Feminism, Friendship, and the Importance of Bonding.

Think back to a time when you discovered your first friend. I remember mine like it was yesterday. We spent everyday together playing outside, riding bikes, and coming up with puerile story lines for our dolls. Everything was easy back then and we didn’t have to worry about politics, sexism, racial sensitivity, or fighting for a cause. Simply playing and having fun was the core of our friendship. Now as an adult, I realize of course how much goes into an friendship and how similar values matter within that friendship. Even as a child, we look for friends that have similar interests. Do you like being outside? How many Barbie dolls do you have? What do you watch on Saturday mornings? Can you recite the opening song of Clarissa Explains It All ? When we become older, the questions become more complex and imperative. We weed out those that don’t align with our same values, and keep those that do. It’s important to us adults that we surround ourselves with those that are like-minded, right?

As women, there is a distinctive line that draws us apart. Feminists vs. Non Feminists. Even within those two divides, women are continually split into subgroups.  We battle with intersectional feminism and the importance of inclusion. The very people we call “sisters” seem to turn their back when we need them the most. We go back to those presiding questions about friendship and weigh them heavily:  How can I be friends with someone when we don’t have the same views? You don’t have to. You are allowed to be picky with whom you allow in your circle. Not everyone is meant to be your cheerleader and not everyone is your worst enemy either. The tired rhetoric of kumbaya or “let’s all get along” is just not realistic. Respect those with varying and different opinions, but know when to surround yourself with people with similar values. Friendship is much stronger when it’s authentic and true. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for deleting a person or “friend” that doesn’t fit your standards. I’m not going to play sisterhood with everyone, and neither should you. I’m okay with having different opinions than you, and I respect you, but I don’t have to be your BFF.

I encourage all of you to cherish those adult friendships you have now, and to keep fighting for what you believe in. I’m so proud of the women out there fighting for our rights, and those that participated in the Women’s March all across the U.S., let’s keep up the good work. womens-march

As for books, I compiled a list of reading books that are all about friendship and feminism. Keep the love circulating and let’s continue supporting one another.

  1. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color- Cherríe L. Moraga Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Toni Cade Bambara

    313110

  2. Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism- Daisy Hernandez Bushra Rehman , Cherríe L. Moraga

    61442

  3. The Color Purple-Alice Walker

11486

4. The Help-Kathryn Stockett

5.Arab & Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, & Belonging- Rabab Abdulhadi , Evelyn Alsultany , Nadine Naber

8698126

6. Fangirl-Rainbow Rowell

8.Separate Roads to Feminism: Black, Chicana, and White Feminist Movements in America’s Second Wave-Benita Roth

1006784

Book Review: A Torch Against the Night-Sabaa Tahir

torch

Running  through the desert, trying to save not only themselves but a mass of Scholars from a giant Empire purge, Laia and Elias are now fugitives clinging to the hope of life. The sequel to An Ember in the Ashes comes back and is full of more adventure and tricky plot. Sabaa Tahir  has solidified her place as a top Y.A. novelist and specialist in all things adventure. I was happy to pick up A Torch Against the Night, and divulge in the mass fandom. It’s no secret why this novel is beloved among many; it’s simply a gripping story with characters to hate and love, and unforeseen heroes.

After the fourth trials and the beginning of the reigning era of Marcus, Elias and Laia flee the city of Serra and are headed to Kauf prison to help free Laia’s brother Darin. Favor does not come to their side as they battle death, spirits, the Empire, and friends turned enemies. Familiar characters return and if you loathed Marcus and the Commandant before, the hatred will only grow deeper. There is a mass revolt by the Scholars, and bloodthirsty Marcus and the chilling Commandant waste no time killing anyone in their way. As Helene is the new Blood Shrike she is bound to Marcus’ will and must face killing hunting and killing her best friend Elias. The constant struggle between powers, families, and friends are weighted differently for each character. The internal and external battles create tension that make the characters choose: life of death?

