Mini Reviews|Short books by Black Authors!

Binti (Binti, #1)Binti by Nnedi Okarafor [Goodreads]

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Rating:⋆⋆⋆

Review: Overall, it was a nice, at time strangely humorous, read. Binti leaves her family to find something greater than her family already has planned for her. She got accepted into a highly acclaimed college, and throughout the short book, we follow her journey as she navigates prejudice and runs into some trouble with some vengeful aliens! For some reason, despite it being a rather short read, this took me FOREVER to finish! I don’t know why and I seem to be the only one, but this wasn’t a page turner for me. However, I did think Binti is a strong but flawed female character. I sympathized with her and understood why she wanted to leave her family in the first place. I might give the other books in this series a shot!

 

For EveryoneFor Everyone by Jason Reynolds [Goodreads]

Originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, this stirring and inspirational poem is New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds’s rallying cry to the dreamers of the world.

Rating:⋆⋆⋆⋆

Review: Jason Reynolds is honestly such a gem. I decided to read this on audiobook since he narrates it and I could tell in his voice that he’s passionate and optimistic. Although the message is pretty basic, he inspires his readers and listeners to keep moving forward because that’s all you can do. I think I rated this book so high is because this came to me the right time. I recently dropped out of university, and I’m currently struggling through my summer courses. I feel overwhelmed, stress and sometimes I even question if college is the right fit for me. Reynolds words just wrapped around me and I may or may not shed a tear while listening. Again, yes the message is simple but one that I will keep remembering when I’m facing hindrances in my life.

 

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie[Goodreads]

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen SuggestionsA few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response. Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions–compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive–for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman.

Rating:⋆⋆⋆⋆

Review: Adichie is becoming one of my favorite authors! In this short, Adiche’s friend asks her how to raise a feminist daughter, so Adiche gives her 15 tips! She talks about gender roles and equality but also about how a feminist woman can navigate through a misogynistic society. Adiche really focuses on the caretaker to enforce their daughter to be independent, let them choose their own path and support them no matter what. Adiche received some backlash over her comments on trans women saying “trans women are trans women.” However, I personally believe that trans women are just women. I think Adiche was trying to say is that trans women have different experiences than cis women (which is true) and although it’s all part of feminism, we should treat both issues separately. I feel that both issues relate to one another (because again, gender is a social construct). I do wish Adiche were more inclusive to trans people in this but (just a simple “not all women have vaginas” type of statement) but overall a beautiful read.

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{Review} Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli| Realizing That Not All Authors are Perfect

31180248.jpgLeah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

TW: Biphobia (stereotypes), Racism, Bi/Sexuality Shaming

Note: swear words are in this review

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What?!??! Did I read the same book as everyone else?!?!

How did I go from giving Becky’s Albertalli’s books 4-5 stars from rating this an astounding 1.5 stars?!?!?

How come my most trusted reviewers rated this book so high?!?!?!

Ok, I liked the beginning, I really did. However, the book got progressively worse as the story continued. I never thought I would rate one of Becky Albertalli’s book so low. I thought she was becoming my queen for YA contemporary. I was even considering putting her as one of my favorite authors on Goodreads!!

But I was disappointed, angry and sad how this book turned out. It doesn’t even feel like Albertalli even wrote this.

I also thought I loved Leah. In my Goodreads update, I even said:

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But wow! What some shitty character development. I sat on this book for a couple of days, and I hated it even more.

TheBlackLit (5)

Let’s get this started. There will be some mild spoilers.

The Notorious Cliche Bi Love Triangle

Yes, there is a love triangle. Yes, it’s between a girl and a guy. No, I’m not surprised. Leah enters into some type of love triangle between Garrett and Abby. Right from the getgo, I already know that we’re supposed to be rooting for Abby. Therefore, there was LITERALLY no point of this stupid love triangle.

However, I am happy that Leah is comfortable with the label and I’m also glad she was already out to her mom. I also understand how difficult it is to come out to friends, even though I already know they won’t think different of me. I appreciated ONLY THAT part of the book when it comes to bi rep.

Family

I enjoyed reading about Leah’s family because it was similar to my own growing up. I had to deal with my mom dating other men, and I reacted the same way Leah did. I do wish the relationship between Leah and her family was more developed.

