so why are we crouched down in your car outside some strange building?”

“Shh, Viv!”

I really couldn’t believe what we were doing.

“My neck is starting to hurt, Maddy.”

She waved her hand.

“Okay, okay. Give me a couple more minutes. He should be...”

Her voice trailed off.

The day started off normal. I’d spent the night at her house and we got up early to do our usual: nothing. We laid around drinking coffee, reading magazines, the paper, and chit-chatting. I loved the coffee and chit-chat but reading the paper always made me nervous. The Panthers were in the news regularly and I was constantly afraid that she’d ask me about them.

She never did.

That afternoon Madison asked me to take a ride with her to Oak Park, Illinois, a small suburb just west of the city. I wasn’t terribly comfortable with that only because Oak Park was probably one of the least integrated places in the area. There were a few black folks moving in from the city, but you could probably count them on one hand. I was certain my large Afro and black, three-quarters length jacket would stand out a bit. But Maddy was adamant. She said she had to go check on something and didn’t want to go alone. I didn’t want to leave her hanging, so I jumped in her car and we rolled.

But sitting in the car outside of a large, semi-detached home waiting on God knew what, I regretted my decision.

“Listen, I don’t know what we are doing here but I can only imagine it has something to do with Daniel.”

Daniel was her newest “boyfriend,” if you could call him that. She met him during one of her many shopping trips on Michigan Avenue and found herself in his bed that same night. He was amaaaaazing, let her tell it. But after a few more dates and a few more nights, his calls became increasingly infrequent. That didn’t surprise me at all but it dumbfounded her. She thought they had a “connection.”

“Is this his house, Maddy?”

She looked up at me from her bent over position near the floor of the car. Her eyes affirmed what I thought. I was no fool. As soon as we reached the intersection where the house was located and she abruptly told me to “get down,” I knew something was up.

“Okay,” she whispered. “Yes! This is his house.”

I sighed.

“I don’t know. I just have to know what happened, Viv.”

I looked at her incredulously. Her hair was straightened and dyed black allegedly because, according to her, she was channeling Cher. I suspected that it was a style he recommended.

“Seriously? Are you really trying to say that you don’t know what the deal is?”?

She was silent.

“Or is it that you don’t want to know?”

She still didn’t say anything.

“You are going to have to admit to yourself at some point, Maddy, that the way you go about these relationships is not working for you.”

Her eyes narrowed and I knew what she was thinking. I wasn’t really in a position to talk. But it wasn’t about me in that moment. She was the one spying on a man.


She shushed me again.

An attractive man with blond hair and who seemed to be more tan than was possible even during the hottest of Chicago summers, stepped outside of the doorway and walked down the pathway toward the street. He was dressed impeccably, wearing fitted, bell bottomed trousers that accentuated a narrow waist and a white, butterfly-collared shirt unbuttoned low enough to show a bushel of blond hair peeking out from the top.

“See? He’s by himself. It’s fine. Maybe he’s just been busy,” I said, somewhat relieved.


By that point, I’d gotten sick and tired of her shushing me. I started to sit upright when suddenly a woman stepped outside of the same door Daniel did. I slid back down in my seat and watched as my friends’ world stopped.

The woman looked like she was wearing a man’s overcoat and nothing else. She ran over to Daniel and handed him what appeared to be a watch. He smiled at her with pure adoration in his eyes and leaned down to kiss her passionately on the lips. He loved that woman.

The Next Thing Is Joy: The Gospel According to Vivian Grace