Books

Silver Sparrow

Hello again, so I apologize for that unannounced hiatus — but I am back.

Luckily enough during my hiatus, I did still get to read a bit. I actually just finished reading Tayari Jones’ novel, Silver Sparrow. I actually had the opportunity of meeting Tayari Jones last year and not only is she an incredible talent, inspirational speaker but she’s also just a genuinely relatable human being. Last summer, I heard her speak to my Columbia Publishing Course class in a time that I desperately needed to hear everything she had to say. I could probably gush for ours about how much of a role model she is to me but let’s concentrate on her book.

I actually purchased her book when she came to visit the Publishing Course and she signed my copy for me. I knew that I was desperate to read it but with little to no free time within the course – it kept getting postponed. During my hiatus, I had been off and on reading the novel and was a little unsure about the general direction of the plot. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to happen or where I wanted the plot to go.

Silver Sparrow is the alternating narrative story of two girls who live in the south and how their circumstances have impacted them. The narrator of the first chapters is Dana Lynn Yarboro who is the daughter of James Witherspoon. Even in her childhood, Dana is acutely aware of the fact that she is a secret. Her father, an already married man, participated in bigamy by marrying her mother, Gwen, and fathering her. Although older than her sister, Chaurisse, Dana as the product of that bigamy and must learn to take a backseat in all things. The narrator to the second half of the novel is Bunny Chaurisse Witherspoon, James Witherspoon’s daughter from his first marriage. These chapters highlight the complex circumstances and truly cast a shade of gray on things that are generally seen as black and white.

I think that Tayari excelled in making the depth of each character’s turmoil apparent. There are so many conflicting feelings and opinions, that even the reader is swept into the conflict. This novel is very different from what I usually gravitate toward the shelf but I enjoyed reading it as a whole. It was an escape that I was happy to turn to and I look forward to reading more of Jones’ works.

 

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book review

Everything Everything

Nicola Yoon has been on my list of authors that I was looking forward to reading. I wasn’t quite sure whether to start with The Sun is Also A Star but once I saw the film trailer for Everything Everything, I knew that would be the first book of hers that I would have to read.

Yoon is an exceptionally talented writer and demonstrates her skills in character development, plot and descriptions in this novel. She is patient with the descriptions and really makes the main character, Madeline’s youthful and child-like fascination with the world believable. In the Q&A portion of the book, Yoon even says that the innocence of Madeline was largely inspired by her own infant daughter’s reactions to the world around her.

In all honesty, I hadn’t anticipated enjoying Everything Everything as much as I had. It was a new and fresh story that has never been told before. I think that there are themes like love and protection that are carried on throughout that really grip at the readers heartstrings and get them invested in the turn of events. I also respect Yoon for making the main female character multiracial. It’s not her identity but it is something that is made clear about her. I think that it’s incredible to have more culturally diverse characters in books, television and film because it really helps to inspire diverse readers and encourage diversity in the world. It helps remind audiences that fundamentally being different is nothing to be ashamed of.

****

I would recommend this book to YA readers, fans of John Green, fans of film to book comparisons, or anyone looking for an entertaining but light read.

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book review

Ayiti

For Haitian Flag Day, I decided to read Roxane Gay’s collection of short stories entitled Ayiti which is the Kreyol translation for: Haiti. In all honesty, there’s probably no one else that I would want to read a collection of short stories regarding Haiti and its culture than from a fellow Haitian-American writer such Roxane Gay. I found the collection to be captivating, concise and culturally relevant on all fronts.

In the chapter, About My Father’s Accent, it gave me a warm feeling of home. Having parents who were born and raised in Haiti, I grew up hearing their accents so I could hear the pronunciations of words that Gay perfectly described in the text as clear as day. It made me laugh in a child-like way while also reminding me of the pain I felt in my childhood when kids would tease me for their accents, specifically my father’s. In my mind, teasing my dad was from a loving place and anyone else doing it was unacceptable.