Race

I’m glad that Leah’s friend, Morgan, was called out about her racist comment over Abby getting accepted to a university just because she’s black. However, while reading this, I kept wondering “why isn’t Abby as mad as Leah?” It felt weird and was borderline “white savior” which I HATE. I did appreciate Abby’s take on the situation, saying black people have to work twice as hard when it comes to education. I know that we were from Leah’s point of view, but I wish it were Abby that put Morgan in her place, as it would have been more impactful.

Abby’s Coming Out and Leah Being an ASSHOLE.

Going into this, I had no idea who Leah’s love interest was going to be so when it came apparent that it was going to be Abby, I was…confused? It’s just they had no foundation in the last book (only Leah being jealous of Abby), so this was RANDOM.

BUT, when Abby did come out Leah, I was LIVID. This was the scene that made me despise Leah SO MUCH. When Abby told Leah that she was “lowkey bi” and Leah was like “Nah, you’re either bi or not bi” I wanted to punch Leah in the throat. She made Abby feel ashamed. Abby is struggling with her sexuality and Leah, WHO SHOULD UNDERSTAND, makes Abby feel like shit for not knowing. The worst part? IT NEVER GETS RESOLVED AND NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN. I’m honestly shocked that Albertalli wrote this and I’m even more shocked that no one is talking about this scene?!?!?!

Oh, and Leah was not just an asshole to Abby but to Garrett as well. She lied to him multiple times (NEVER EVEN TELLING THE TRUTH IN THE END) and used him just to make herself look and feel good. She dragged him throughout the entire book even though she had NO INTEREST in him.

The Romance

The romance was a big blob of meh. I didn’t see the chemistry, the spark. You know why? BECAUSE THIS WAS TOTALLY RANDOM. In Simon Vs., we were supposed to root for Abby and Nick, and we did! They got together, their connection was well-established. Boom, it was good! Why ruin that?!?! This is coming from a person who loves F|F romances more than anything, but I like GOOD F|F romances, not forced. Abby loved Leah’s art, and that was it! Leah liked Abby’s looks, and that was it! That was their spark?!??! I felt like they were just thrown together for the hell of it and it was shown through the writing. There were a lot of flashbacks of their past relationship (because apparently, they had one) but I still couldn’t get believe they actually have feelings for one another.

“Throw Up”

I swear if Leah says that she’s going to throw up every time something terrible happens, I’M GOING TO THROW UP. She says this phrase way often that it grew super annoying.

The Ending/What’s the Point?

Sloppy. No resolution, no consequences for any character’s actions, nothing. The ending was too perfect and convenient, and it just made me angry!

Also, I’m a character-driven type of reader, so I don’t mind when there’s no plot. However, what the actual hell was the point of this book? There were no lessons taught (maybe becoming a manipulator, good liar, teaching teenagers that consequences don’t exist for your actions?!?!).

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I was excited for a new Becky A. especially one featuring a fat bi main character. I was deeply disappointed, the bi rep was mediocre, I was hurt over Abby’s coming out and overall, just left a horrible taste in my mouth.

There were no cute romantic moments, the humor was “offbeat,” and the characters became 2D.

I know some people are saying that this is an excellent book for F|F romances and for bi rep but let me tell you, there are WAAAAY better books out there.

However, if you found something worthwhile out of this book, good for you! I’m glad others can see some connection to the characters and/or story. However, personally, this book did not work for me, and I do not recommend.

I will still read anything by Albertalli, but I’ll pretend this book doesn’t exist.

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MINI RAMBLE-Y BOOK THOUGHTS #1|Peter Darling, I Was Born for This, Symptoms of Being Human and GEORGE

I don’t always have time to review every book so here are my very concise general thoughts on all the books I’ve read recently! 

Peter DarlingPeter Darling by Austin Chant
TW: Suicide, Death, Some Homo/Trans phobia, Misgendering, non-accepting parents
OWNVOICES AUTHOR
Synopsis: Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is. But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.
My Rating: ⋆⋆⋆
RAMBLE-Y THOUGHTS: Neat Concept. Solid beginning, hopeful ending. Although it’s a retelling, the world building is still creative. Hook and Peter were engaging characters. Loved Tink in this version. Loved how Neverland is still a mystery. The middle dragged. Undeveloped side characters. Wished it was a bit longer.