This book was e v e r y t h i n g. It includes all of the Y.A. novel staples plus so much more. I am always impressed with Sabaa Tahir’s writing. This novel definitely explores the characters more psychologically, which I thought was well played by Tahir. However some may think the plot is slightly slower. Because this is a typical Y.A. novel, it wouldn’t be complete without a love triangle. However Tahir really makes it interesting with unexpected plot twists. Helene’s character is explored more in this novel and Tahir makes her complex yet strong and resilient. I applaud how the writer crafts the women in the novel; all of the women are these strong fighters with byzantine backgrounds. The novel is broken into three POVs: Elias, Laia, and Helene.Every character plays an integral role in shaping the story and gives the reader a different experience with their point of view. Tahir leaves you dangling on each word as the characters simultaneously cling to their life. Everything is left bare for the reader to truly discover all the evilness, desperation, and emptiness. Hats off to you Sabaa Tahir, I’ll be waiting for the next installation.

Book Review: Underground Airlines-Ben H. Winters

23208397

Take a moment and imagine an alternate reality where slavery still exists in modern America. Perhaps, to some, it may seem as if we are already living that reality on a smaller scale. Ben H. Winters’ new novel titled Underground Airlines creates an alternate history where the Civil War never happened, Abraham was assassinated before he took oath to be president and slavery still presides in the  four southern states  appropriately called the “Hard Four.” Modern references to pop culture make the tale hauntingly eerie as the nature of the book seems quite real. The United States often looked at as a beacon of hope, is now a country with a deviating moral compass. Winters makes America a social outsider, one that relies on foreign aid.

The protagonist Victor was once a former slave who escaped to the North. However he was caught by the Federal Government and forced to work undercover as an agent or “soul catcher”, collecting other runaway slaves and returning them back to the South as a  way to maintain his freedom. His recent case brings him to Indianapolis where Victor is looking for a runaway slave by the name of Jackdaw. Through his pursuit of Jackdaw, Victor becomes closer to the truth of slavery and the oppressive system happening in America.

Unfortunately, this book fell short for me in many ways. The concept was an interesting one to say  the least, however the delivery wasn’t quite there. The characters were wooden and stiff, and Victor’s character was written very shallow. I found that the story’s main point didn’t connect, and it read as a lumpy bit of text to me. Winters come up with a great concept for a novel, however he doesn’t make that idea extraordinary as the plot and characters fall flat.

Let’s Get Political: Books on Government and the Bloody World of U.S. Politics

1_ovzjwd1g7d0h7tar9tvcdw

Let’s all take a deep breath for a moment as we let the current election sink in and realize that our future is looking like #Trump/Pence for the next four years. I’m not going to go on a political rant about the election or my dislike for Trump. We can’t change the  outcome, but we can change the future and  get educated on how our political parties run. I was surprised to find how many people really don’t know how U.S. politics work, which is understandable because it’s a difficult puddle to wade through. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and get to work; let’s fix what we don’t like. Although I’m all for a good meaty discussion about politics with the opposing sides, I do know better than to argue not knowledgeable on a subject. It’s better to fight educated and informed than to enter the ring blind. For your reading pleasure, I’ve made a list of great books to read about U.S. politics. I encourage all of you to read up on the facts and learn more about American politics and the judicial system. Some of the material is daunting, but it’s well worth the read if you’re curious about what goes on in Capital Hill.

The Conscience of a Conservative-Barry Goldwater

conscience-of-con

What’s the Matter with Kansas?-Thomas Frank

whatsthematterwithkansas

The New Jim Crow-Michelle Alexander

home_book_cvr

Our Revolution-Bernie Sanders

51lwvssdl-l__sx327_bo1204203200_

Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama-Tim Wise

51duzfsolcl

The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism, and White Privilege-Robert  Jensen

51eqzqgfgl__sx359_bo1204203200_

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America-George Packer

51thsfstf4l__sy344_bo1204203200_

While this list is small, the contents are magnanimous and will surely aid you in finding answers to how America is governed. I refuse to sit and be complacent with our impending future. It’s past the time to question, to reason, to evaluate. Our country can’t propel forward unless we do. I’ve been a little confounded in how accepting the media and news has been about Donald Trump’s presidency.  It’s like we are expected to just move past this terrible loss of humanity. There are many ways in which we can take an active participation in this new future; let’s work together to get educated. As an African American women I can already see blatant racism bubbling and bursting forth. Trump’s presidency will not stop me from driving forward and  creating ripples everywhere. If I have to live in this America where racism and sexism has the face of a president, then the entire four years you will hear my voice right along side of it, pushing against the force.