Another story, I enjoyed was There’s no E in Zombi which speaks to Haitian culture involving Voodoo. I’m glad this was included because one of the first things that comes into someone’s mind, for some reason, when I say that I’m Haitian is voodoo. Gay hilariously attempts to explain the proper pronunciation of the word and what letters require emphasis. The love story component was my favorite, however, because it resembled Haitian folklore, stories and cautionary tales that are passed through generations. A girl falls in love, he does not love her in return so she has no choice but to turn the love of her life into a zombi (that’s right – no e!)

I don’t want to continue to spoil the collection of short stories for you but I am honestly so glad this was the first work of Roxane Gay that I have read so far. She is a phenomenal writer and I feel as though she did Haiti the justice in its depiction that has been lacking in other stories. It’s concise and incredibly enlightening for those who want a glimpse into Haitian culture for what it truly is and not what the media has portrayed it to be. If you are a fan of Roxane Gay’s work, if you are Haitian, or if you’re just looking for a good, bite-sized read definitely go check out Ayiti by Roxane Gay.

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book review

Next up….

 
AAAAHHHHH! I’ve been dying to read this book since I heard a review calling it The Night Circus meets Hunger Games. My interest was instantly piqued and decided to keep on going on the fantasy novel express train that I’ve been riding. I’m here for it. Are you?! No spoilers please, but if you’ve read it — let me know what you think and any other similarly awesome books I should check out.

Be sure to check back for my personal review for Stephanie Garber’s Caraval. 

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book review

The Night Circus

“The circus arrives without warning” is the opening sentence to The Night Circus, setting the stage for a novel full of magic, mystery and intrigue. Author, Erin Morgenstern, takes full artistic advantage of the endless opportunities in this novel to describe visually dynamic scenes of the circus turning each reader into a rêveur of Le Cirque du Rêves.

The Night Circus is a fantasy novel that follows main characters, Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair. Both are competitors in a complex magical challenge of skill and endurance starting as early as their childhood. As the story progresses, you learn that this competition involves a lot more than just testing skill and there are consequences to every action. Morgenstern blew my mind with this novel and had me lost in the mystery of Le Cirque du Rêves. The characters are exceptionally vivid and each detail serves a purpose in the conclusion. I absolutely adored reading this book and am unsurprised that it has become a #1 National Bestseller.

Growing up, I solely read fantasy books because when I was a kid — real life was never as much fun as the fantasy worlds I got to venture into. I journeyed to Hogwarts with Harry Potter and friends, fell in love in Forks, WA in Twilight, and committed a large part of my youth to keeping up with the Vampire Academy series. As I’ve gotten older, my tastes of changed some and I’ve been trying to expand to other genres like memoirs/biographies, literary fiction, thriller and suspense novels and these are just a few among others. The Night Circus gave me a sense of nostalgia for when I clung to those stories as a child and a reminder that there’s no real age restriction for a good book.

I would recommend this to: all readers looking for something outside of their comfort zone, those who were young fantasy lovers (like myself) for the perfect nostalgic purchanse and lastly to lovers of magic, the CIrcus and a touch of romance.

 

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Books

Not That Kind of Girl

Lena Dunham’s “Not That Kind of Girl” is a collection of personal essays regarding her childhood and what she has learned in her 30 years of life. My previous books before this were all leaning toward the memoir side whereas Dunham’s writing left me wondering if these were all true accounts or truths with exaggeratingly fictitious elements. Despite Dunham’s unmistakable voice, Dunham’s stories didn’t appeal to my taste.

Dunham speaks to a startling relatable young girl’s stream of consciousness and how it not only affected her but is constantly affecting women all over the world. Much like my feelings about Dunham herself, I am still undecided. At times, I feel as though we are kindred spirits dealing with similar anxieties, body issues and passions and then there are times that her overwhelming opinions and irrational actions annoy me endlessly (see: Odell Beckham drama). I would probably recommend this to audiences between the ages of 20-30 to writers specifically but also to anyone looking to bask in the nostalgia of their youth alongside Dunham. I purchased the book and actually may be willing to give it away to someone

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