 

Symptoms of Being HumanSymptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
TW: Anxiety, Homophobia+slurs, Transphobia+slurs, sexual assault, violence, non-accepting parents
OWNVOICES REVIEW—->here
Synopsis:Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.
My Rating: ⋆⋆⋆
RAMBLE-Y THOUGHTS: Informative and explained gender fluidity very nicely. Compelling and well developed side characters. Good discussions on whether marginalized groups should assimilate to satisfy status quo. Loved that we don’t discover Riley’s birth gender because it honestly doesn’t matter/isn’t anyone’s business. The antagonists of the book seemed a little cliche and the book dragged a bit.

 

I Was Born For ThisI Was Born For This by Alice Oseman
TW: Panic Attacks, Alcoholism,
OWNVOICES REVIEW—->MUSLIM REP
Synopsis: For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.
Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare. Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.
My Rating: ⋆⋆⋆½
RAMBLE-Y THOUGHTS: EXTREMELY relatable characters. Raw and authentic voices from both point of views. Queer+POC main characters+side characters. Friendship HEAVY. Deals with mental health in a mature way. Character driven. Promotes self-love and self-care. Although I liked it, I didn’t love it (underwhelming). The pace was slow, the ending was too fast and took forever for the two main characters to meet.

 
GeorgeGeorge by Alex Gino
TW: Misgendering, Bullying, bit of Transphobic comments, non-accepting parents
OWNVOICES AUTHOR
Synopsis: BE WHO YOU ARE.When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part… because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte – but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.
My Rating:⋆⋆⋆⋆
RAMBLE-Y THOUGHTS: Excellent pacing. George/Melissa was a delight to read about and deserves all the muffins in the world. Explains transgender well. The teacher annoyed me but I guess she was supposed to. Kelly was an amazing friend. Love that more trans middle grade is getting published. Promotes self-acceptance which is needed for middle grade. Important book today. Overall, heartwarming and adorable.

 

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{Review} Let’s Talk about Love by Claire Kann|Let’s Talk About This Adorable Read!

Let's Talk About LoveLet’s Talk About Love

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.
But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).
When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

Before you continue on, I would like to highlight THIS OWNVOICES REVIEW. They can speak more for the Ace representation for this book (I can only speak for the black and queer rep).

Initial Thoughts

I was pleasantly surprised that this book was read as a Rom-Com! I thought the repetitive parenthesis and overall cheesiness of the book would bug me, but this honestly had me laughing out loud.  Alice’s thought process was just too cute to ignore, and it was fun to be in her head

This was also almost near perfect. I had everything I look for in a YA contemporary romance novel: cute romance, lively narrative, relatable characters and complicated home life. However, not all is perfect, but I will get to that part later.

Alice 

Our main character, Alice is black and identifies as biromantic asexual. She had a relationship with a woman at the beginning of the novel and but develops a new one with a man. She comes a long line of lawyers and her family continually puts a lot of pressure on her to continue that legacy. She works in a library, and it’s also the place where she meets Takumi who immediately catches her eye.

I loved Alice. She’s flawed, has an attitude that almost reflects my own and also develops nicely throughout the story. She’s already come out as asexual to her best friends but struggles with her asexuality when it comes to relationships and her family. Her ex-girlfriend dumped her because she thought Alice “hated” sex which is, unfortunately, a common misconception when it comes to asexuality.

I also liked our Alice being asexual wasn’t just a slapped on label. We get to learn more about Alice such as her love for online streaming and food (so me). We learn she has a cutie meter which is equally adorable and creative.

Asexual/Biromantic Rep

I won’t say if this was a good representation (again refer to the own voices review) but I will say it’s nice to see “Asexual” and “Biromantic” ON PAGE. No, it’s not implied, but Alice and several other characters actually use the label. Greysexual is also mentioned on the page! A Triple YES! The book also dives deep into the differences between arousal and attraction, which is too important when trying to explain asexuality. Misconceptions are also shot down, and stereotypes are never used.

Race

There wasn’t a lot of discussions about race in the book, but there were subtle racist comments about Alice that many black people, especially black women, have to face today. I don’t know why the phrase “you’re cute for a black girl” is still used as a pickup line! Alice doesn’t necessarily call them out on it, but she doesn’t blatantly ignore these comments either. The book also discusses how black folks have to work much harder in school and the workplace to be taken seriously in which I can attest to. Although my GPA is gogreatod, I always feel I have to prove myself, especially when I’m trying to get the respect of my peers and classmates. I appreciate seeing this struggle in book form since I sometimes I feel alone ( *sigh* there’s little to no black people where I live).