America, let’s do better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Part 1 & 2-J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany.

harry-potter

After nearly a decade, Harry Potter  returns. This time as an adult, married to Ginny Weasley with three children of his own. The story was quite different as it is in play form, one that was opened in London July 30, 2016. J.K. Rowling presents a script form version of the story. Those who grew up with the Harry Potter series are able to revisit characters and be introduced to a new world, where the plot is intertwined with new and old. The story has something for everyone to enjoy, and with world wide popularity of the story it received much praise and criticism.

Harry, Ron, and Hermoine return to the wizarding world as adults, married, and with children. Harry is married to Ginny with two sons, James Sirius and Albus Severus, and a daughter named Lily Luna. Ron and Hermoine are married to each other with one daughter named Rose. Clouds loom overhead as a certain “darkness” tempts its’ return. There to witness this new found darkness is Harry’s son, Albus. Readers see Albus and Harry’s relationship pulse with tenseness as Albus deals with the weight of a famous father, and  not being a Gryffindor. Harry’s struggles with being  a father to a teenager is ultimately the catalyst that drills the events in the story. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is Albus’ venture into a different wizarding world, yet finds himself going back in time reliving the same world as his father. Beloved characters are reintroduced and new characters take the play into a direction that is somewhat predictable yet fresh, and fun to read. The play is much more introspective as the character development outweighs the action. Harry, Ron, Hermoine still are participatory in the plot, as they help contain and defeat the harrowing darkness. If approached right, readers can have an enjoyable experience with this newest addition to the series.

As expected, there were many who disliked “Harry Potter and Cursed Child” simply because it was play or because it read like fan fiction. Both are true, however I applaud Rowling for exploring a creative avenue that keeps her story of the “Boy Who Lived” alive. Her story will forever be in rotation on many platforms (novel, audio, merchandise, amusement parks, plays, film, etc.) and you have to respect her for keeping her brand prevalent.  Yes, this play read like fan fiction and I was hoping for a bit more. I went into it with low expectations, and it made my reading experience better because I wasn’t as crushed. The “adventure” part of the play is not as heavy as is the character development, especially between Harry and Albus. I actually really liked how real their relationship was. It showed the flawed  gritty bits of fatherhood to a teenager. The play isn’t very vast, and it isn’t going to give you everything you originally found in the novels. Instead, it gathered the main crowd pleasing parts of the series, and created a play. At times, the plot/play seem too contrived and generic and definitely read as fan fiction. It wasn’t the best work-but it did what it meant to do- entertain. Fans of the Harry Potter series were disappointed, and as a fellow Potter fan myself, I was little unsatisfied. If you approach it for what it is, and know that it WILL be different from the novels you’ve read, you’ll probably end up liking it more than if you read it with expectations for it to be like the previous novels. It’s worth a try, especially if you enjoy the characters and want a little nostalgia.

Have you any of read the play? Thoughts?

Book Review: Fingersmith-Sarah Waters

fingersmith-2

Scandal wrapped in twisting lies, a hidden countryside manor, and a smoky London, make for a novel that is worth sifting through. Waters does it again with her Victorian setting, with of course two lovers at the center of the novel. Although the novel is a hefty 582 pages long, towards the end, you wont even realize how many pages you’ve sifted through as the mystery pulls you in. It’s no secret Sarah Waters  loves a good scandal and is particularly noted for the use of lesbian lovers during the Victorian age. I admire how Waters writes two female lovers during a time where that subject was quite taboo and frowned upon. Fingersmith has been adapted to  film one in English and recently a  South Korean rendition of the movie called 아가씨(Handmaiden). A beautiful novel that has many hidden untruths, Fingersmith is definitely a Waters novel that shouldn’t be overlooked.

agassi
South Korean adaptation 아가씨
fingersmith
BBC two part series Fingersmith

Susan Sue Trinder, an orphan, is raised in the mist of lower working class and grows up amongst thieves and traders and those whose work must be hid from the law. Her home includes interesting characters, and under the matriarchy of Mrs. Sucksby,  they live a simple yet duplicitous life. Sue’s life changes from one of plebian status to a being lady’s maid to a wealthy young women of an astute country side manor. The plan to change Sue’s life is conducted by a man, Richard Rivers (Gentleman as the London streets deem him) as he has the idea to take Sue to be the  of a woman and convince her to marry Mr.Rivers, thus swindling her of her inheritance. Sue agrees, and together both her and  Mr. Rivers set off to the country. It is here where we meet Maud, a simple woman living a recluse life with her uncle. Maud is made to accompany her uncle with writing certain “ribald” texts. When Maud and Sue and Mr. Rivers meet, the plan comes to fruition and the relationship between  the women grow deeper. The story of course becomes more contorted as the scheme to take Maud’s fortune goes awry. The novel is very reminiscent of all of Water’s writing with plot twists, loose characters, and a very befitting Victorian romance.

