1. Dear Senthuran by Akwaeke Emezi (Non-Fiction)
This was unlike almost any other book that I’ve read, and I think it’s so important. I guess you could qualify this as a memoir, although it’s so poetically written that it almost feels more like a lyrical diary. The subjects are deep – specifically around sense of self, gender, image and so many more explorations just waiting to be consumed. While some of this was intimate to the point of uncomfortable, it’s so honest and raw and real that you understand the vulnerability. I enjoyed this so much the first time and will definitely be reading this again in the future.
2. We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza (Fiction)
I loved that this book takes place in Philly (where I am from), and it covers a very important problem with the police force in America. It’s told from two perspectives of an interracial friendship, showing two sides of a traumatic event. A white woman is married to a cop who shoots an unarmed teenage black boy, and her black best friend is a journalist covering the story on the news. While I do believe they gave the white woman way too much slack, I think this would be a great book to cover this topic in schools. While the content is heavy, it’s written in a way that reads as young adult and is covered in a way that reads simply enough for varying age groups. I appreciate what the authors did with this idea, and I definitely understand all the accolades and attention the book has gotten.
3. Inappropriation by Lexi Freiman (Fiction)
Well.. this was an interesting read. I was drawn to the cover when I found this in a book store, but it was a classic case of don’t-judge-a-book… not to say the book was bad. But the characters are reactionary, problematic, confusing and contradictory. The main character is in an all-girls boarding school in Australia and is trying to figure out their identity as a possible genderfluid queer, and befriends two girls obsessed with the Cyborg Manifesto. From there, the character starts making bizarre choices, acting oddly entitled, and honestly everyone in the book starts being annoying. The focus on glamorizing trauma is potentially damaging, and the casual mention of date-rape culture is startling in a concerning way. Overall, I guess I didn’t like this book, but I do recognize and respect the boundaries it was attempting to push.
4. Untamed by Glennon Doyle (Non-Fiction)
There was a lot of things that I like about this book, specifically how much it challenged that arbitrary and harmful guidelines that society puts on us. I think parents could learn so much from her stories of the real meaning of “bravery”, and how young boys need to be reminded they are allowed to be gentle and girls need to be reminded they can be strong, and so many other ways to navigate today’s world. I also appreciate her late-in-life coming out, and the strength it must have taken to leave a marriage; the dynamic she has created in her family with her ex-husband, her wife, their children, and so much love is truly inspiring. My criticism of the book is that it was often a little to Christian and God-like for me, and a bit self-righteous at times. I also thought a few of the themes could have been better tied in and tied up at the end. So.. I’d recommend about 75% of this book overall, but I see why it got so much hype.
5. Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson (Fiction)
I loved this book for many reasons! There was tons of intersectionality that was beautifully portrayed and explored, and I think the author successfully painted pictures of a variety of experiences of life from all across the globe. And while there was a lot of heartbreak and tragedy that happened throughout the plot, the story revolved so uniquely and beautifully around food. The “black cake”, as mentioned in the title, is a puzzle piece that connected the journey that we follow with this family. I loved the dialogue around food and culture, and I think this makes the book great for so many different audiences. Highly recommend!
As always, more to come. Thanks for reading!