The Relationship

The relationship between Alice and Takumi was honestly adorable. Both were intrigued by each other from the start, but it was still slow burn. This book didn’t really have a plot, and it was more of the development of their relationship, but I did not care at all. I loved their dates, their dialogue, their facial expressions, just everything. However, at times, I felt they were a little too dependent on one another, but it wasn’t too bad.

The Friendships

Okay, in MY OPINION, I didn’t like Feenie or Ryan. I thought they were too petty when Alice started hanging out with Takumi more than them even though they ditch Alice all the time. I get the message that when you get into a relationship, you should never ditch your friends or forget about them but their fight was still tiresome. I felt like I was supposed to care about this subplot but all I didn’t???? BUT, I did like how Feenie and Ryan weren’t judgy with Alice being asexual, even though they already knew since the beginning. I can tell there is a deep bond between the trio and maybe I wish there were more chapters that really explained their friendship so I can further understand their connection.

Therapy

A positive therapy book is my favorite book, especially one that doesn’t have a main character with a mental illness. Alice seeks therapy to talk through her struggles with being asexual and how to be more open in general. Therapy is NORMALIZED in the book. I also love how her therapist doesn’t just “solve” the problems. The therapist isn’t always right, but Alice still considers his suggestions. Oh, the therapist is a man who is never seen in book form (or if he is, he is the “ineffective” therapist).

Final Thoughts

I heard the original draft was a mess when it came to the ace rep and the relationship between Alice and Takumi. I can say that initial draft problems didn’t enter the final draft (again can’t speak about the ace rep)! Even if you’re not black or identify as ace, you can take something from this book. It’s a heavy friendship book and also chronicles the struggles of college students.

Also, even though the writing takes getting used to, I thought it was always engaging, and the pace was excellent. The reason why I give a lot of contemporaries 3 stars is that they’re times where the story just drags, or I’m just flat out bored. With this one, I never felt such. I highly recommend, but again, I would refer to the biromantic rep review as they can offer more in detail about the representation.

Memorable Quote: ” I am very loving, I cry at the end of romcom. My favorite movie is Splash. I want someone to give me flowers and take me on dates. I want to fall in love and wear a giant princess dress at my wedding. I want to have a happy ending, too, and all that other magical stuff. I want what books and TV and the world has promised me. It’s not fair that I should have to want sex to have it.”

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{review} The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka|A Compelling Mystery With an Even More Compelling Bisexual Protagonist

The Last Place You Look (Roxane Weary, #1)The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka [Goodreads]

Sarah Cook, a beautiful blonde teenager disappeared fifteen years ago, the same night her parents were brutally murdered in their suburban Ohio home. Her boyfriend Brad Stockton – black and from the wrong side of the tracks – was convicted of the murders and sits on death row, though he always maintained his innocence. With his execution only weeks away, his devoted sister, insisting she has spotted Sarah at a local gas station, hires PI Roxane Weary to look again at the case.
Reeling from the recent death of her cop father, Roxane finds herself drawn to the story of Sarah’s vanishing act, especially when she thinks she’s linked Sarah’s disappearance to one of her father’s unsolved murder cases involving another teen girl. Despite her self-destructive tendencies, Roxane starts to hope that maybe she can save Brad’s life and her own.

TW: Murder, Rape/Sexual Assault, Alcohol/Substance Abuse

Initial Thoughts

I had no expectations when it came to The Last Place You Look. I never heard of the author, never seen a single review on Youtube or on WordPress, and honestly only found it because I looked up “LGBT mystery/Thrillers.” The Synopsis looked compelling enough and luckily, my library had it available.

After finishing this, it’s astonishing that no one ever talked about this series, like at all.

This was fast-paced, where we were immediately pulled into the plot. Brad Stockton is sitting on death row after being convicted for murdering his girlfriend’s (who is also missing and assumed dead) parents. Roxane gets hired by Brad’s sister after claiming that she saw Brad’s girlfriend at a gas station, hoping that Roxane can prevent her brother’s execution. When she looks at her father’s unsolved cases, she makes a connection with one of them, wondering if they can be related. From there on, the story goes full speed.

