Tag Archives: Literary Fiction

Love & Injustice

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
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This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018 AND my February Book of the 33590210Month pick, so all around I was really excited for this book! As you can see from my star rating, I LOVED this book!! This was a book that I kind of had to sit on my rating and thoughts before I made a final decision and I’m happy to say that I genuinely believe that this is a five-star read.

This book was beautifully written, captivating and heartbreaking all at the same time. We follow Celestial and Roy, a pair of happy newlyweds. Roy is a young executive and Celestial is an artist, both up and coming and at the start of their exciting careers. As happy as their lives are unfolding, it all comes tumbling as Roy is wrongfully accused of a crime and then sentenced to 12 years. Throughout the novel, we follow their individual journeys and the impact of this event on them and their marriage. This is such an important read exploring the injustice of our justice system, particularly towards Black men, but from a different lens. To me, this is equally a socially just focused book but also a tragically beautiful love story.

The thing about this book that I loved the most was the deep exploration of our characters. We take a pretty deep dive into both Celestial and Roy, but also Andre who is Celestial’s childhood friend that she takes comfort in while Roy is incarcerated. Not only do we have strong character profiles of our protagonists, but we also examine the lives of those around them which builds for a richer story. In the exploration of our characters, we find incredibly flawed, relatable and real characters. You can’t really find fault in anyone’s actions, as I would ask “what would you do” if you were to find yourself in any kind of situation like this.

I loved the different formats and switching of POV’s throughout the book. I found this to have a powerful impact on the book, as we could actually see the direct impacts on each of the characters and just helps you to understand where everyone is coming from. There is a short exchange of the story that is told in letters sent back and forth between Celestial and Roy while Roy is in jail, and this was the most heartbreaking part of the story as you really start to see the changes in their marriage just from the letters.

All in all, this was an important read and it was a heartbreaking love story. This was complex and raw, and I believe everyone needs to read this book. I am so happy to have read this and am so grateful that this got to be my Book of the Month pick! 😀

 

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5 Stars…All the Stars!!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ngfive-star-rating-black-clip-art-hi

little fires everywhereHow lucky I feel to have my first read of the year be such a fantastically amazing book?! Looks like Rachel and I both lucked out with our first reads both being 5-stars! Don’t forget to check out her review of her first read, if you haven’t already!

Now onto this book…it…was…incredible!! This book left me breathless by the end and it absolutely gutted me of all my feelings. This book is a beautiful look into the multi-layerness of motherhood, womanhood, teenage love and seeking out living our best lives. Celeste Ng has a way of writing beautifully lyrical words that not only transport you to a perfectly coiffed suburban neighborhood, but also stirs in you all of the emotions that the characters are feeling throughout the book. I loved this book and EVERYONE needs to read this!!

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Christina’s Favorites of 2017!!

2017

2017…oof, what a year. Let’s just leave it at that, kay? Now to focus back on books! Many books have been read by us as a collective this year. Between the three of us, we have read…105 books!!! Here we are to share with you some of our favorites from this past year!! These are not in any specific order for any of us, just as a heads up!

Christina 

  1. I’m going to cheat a little with my first book and go with the Six of Crows duology. These were the first two books that I read this past year and I was so glad that I finally got around to this duology!! This was a fantastic duology filled with a fast-paced plot, incredibly dynamic characters and a fascinatingly immersive world. I loved it!!
  2. My second pick is going to be none other than Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Another one of the first books that I’ve read this year and this is definitely the book that has had the most last impact. A debut author and I am hoping to definitely see more from Yaa Gyasi. This was a most beautiful multigenerational book following two Ghanian sisters. This book explored blackness in such a unique way through the most beautiful storytelling.
  3. My third book is in similar vein with my second book, and that is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas…another beautiful book written by a debut author!! This was a moving YA book inspired by the “Black Lives Matter” movement. This was a difficult book to read as it tells the BLM story from the perspective of a young black girl, which just makes it even more heartbreaking. This is such an important book and I believe that EVERYONE should read this book…and ASAP.
  4. My fourth pick came to me at quite the surprise when I read it earlier in the year. And that is Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. Now, Cassandra Clare’s books have been my longtime guilty pleasure reads, as they are slightly ridiculous and just pack full of YA tropes. However, her newest trilogy (The Dark Artifices) is beyond anything that I had expected to read from Cassandra Clare. It is evident that her writing and storytelling have become so much more sophisticated and I believe Cassandra Clare to be a YA author that believes in not sugar-coating books for a younger audience. She used this book as an opportunity to address some real world issues and I applaud her for doing so.
  5. My fifth and final pick for this list is going to be none other than Turtles All The Way Down by John Green. As someone with OCD, I have always appreciated John Green’s openness and his candor about his own experiences with OCD. It has always given me something to relate to and connect with in media, since I have not seen OCD represented either accurately or respectively. What this meant for this book was a most painful, heartbreaking and accurate portrayal of OCD. This was a difficult book for me to read, but I am so glad that it exists in the world and I am incredibly grateful to John Green for being continuously open and raising awareness on this issue.

I like to think that I had a pretty good reading year and I hope y’all did too!!! 🙂

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Quick Take: The Round House

The Round House by Louise Erdrich
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the round houseThis was one of the few books that I read in November, as this was my November book club pick with some of my girlfriends. We try to theme our picks and for November, our theme was Native American literature, as we wanted to take back the narrative of what Thanksgiving really is about – and highlight the literature of the First People’s. So this was how we picked this book for the month!

This book is set in the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota, where we follow the story of a young boy’s mother who was raped and the aftermath of the horrific incident. The story is told through the eyes of the young boy as the family and the community attempt to decipher what happened and maneuver between federal law and Indian law.

This is a beautifully important story and I think still a big issue today. The reason why I gave it the three stars that I did was that I did have a hard time following the story as it was told through the eyes of the 13-year old boy. At about the halfway mark of the book, the flow of the story was a lot smoother and it was easier to follow his perspective. The content matter is also quite heavy and difficult, and I typically read these stories much slower. The relationship of the family was my favorite part of the story and how this tragic event not only brought the family closer together, but it also showed how they honored the mothers and women in their tribe. The story definitely makes you feel a lot, as I felt waves of sadness, anger, happiness and grief. I am glad that I had the opportunity to be exposed to this story and this definitely encouraged me to continue to intake stories from communities that I don’t typically read from, as it’s so important to share these stories.

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Does Shelter Always Equal Comfort?

Shelter by Jung Yun
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I was so excited for this book when I first heard about it. This is a debut novel that sounded like it was going to address the Korean-American child experience with sheltertheir Korean immigrant parents. This story follows Kyung Cho and his wife, Gillian, as their debts and bad decisions catch up with them and begin to threaten their livelihood. They live very close to Kyung’s parents, Jin and Mae, who gave Kyung everything they could’ve, but never showed a shred of kindness or love or patience. Seemingly out of the blue, a violent act towards Jin and Mae force them to move in with Kyung and Gillian, which also forces out the many issues that the family has bottled up over time.

In reading the synopsis for this, I was strangely excited for the opportunity to read about a struggle that I could partially relate to. My parents were much kinder and more loving growing up, however, we still had to learn the tricky balance that immigrant parents and their American-Born children typically need to learn. How does the family balance the importance of culture and the new culture that they live in? How does the child balance honoring where their ancestors come from and figure out making a new life for themselves? These are so many questions that don’t get addressed or represented in books, so I was excited for a Korean author to take a leap in addressing these issues in this debut novel. Warning: Spoilers ahead and trigger for abuse/rape. 

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