I’ve been a long time fan of Sarah Waters and I really admire her writing style. She sticks to what she knows and does a fantastic job at it. The novel is broken into thirds told from the different perspectives of the two women. Sue’s perspective was the most interesting in my opinion, and it offered more of the twisted plot. Water’s does well in setting the scene and the supposed disposition of the characters. Fingersmith has been referred to as Dickens-esque novel, and I would agree that Sarah Waters does a fine job in emulating yet creating a new Victorian London. This novel wasn’t my favorite of hers, but I did enjoy the mass of it. It takes a while to get through the first third, and it is quite slow. I had high expectations of the  novel after viewing the South Korean movie version 아가씨, but I was a little disappointed in the novel as it read dry and dull, leaving  me feeling lackluster at the end. Waters could have done more in this novel to make it more exciting, but it fell short with often boring repetition and characters who were less than fascinating. The character development doesn’t extend beneath surface level, and the “villainy” is scooped together and placed towards the end, making the reader dredge through the first half of the novel, being teased for what is to come. While I wouldn’t recommend to the general reader, I would suggest it to a person who like Victorian literature or is a Charles Dickens fan.

 

Book Review: We Love You, Charlie Freeman-Kaitlyn Greenidge

grid-cell-12809-1453232642-4

I’ve been really enjoying reading books by blacks authors this summer. Each author has delivered a unique and interesting perspective into black ancestry, history, and culture. When it comes to African American ancestry, it often turns into a painful reminder that so much of our culture and history was eradicated by white people.  This summer has been about loving, embracing, re-seeking and reclaiming our history through the various types of books I have read. Diversifying your reading is so important on many different aspects as it allows you to gain a better perspective on a multitude of races. In her debut novel We Love You, Charlie Freeman, author Kaitlyn Greenidge ties race, family, sisterhood, ancestry into a story that is both interesting and enlightening.

The Freemans family journey to the Toneybee Institute in Massachusetts to take part in a social experiment by raising Charlie, a chimpanzee as a part of their family.  Part of the research and experiment is to teach Charlie sign language which the family is well versed in. The Freemans must start a new life in a secluded neighborhood and apartment, quite different from life they had previously known. The story focuses on a few perspectives, but the primary narrator Charlotte gives the reader her perspective on how she deals with being the only black girl in a very white surrounding, as well as adjusting as a freshman at a new school. Each family deals with the research experiment in their own way, but when a deep secret is revealed about the project, everyone is affected and reacts differently. Greenidge uses many literary devices to raise important questions about race and black ancestry. Throughout the story there are flashbacks to a woman named Nymphadora who helped the Toneybee Institute, although in a grotesque and exploitive way. Greenidge places heavy weights on the pages, but does it in a way to not deter her readers and keeps them intrigued throughout the duration of the novel.

When I read this was Kaitlyn Greenidge’s debut novel, I was so impressed with the quality of writing she exemplifies. You can tell she did her research; and she writes so thoroughly and clean she easily can pass as a seasoned writer. I love that she talks about race and ancestry in a unique way, that doesn’t seem to scream a very wearying rhetoric of “American slavery during the nineteenth century.” She doesn’t write about a family raising a chimp, but a black family raising a chimp which draws interesting comparisons scientists have conducted throughout the ages on black people. I also enjoyed how she brought up race in way that didn’t feel like a hammer hitting your head, but you definitely felt the weight of her words. This book is layered, and although some of the layers are hard to understand, they are vital and necessary in order to tell this story. Charlotte’s narration was by far my favorite as she was so introspective and inquisitive. There was also the layer of Charlie the chimpanzee being a family member but also a science project, loved but also probed. The relationships and themes in the novel seem to be placed in a petri dish and peered at through a microscopic lens which allows the author to conduct an experiment on her readers as well. How science and history often go hand in hand, and the author does a fantastic job drawing these two things together. Greenidge is one to watch, and I’m thrilled to have taken part in her first novel. I’m a fan of this book and would recommended this to anyone wanting something out of the ordinary. Praise to the author Kaitlyn Greenidge and her novel that is both progressive and nods to the historicism.