Although this short summary may seem like a simple case, Roxane discovers that it’s going to be a lot harder to find the answers she seeks. Every other 2 chapters there is a new discovery that throws Roxane and the reader completely off and the case becomes even more complicated. It’s a page turner and I was never bored.  

I also liked that Brad’s race wasn’t ignore and Roxane even admits that him being black may have a role in the entire case.

The Twist

In every mystery/thriller there’s going to be an unexpected twist, especially near the end. Of course that is what happened in this book. The ultimate twist at the end kind of shocked me but at the same time, I sort of saw it coming. The journey getting there was executed really well and everything made completely sense. 

Our Main Character

I’m a Gillian Flynn fan. She creates these anti-hero, aloof, morally gray characters and that’s what generally like in most of my mystery novels.

However, with our main character Roxane, she’s quite the complete opposite. Yes, she is on the brink of a serious alcohol problem, has the complicated relationships and her father’s death definitely put a huge toll on her, but overall, she’s an amiable go-getter private investigator. She’s very cooperative with the police but also doesn’t let them push her around. Her father’s death is always on her mind, especially since she believes that he wasn’t proud of who she became. She originally took the case because she needed the money and was tired of sulking but she didn’t half-assed her job, even if at times she wanted to. She finds things and she’s great at it. As I read, I want to both be and be with Roxane because she is such a kickass character. 

Roxane is also bisexual! I loved seeing representation in the novel since I never read a mystery book featuring a bi main character. What I liked about bisexuality in the book is that no one questions it. Maybe because Roxane isn’t a teenager but it’s awesome to see other characters understand rather them stereotyping Roxane. It’s prominent that Roxane is bisexual but it isn’t really part of the plot which is honestly really refreshing.

Tropes/Themes

This book does have one of my least favorite bi tropes: the girl/girl/guy love triangle.I will say that it isn’t that in your face where the main character contemplates who she really wants to be with in the end. This love triangle is  definitely not part of the major plot or even the major side plot. It’s a tiny part of the story but doesn’t deter the narrative or Roxane’s character which I can appreciate especially from a non-romance book.

Aloof PI/Detective Female Character: Another trope I’m glad this book did not fall victim of is the typical woman in a mystery/thriller novel. For some reason, a lot of thrillers have women seem to always be involved in casual sex, who are aloof and sarcastic I mean, hey, I love those characters but it’s nice to see some variety in characterizations and personalities, especially in adult thrillers. 

Race: Although this was not the vocal point of the story, it was not ignored. Brad is black and the author dives into the prejudices that people may have towards black men.  The conversations of dating outside ones race and attitudes of black men in jail was done well, even if it wasn’t a black #ownvoices book.

Negatives

There isn’t really a lot of weaknesses. The only minor flaw I found is that there are a couple of mental health/psychological terms used to describe someone who does not fall into that mental illness but is just used as an insult/adjective.I hate that a lot of crime thrillers have these terms so it’s one of my personal pet peeves. Other than that, this story was pretty solid.

Final Thoughts

This is one of the best mystery thrillers I’ve read in awhile. The characters are full of depth and the story is fleshed out without any plot holes. I’m glad to that there’s more books in this series and I can’t wait to read the rest! Highly recommend The Last Place You Look. 

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{review} Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn|A Likable Book Full of Unlikable Characters

Gone GirlOn a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

 

“Friends see most of each other’s flaws. Spouses see every awful last bit.”

Gone Girl is one of those books that I’m not sure where I lie in the spectrum of loving a book. Do I “LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH 10/10 WOULD RECOMMEND” or do I “like the book…yeah it was pretty good.”

This is the first book that I’m not rating a 5 star by Gillian Flynn and it honestly makes me so sad. I still liked the book, I don’t think I loved it but I liked it. The characters were aloof and flawed, just like I like them and the plot in general was intriguing.

However…

This took me years to read. No, I’m not kidding! This took me about 3 years to actually finish the book. I love Gillian Flynn, especially her strongest and in my opinion, her grittiest book, Dark Places. With Gone Girl, the beginning is extremely slow, almost unbearably slow. I finally decided to listen to the first 100 pages or so on audiobook and oh boy did that help tremendously! After listening to the boring stuff, I switched back to a physical copy and I couldn’t put it down!

