10

Into White by Randi Pink – Quietly subversive and full of wit

into-white

When a black teenager prays to be white and her wish comes true, her journey of self-discovery takes shocking–and often hilarious–twists and turns in this debut that people are sure to talk about.

LaToya Williams lives in Birmingham, Alabama, and attends a mostly white high school. She’s so low on the social ladder that even the other black kids disrespect her. Only her older brother, Alex, believes in her. At least, until a higher power answers her only prayer–to be “anything but black.” And voila! She wakes up with blond hair, blue eyes, and lily white skin. And then the real fun begins . . .’

I heard that when people read the synopsis for this novel, it made them feel apprehensive and anxious. I hope, with this review, I may help in trying to dispel some apprehensions that you may have.

Into White presents a fascinating premise and also asks a very compelling what if – what if a black girl magically became white overnight? What would be the effects and consequences? Into White is either a book that you can take at face-value, a decision that will lead you to not fully appreciate what this book is trying to say, or you can read deeply and find thoughtful, positive messages about self-image and discovering what matters the most. Leave your expectations and ideas of ‘what it ought to be’ at the door – this book is great on its own.

Continue reading

24

Book Recs: Feminist Reads for Women’s History Month

womens-history-banner

Every March is Women’s History Month; a time for us to remember, celebrate, and commemorate the contributions and achievements women have made in history and in modern society.

I chose this month’s Book Recs theme to center around feminist reads not only because it’s Women’s History Month, but also because I understand that, for those who want to learn about feminism, it can feel like a daunting and overwhelming task. Where do I start? What’s a good start for an individual interested in feminism? Who do I listen to? Though I cannot answer those questions – as feminism can look different to different groups of people and cultures – my advice is to, a) begin with history, b) read widely, c) listen to a diversity of authors/activists/academics, and d) ensure your feminism is intersectional.

Continue reading

54

Let’s Talk About: Characters With ‘Difficult’ Names

difficult-names
Full title: Give me characters with ‘difficult’ names – I’ll give them the love they need

I want to talk about names today.

Names, or specifically my name, was something I struggled with during my childhood and well into my teen years. Today, I want to talk about this struggle, but more importantly, how my name was – and is – so important to my identity. And then, I want to talk about names in fiction, particularly non-English names for characters of colour.

As a disclaimer, my discussion post today will address how names are construed and perceived in Western societies, as that is specific to my experience.

(Note: I do not condone names that are offensive or overly bizarre, e.g. ‘Lord’ or ‘V8’ – I wish I was kidding.)

Continue reading

19

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee – A stunning, emotional journey across the Oregon Trail

under-painted-sky

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

I have just been on the most incredible adventure. And now I am not too sure of what to do with myself.

Under a Painted Sky combines elements I am not usually familiar with (nor fond of) – Westerns and historical fiction – with themes I love to read about – sisterhood, friendship, loss, and the unexpected things we find. The result? An unforgettable, and poignant story about the bravery and determination of two young girls as they journey across the Oregon Trail. Lee captures the dusty road of the Oregon Trail with unparalleled finesse and detail with a moving story about pursuing the precious few things left in the face of overwhelming loss.

Continue reading

6

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – Mesmerizing poetry and beautifully told

browngirldreaming

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

I picked up this book because I fell in love with Woodson’s story in Flying Lessons and Other Stories called Main Street. The narrative in Main Street was achingly beautiful, nostalgic, and poignant, and so on a whim, I picked up Brown Girl Dreaming at my library without so much as a glance at what it was about – just in time for Black History Month too.

Continue reading

40

The Great Re-Rate

reratebanner

Hello everyone! Today will be a bit of an unusual post, but it is something I have wanted to do for a long time.

Towards the end of 2016, I read a lot of good books. I have been reading a lot of good books in 2017 too. Before 2016 though? I didn’t make great reading choices. I read a lot of books that were hyped up or ‘popular’, rather than reading books that truly interested me. But now that I’ve been making much better book choices, I have discovered some truly phenomenal books that have, essentially, changed the paradigm.

Continue reading

11

Kindred by Octavia Butler – A powerful historical/sci-fi; absolutely exceptional in every way

kindred

Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.

Kindred is a truly outstanding book. Not only is it the first science-fiction written by a black author – making it an incredible piece of black American literature – but it is an amazing book by its own merits. And there are many.

Continue reading