The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli| yes, yes and yes

30653853Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

I feel like there has already been a lot of great reviews surrounding this book but I will still put in my two cents.

REVIEW

I loved this book. Becky Albertalli has a way of constructing these relatable hilarious characters. I found myself saying, “yes, this character is me” to basically all the characters.

Like Molly, I was also a fat teenager. Strangely, it felt like I was reading my own autobiography because Molly’s thoughts were basically the same thoughts I had. Like Molly, I felt slightly jealous of the other girls who were getting in relationships, I noticed most of them had under size 7 bodies. I felt jealous for the so-called “sluts” because they were getting laid and they had rock hard bodies and I thought there were some type of correlation between the two. I felt guilty for thinking this throughout high school and I honestly thought something was completely wrong with me.

Some people have critiqued this book for such “another self-conscious fat girl who wants a boyfriend” and frankly I find that hilarious.  I’m going to give an example:

” Because chubby girls don’t get boyfriends, and they definitely don’t have sex. Not in movies–not really–unless it’s supposed to be a joke. And I don’t want to be a joke.”

This line may see this line as an “woe is me” type of thing but I see this as a commentary of the lack of authentic positive body representation in media/entertainment. That’s just me and some may interpret such differently

Anyways, I liked how this book was the journey of Molly trying to find confidence in her own skin. However, I also liked how it’s expressed that confidence isn’t something that’s easily handed to people and it takes time. By the end of the book, Molly doesn’t become some overly cocky woman who can take on the world. She still has her insecurities and she embraces them  and I think that’s something anybody can learn from.

Molly’s twin sister, Cassie, was also a delight. She’s a lesbian, outspoken and deeply cares for her sister. I loved her relationship with Molly and it almost felt like it was sort of their story rather than just Molly’s so that was just fucking awesome. I also just admired how how she outspoken on patriarchy and LGBTQIA+ issues and generally was just a kickass character.

“Um, let’s just start with the implication that becoming a woman has anything to do with whether or not you’ve had sex”

The relationship between Molly and Reid was adorable as shit. My favorite character relationship trope is when both characters are extremely awkward, especially when it’s first love. Frankly, first love relationships are awkward as hell and I’m glad that was portrayed in the book. I hate when books make first love like both characters know exactly what they are doing but both Molly and Reid are like “what are we supposed to do?” “I don’t know, honestly.” Like yes! It’s authentic cute dialogue that makes me squeal in delight (I never squeal but this relationship did)! And ohhh the fan art can we please. Check out this fan art because yes.

Before making my rating, I was thinking about the ending and the overall message that it might send to some readers. The whole “fat girls finds love and now she has confidence” trope. I thought about this and even considered lowering my rating. However thinking about it more, I don’t think it even presents that trope.

Usually when we see this trope in books, we have these classic lines:

“he can have all the girls in the world but he chose me”

“he likes me for me”

“he doesn’t care that I’m fat, he likes me for who I am”

I can honestly go on all day but these phrases never present themselves (at least I’m aware of, hopefully I’m accurate lmao). I honestly don’t think the main love interest, Reid even mentions her body is any way (even the other love interest, Will). Yeah, the main character is nervous about sex when because of her wait but I honestly shared those same struggles in high school too. So for those reasons I simply don’t see it. However, I do understand those who do and more if you are a fellow fat girl.

Becky also somewhat addressed this issue on her twitter here if you guys are curious.

At the end of the day, I see a book where a girl finds first love.

I applaud the healthy conversations about sex and importance of birth control. Anything that I sex positive earns an A+ from me.

Now, this doesn’t account for my rating but I think it’s good to note that this is an #ownvoices book when it comes to Molly’s underrepresented body type, her anxiety and her being Jewish. Molly and Cassie also has two moms (one of them being Jewish and the other being black),  Cassie’s girlfriend, Mina is Korean-American and pansexual, and  Reid the love interest is also Jewish. There’s a shit ton more such as POC and LGBTQIA+ wise but you get the picture.

Although the diversity aspect didn’t account for my star rating, I did take .5 away due to the fact that I wished more character arcs were explored such as the dynamics of Molly’s parents, Cassie’s girlfriend Mina, their Jewish religion, etc. I am going to give credit to the wonderful character development of Cassie though.