Nick’s wife, Amy, randomly goes missing on their anniversary. Flynn alternates point of views, one being Nick and the other being Amy’s diary entries prior to her disappearance.Honestly that’s all you should know about the book in terms of plot because it’s a wild ride from there.

Initial Thoughts

Again, the beginning was brutal because it was mostly the background of Nicks and Amy’s marriage. From when they first met, their families, their jobs, their financial troubles, it was difficult to get through most of those part because I simply didn’t care. I wanted to get into the nitty gritty, the investigation! It took about 150 pages to get to that and it was so excruciating, Again, it took me literal YEARS to complete this book,

When we got more into the investigation, when more secrets were revealed, that’s when the novel truly became a page turner. We learn more about the characters, main and side, and everyone’s true intentions. We think we know a character but they do something so shocking that changes everything.

It’s difficult to talk about this book without spoiling because so much happens in the second half but I don’t want to give much away.

The Characters

The characters is what really makes the novel shine. Nick is the one of the most unlikable characters in the story and a little bit of an unreliable one at that. His reactions to his wife going missing is sketchy (smiling during a press conference about the case) and his behavior is questionable (constantly lying to the police). Of course Nick is going to claim that he had nothing to do with his wife being missing but as the reader, we question his real story. Also, to be frank, Nick is honestly just an asshole. He talks badly about women and is not afraid to call them every sexist name in existence. He says he’s misogynistic to one woman but the way he mentions any woman is very negative and cruel. It was really difficult to fully root for him.

Amy is a character that was also hard to particularly love. Amy is famous from the Amazing Amy books that her family created. She’s ultimately is a privileged white woman who complains that her family is taking away her trust fund since they ran out of money. I mean, I get she might be a little salty because the family profited on her existing through the Amazing Amy books but it was still just annoying. Other secrets are also revealed in the novel and I will just say she is a big time narcissist.

We also have Nick’s sister Margo aka Go who also develops nicely. Then there are the  detectives of the case and we wonder if they are the good or bad guys. We have a bunch of other side characters/suspects with questionable integrity. Overall, it was a nice cast of characters who were all developed to have some type of unique role in the story, both little and big.

A Few Negatives (super brief because spoilers)

The inconsistencies in characterization: We are told some characters act a certain way but near the end,they totally change abruptly. We are not really given much of a reason why they do change so that was kind of confusing.

The ending:  The ending was…weird. It went by a little too fast. Wish there was a little bit more of an explanation so that I can understand more of the decisions that were made.

Nick’s father: At least in my opinion, he provided nothing to the story both plot and character wise. I think I get why he might have been added but the execution was just poor.He was just underdeveloped and he could have probably just been written out completely and nothing in the story would have changed.

The Twists

Based on Nick’s character, one of the main twist wasn’t that surprising. Nick mentions the ever so popular “it’s always the husband” cliche/trope but another popular trope also presented itself in the story as well. The biggest twist actually took me by surprise! I feel like it’s one of those things that maybe I should have known based on past reviews and people’s overall attitude towards certain characters but all those hints went completely over my head.

Some Memorable Themes

Marriage Dynamics: What this book does well is dive into the complications of marriage dynamics. Amy is more into adventure while Nick rather stays put. Amy is more of a problem solver while Nick is a problem avoider or rather do stuff easy way. In their younger years, Amy didn’t work that much because of her wealthy family but Nick reveals he had 3-4 jobs at age 14  to help provide for his struggling family. From these contradictions, it’s difficult to see how these two people could connect in a personal level. The book shows the clashing of Nick and Amy because of their differences but Flynn also reveals some type of common ground that makes it work in a unique way (is it healthy? That’s the reader to decide).

Reality vs Fantasy: The characters struggle between the difference of reality and fantasy, especially with Nick and Amy. Both characters paint a different picture on what their marriage was really like (hens again, both unreliable characters) and it was interesting to see their own perceptions and experiences. Even the reader is tricked from time to time on what’s real and what’s deceiving.

Final Thoughts

I can see why people may think this is Flynn’s best work. It’s different from her other mystery thrillers and the ending was definitely out of the ordinary. I liked it but from the slow beginning and the minor flaws this was not my favorite. I  still highly recommend, the writing was still great, the characters were three dimensional and the twists were o point. I’m now a Gillian Flynn completest and I will say she’s one of my favorite authors. I can’t wait to see what she writes in the future!

