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.

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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.

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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.

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Diversity Spotlight Thursday #2 – Asian Characters/Asian Mythology

diversity-spotlight

Welcome to my second Diversity Spotlight Thursday! 💚 This wonderful weekly blog meme was created and is hosted by Aimal at Bookshelves and Paperbacks! For more information about the meme, please read the announcement post here.

My participation in this meme is to help me with one of my reading goals: to read books with a variety of perspectives, especially ones different from my own. Every two weeks I will share with you:

  1. A diverse book you have read and enjoyed
  2. A diverse book that has already been released but you have not read
  3. A diverse book that has not yet been released

I wanted to do a theme for this week’s Diversity Spotlight – so this week’s theme is: books with Asian characters or inspired by Asian mythology.

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Let’s Talk About: ‘Issues’ Stories, Happy Stories & Why We Need Both

issues-and-happy

Earlier this month in October, T wrote a thread on Twitter about criticizing problematic portrayals that are ‘realistic’. The idea of today’s discussion post came to me after reading T’s tweets, and I felt compelled to reflect on my preference of books that tackle marginalized social identities.

In today’s Let’s Talk About, I talk about the importance of reading books that explore social issues, particularly those relating to people of marginalized identities and what they may face and experience, as well as why it is important – in fact, necessary – to have happy stories too.

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