I wished this was published when I was in high school. This could have possibly helped me get through some tough times.

Great book by a beautiful author, would recommend.

 

Mini Reviews| Important books tbh

20701984El Deafo by Cece Bell

Published: September 2nd 2014 by Harry N. Abrams

Page count: 233

Rating:★★★★

Summary: Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school–in the hallway…in the teacher’s lounge…in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?

This funny perceptive graphic novel memoir about growing up hearing impaired is also an unforgettable book about growing up, and all the super and super embarrassing moments along the way.

Thoughts: This was sooo adorable. I found this to be amusing at time yet very educational. I’m a hearing person so it was fascinating to see how people who are deaf grow up. Cece kind of dismisses ASL and it was interesting to see behind her reasoning and how she feels about that way of language now. I took an ASL class in college and so I saw a lot a parallels between the struggles people who are deaf have to go through (people mumbling, covering their mouths, the stigmas behind people who are deaf/hard of hearing/ dismissiveness towards the community, etc).  Also, I liked how the graphic novel explored the themes of stable friendships and forgiveness two themes that are extremely important, especially for a young audience. I think children and adults will appreciate the cuteness of the comic and will learn a thing or two. This little gem is absolutely worth reading.

 

23341894Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Published: June 16th 2015 by Disney-Hyperion

Page count: 233

Rating: ★★★

Summary: Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

Thoughts I read some reviews before diving in that this was a more Disney-fied version on mental health but I think I’m going to have to disagree on that notion a tiny bit. I will admit, the romance seemed and I wasn’t really on board with Sam and AJ (note: I put ASH first because I thought that was his name lmao) because I felt like there wasn’t much connection there. I felt disconnected from the other characters and even Sam at times. However, what I really enjoyed and appreciated about this book was the amazing presence and effectiveness of Sam’s psychiatrist, Sue. Far too many times in entertainment/media, we see counselors and therapist as these bad guys and how people can’t confide in them. It was honestly such a breath of fresh air to see that psychiatrist are depicted greatly and how she helped Sam with her thinking process rather strictly telling her what to do. I also really liked the poetry aspect of the book and it made me want to buy a journal and start writing (though it would be very bad).  I didn’t completely guess the twist but I knew that some things didn’t make complete sense throughout the novel. Nonetheless, that was still an interesting addition to the book itself.

 

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner| Sorry, but the universe never thanked you.

25701463When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the  Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.

Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.

Review

You’re Welcome Universe left me feeling indifferent and slightly annoyed.

It was unbelievably difficult for me to get through this book. For some reason, it felt like I was reading a 500 page novel when in reality, this falls under 300 pages. This wasn’t a horrible per say and I’ll start with the positives just to prove that.

Although this isn’t OwnVoices, you can tell as the reader that the author did a lot of research on the d/Deaf culture. In her author’s note (something I’m going to make an effort to start doing to all the books I read for now on), Gardner explains how she had d/Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and interpreter sensitivity readers that helped with making this story authentic. Also, there is review, a person who is part of the d/deaf/hard-of-haring community, here that pretty sums up all what the book did right when it came to the representation.

It’s good to note that Julia is Indian and has two moms who are also Deaf!

Another good aspect of this book was the plot. The main character gets into this graffiti war with this mysterious person and it was fun to see their “artsy” interactions with one another. If you are an artist, you would definitely appreciate this book. However, I don’t advise others to tag personal property since 1. it’s illegal, and 2. it’s hella rude towards the property you are tagging, unless they deserve it.

There’s also a really somewhat great female friendship (Julia and “Yoga Pants”). Although there is very light romance (I honestly wouldn’t have called it a romance), this friendship took center stage. I like how “Yoga Pants” became such a loyal ally and even though she says some questionable things, she’s still eager to learn about d/Deaf culture. Although, I feel like I can’t really say the same about Julia because I felt she was terrible to “Yoga Pants” at times but I’ll save that for later. “Yoga Pants” definitely carried the friendship and made me appreciate it, even if Julia was a complete a-hole at times.

Despite these three solid points, this book unfortunately fell for me.