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Hunger by Roxane Gay|A Raw and Authentic Narrative About a Women’s Body

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) BodyIn her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her own past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.
With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved—in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

Trigger Warnings: Rape, Eating Disorders, Anorexia, Bulima, Fatphobia

Initial Thoughts: “YES”

REVIEW

Oh this book.

It’s raw, it’s real, it’s a book that I haven’t read before and I honestly don’t think I will ever read again.

I’ve been a fan of Roxane Gay for a while. Granted, I only read one of her books, Difficult Women, and I instantly fell in love. The stories were well-crafted, the emotional aspects and complexities of her characters were evident and I honestly just saw so much heart into these narratives.

However, despite proclaiming Roxane Gay to be my favorite author, Difficult Women was the only book I’ve read by her. So I decided to give one of her newer books a go and oh boy this went a little too close to home for me.

While reading, some of Gay’s daunting and cruel thoughts about other people and herself, I literally kept saying “Oh God, I’m not the only one!”

Roxane Gay narrates her body’s journey, from her sexual assault, school, family, college, TV shows, and public places. Her body has had a lot of painful experiences, especially from a society who values a women’s figure rather women themselves. She talks about relationships such as with her past romantic partners, her family, diet/fitness gurus and her body. This isn’t a self help book where the fat person loses 100+pounds and tells you the ways of a healthy fulfilling “skinny” life. No, this is a story about what is like to live in a body that you loathe so much but is also scared to go away.

“What does it say about our culture that the desire for weight loss is considered a default feature of womanhood?”

What I love about Hunger was that it was brutality honest and doesn’t sugar coat anything. When it comes to her rape story, she calls herself the victim rather than the survivor because she doesn’t want to empower her experience since it was so horrible. She mentions people with eating disorders and how she’s actually jealous of people who have them because they are so discipline but feeling bad you have these feelings. She talks about people in society views fat people (especially TV shows such as the Biggest Loser) and how society can make you think you don’t deserve love.

Gay makes an extremely valid point on the attitudes of being fat. People don’t understand that it’s a constant struggle and almost being anxious at every social situation. From public bathrooms (using the bigger stalls) from worrying about something so trivial like chairs, and from stairs being almost a public horror display, being fat is not easy.  There is some stigma with fatness. “Why don’t you just get up and lose the weight?” “Dieting isn’t that hard” “Get a gym membership.” Gay isn’t a stranger to these comments and even does everything they say. However, in Gay’s point of view, her body has become her protection due to past experiences and difficult to give up that protection.

I’ve personally struggled with my weight for years. When I was a kid, I didn’t weigh much but when I entered middle school, I gained so much weight (I believe I might have been close to 200 at the time) A lot of middle schoolers complained that they weren’t “big enough” for the JR/teen section at department stores but I was already deep into that size of clothing. I became jealous of them that they have something to complain about. I became so insecure of my body that the only article of clothing I wore was jeans and a hoodie and no joke that’s all I wore. Noticeable in high school, people would always comment “why are you always wearing a sweater? It’s almost 90 degrees?” And I was just say, “eh it’s my style.”  I couldn’t show my arms, my legs, my skin, the outline of my belly because I was so insecure about myself. I hated going to school, with people looking at me, with my whole self on display.

Like Gay, I tried to “fix the problem.” I tried motivating myself by watching the biggest loser, tried all the diets out there, and I even started binging and purging. The binging/purging didn’t last super long though because frankly I was super bad at that. I hated my body so much that I wanted to punish it. When Gay talked about punishing herself, I almost went into tears because I was once that person too. Instead, I use a razor in order to punish myself for not even being able to binge/purge. I’m still struggling with my weight today. It’s a physical and mental roller coaster. Trying to be happy in a body that other sees as dissatisfying puts a toll on someone.

Gay teaches us that we shouldn’t punish ourselves for being who we are. We shouldn’t punish ourselves about not satisfying society’s standards of physical beauty. We shouldn’t punish ourselves at all.

This is one of those books that I’m probably am going to end up buying in the near future (although I don’t buy books anymore). I’m glad someone finally wrote a book that talks about being fat in a humane and honest way instead of trying to motivate the reader to “fix the problem”

There’s so much more to unravel with this novel but I will leave you with this. Open your mind and read this book. Set aside past prejudices, the glamorizations of losing weight, and all the typical things society wants us to do. Just read and learn.

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