Julia. Oh Julia. As the story progresses, I start to hate Julia more and more. I think she was the reason why it took me so incredibly long to finish this story. She was astonishing rude and petty all the time for no apparent reason. She did something in the book out of “revenge” and it was frankly one of the most disgusting things I have ever read! Yet, she barely received any repercussions for her actions. Then she was also extremely pissed at her friend “Yoga Pants” for not really a good reason and as the reader, it was hard for me to read because she talked about her so negatively. I wanted to scream “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THIS IS SUCH A WASTE.” Julia also doesn’t have a care in the world for those around her, she constantly lies and there’s a bunch of girl hate/slut shaming that served no purpose.

Even though this was only under 300 pages, it could have honestly been a lot shorter. There were a lot of unnecessary rambles and over explanation of the art, not about the art itself but rather how she makes the art. I ended up skimming some of the paragraphs because it grew rather boring.

Also, the way that eating disorders was explored in the book left me a little uneasy. How everything was handled was kind of irresponsible and it sort of fell in the “love heals all illnesses” trope.

You’re Welcome, Universe is a book if you’re looking for pretty good d/Deaf representation and a solid plot. However, if you think you can’t stand being in a point of view of a self-absorbed teenager, then perhaps read something else.

 

 

Books I NEED to read|#1

I have a never ending mental TBR of books that I really want to get to. I thought I share with you guys some books that I plan on reading in the next couple of weeks! I will make it a goal to finished all 4 and then I’ll just keep this series going. This is sort of like a monthly TBR minus the “month” aspect. Let me know if you had read these books!

30653853The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s to Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
 
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.
 
There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

25526296Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter. No matter the cost.

27774758An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

 

18209268Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.

UPDATE: GIVEAWAY ENDS MAY 11| Blogging/Life|Possibilities

 

Hello again!

I just wanted to remind you all on my ongoing giveaway! I took away some books due to obvious reason but I also added that you all wanted on the list. Again, you just need to follow and comment. All the info and how it enter is found HERE.

I also have a couple updates I want to talk about with you guys!

  1. I said I was going to delete my blog due to mental health reasonings. This is still, I want to say, half true. After a week of talking to a university therapist, my mental health awareness club (who now knows about this blog hello fellow Active Minds member if you’re reading this) and thinking over, I’m going to sort of keep this blog. You see, I’m going to delete a lot of the posts, I’m going to even delete my blog name. However, I’m still going to keep this blog because I didn’t even realize that this is sort of a part of me now. I underestimated how much blogging truly meant to me and simple thought of this as a hobby. I love making book reviews and talking to other book enthusiasts. Literally, for this entire week, I was thinking about this blog over and over again. So instead, I’m going to start a clean slate. A New Beginning! A new name (still pending) new theme, new posts (more book reviews).
  2. I’m dropping out of college! Okay, I’m just dropping out of university. College is great and all but what they don’t tell you is that it’s almost literally impossible to pay for without taking out loans. I’m already in like 12,000 in debt so I decided to finish my last 12 or so classes at a community college back at home. I’ve learned a lot in the past year and I wouldn’t take anything back but man university kicked my ass.
  3. I’m sticking to psychology as a career. I think watching 13 Reasons Why reminded me why I wanted to do psychology in the first place: destigmatizing mental health (and the show unfortunately portrayed too many stigmas).
  4. Herbal supplements + walking+ reading+ drinking crap loads of water= very helpful equation that eases anxiety (most of the time).
  5. In my reviews, I want to focus on representation, especially surrounding mental health.

 

So yes a lot of changes. Thank you to everyone who gave me nice comments on my past post since they were very encouraging. The new and improve blog that I make is going to be more “lowkey” aka mostly book reviews  (though I’ll add some other content of course) and not set schedule (just whenever I can post)

Again thank you to everyone who has been on this journey with me.

 

[not]Deleting my blog!| No worries, the giveaway will still be going on!!!

Hello all!

This post will be my last post (well sort of). I’ve come to realized that I can no longer run this blog, especially with my current mental state.

I’ve been struggling with my mental health for years but 2017 has become on of the worst yet. I decided to make this blog because I love talking about books with other book lovers and it also became therapeutic. However, I have this constant stress of making sure my blog in running, this constant stress of writing post, this constant stress of making graphics and such. I really do try to not worry about those types of things but I have and I can’t stop.

However, I will be getting the help that I need (if you were worried :))

So instead, I’m going to keep my Goodreads running. I’ll write reviews for all the books I read so if you really want to hear my thoughts, then you can friend me on Goodreads!(since those are my favorite posts to do anyways).

Thank you to all who followed me from the beginning and the end. Thank you to those who comment and who leave likes. I love you all, I really do. I can’t thank everybody enough honestly.  Maybe one day, where I am in content, Ill start a new blog. But till then, I’m leaving the community (somewhat I’m still posting reviews on goodreads).

To the people I’m following: I will try to figure out how I can be on the mailing list so I can still see your post! I don’t want to leave completely:).

I will be deleting mostly everything from my blog except for the giveaway post, the winner of the giveaway and this one!

The Giveaway is still going on . I think I’ll change it to my Farewell giveaway! I’ll probably post reminders about the giveaway once a week as a reminder.  The requirements still requires you to follow me (you can unfollow me after it’s over) and to comment.

GIVEAWAY HERE

GOODREADS

Goodbye for now (or forever only the future can tell). To the people who friend me/going to friend me on Goodreads, see you then. Don’t worry, I wont take offense if you don’t want to be my friend on Goodreads 🙂

 

To the People Who Watched 13 Reasons Why

{enter my current giveaway!——–> here!!!!!!!}

I feel like the show lacked the importance of mental health, suicide prevention, etc so here are some friendly reminders.

  1. If you know somebody that has the symptoms of suicidal, giving them love is good, but please encourage them to seek help. If you are in high school, tell your friend about the counseling services and/or even go with them to a session. If you are in college, do the same and there’s most likely even more resources. 
  2. Signs of someone who may be thinking about committing suicide: change in mood, change in sleep pattern, change in appearance, change in eating habits, lack of care in personal hygiene, giving away personal items, withdraw from activities/people, joking/threatening about suicide/self harm, reckless behavior ([binge] drinking , smoking, etc).
  3. If your school has them, take a mental aid training session. I took a QPR (Question, Persuade, Infer) suicide course and it was amazing. You learn how to ask someone if they are thinking about committing suicide, you persuade them to not do the act, and refer them to help. This may seem like a simple process but the training provides a better insight on how to act on these three steps. There are also other courses that focuses on other aspects of mental health. Most of these courses are FREE!!!
  4. If you yourself are experiencing suicidal thoughts, you are not alone. There’s people who want to help and what you’re feeling is just temporary. Talk to a loved one and/or most importantly see a certified counselor/therapist. Take it from me, seeking help may seem scary but it’s the best thing I’ve done in my entire life and I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t. 
  5. If you know somebody who self harms, don’t judge, don’t shame. Give them the support they need. Listen to them. Don’t give them so much advice rather inform them on the resources. Be patient because self-harm addiction isn’t easy to just give up.
  6. If you yourself self-harm, look at your patterns. Do you usually self-ham on a specific day? Try to keep yourself busy during those times. Read, take a walk, blog, write, phone a friend/family member, play on your phone, pet a dog, go to the mall (window shop!) cook, CLEAN, etc. Throw away the tools you use (some people say hide but this definitely did not work for me). I may sound like a broken record but get the help you need.
  7. If you know or who is  someone who was sexually assaulted and it’s within 72 hours, urge them to go get medical assistance and perform a rape kit. Don’t let them wash themselves or their clothes. Report the crime to law enforcement. Again, be patient with them. Don’t spread their business around school/town without their consent (same goes with all these points actually). If it’s passed the time period, still do everything. Go to counseling. No one should do this alone.
  8. Triggers are real. Tell your friends about what they are getting into. THESE ARE NOT SPOILERS. SUICIDE, SELF-HARM, SEXUAL ASSAULT ARE NOT SPOILERS. I wished I wish someone told me about the content of the show.  

Suicide Prevention Hotline:  Call 1-800-273-8255. 24 hours and confidential (I have had a good experience with them). If you are feeling suicidal, please seek help because you are wanted, you deserve life.

Self Harm Hotline:  Call 1-800-273-TALK (no experience but I hope you will still consider)

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 (no experience but I hope you consider)

 

The show promoted the importance of love but let’s not forget that love does not cure mental illness. Mental health awareness is important and people should know that seeking help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Let’s promote healthy lives.

I’m always here for you all. If you want to private message me with any concerns, questions of just need someone to talk to, you can DM on Twitter @QPullum

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