Good Talk

Author: Mira Jacob

Published: March 26, 2019

Publisher: One World (Random House) 

Where I picked up my book:  Purchased from local bookstore

Key Words: graphic novel, memoir, identity, interracial families, politics

My Rating: 5 (ALL THE STARS!!)

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My Thoughts:

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! At first, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t sure about the fact that it was a graphic novel. I remember lovinggggg Maus by Art Spiegelman though when I read it in high school, so I thought I might enjoy this one too. And I was wrong. I didn’t just enjoy it, I LOVED LOVED LOVED this one and I am officially a convert to the graphic novel and will forever and always choose a graphic novel without hesitation from now on. In fact, I got so excited reading it-I started working on a graphic novel myself. I am an artist and a writer (nothing official, but in my heart-that’s what I am) and I can’t even believe I hadn’t thought of combining those two loves and created something powerful. It’s all talk on my end right now, but I’m excited about it! There are some things that I want to say and I want the world to hear, but creating something with only words didn’t seem quite right for me, or for the subject I wanted to talk about. Once I read Good Talk though, I had my ah-ha! moment and I’m excited. But…I digress. SO-if you’re anything like me, do not hesitate for one second to pick this one up. It’s powerful (probably even more powerful as a graphic novel) and I promise, you will not be disappointed!

Second, the amount of topics that Jacob covers is bewildering to me! I should say, the amount of topics she thoroughly covers in a beautiful, thought-provoking, intimate way… is bewildering to me! She delves into immigration, American identity, interracial families, politics, our divided nation (and sometimes, divided friendships and families), Obama’s election (YAY), the 2016 election (BOO), love, racism, sexuality and so much more. Somehow, she does it in a beautiful, thought-provoking, non-rushed, powerful way that will have you gushing to everyone you come in contact with.

Third, the artwork in here is fantastic! Humans are hard to draw…but Jacob does it brilliantly! And then to put the drawings on top of photographs?! Brilliant! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see Jacob’s process, how it worked, understand how much time this took, and what it took to get this amazing piece of art published. I am in awe.

Fourth-please get this book! You will not regret it for one second. It’s funny and sad, heart-wrenching and beautiful all at the same time. It’s the exact book that America needs right now and I feel privileged to have read it. I think it’s one you will come back to again and again. (Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk 😉 )

As always, come find me on Instagram!

bookishfolk…read instead.

Three Women

Author: Lisa Taddeo

Published: July 9, 2019

Publisher:    Avis Press (Simon and Schuster)

Where I picked up my book:  Book of the Month choice!

Key Words: nonfiction, sex lives of women, journalistic approach

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My Thoughts:

I was completely, 100% sucked into this book from the very first sentence. To be honest, from the description alone, I was sold! So when Book of the Month chose it as one of their picks, I didn’t hesitate to grab a copy! I went into the book thinking that I was going to get an insiders view into 3 women’s sexual lives and the idea of desire…and I was pumped. I’ve long since realized that there is a barrier when it comes to women and talking about our sex lives. Yes, when we get together with our friends, we might talk about sex a bit, or acknowledge that we are in fact having, or not having, sex, but I wanted some more detail, more insight, just more of ANYTHING from a female perspective. So when I started reading this book and then realized that I wasn’t necessarily getting an insiders view on sex lives, or a feminist, empowered perspective, or any sexual awakening vibes, at first…I was caught off guard. But after I realized exactly what I was reading-I was in. Allow me be a fly on the wall in any situation, and I’m in, 100%, and that’s what this book feels like. You’re a fly on the wall, listening and observing, while these women talk about their lives, intimate details of their day to day and the sex they are, or are not, having. We see what goes on behind closed doors, how men play a huge role in some women’s lives* (*straight women), and how the past affects our present and future. We see their insecurities, what goes on in their heads, how they walk through life and the choices they make and why.  We see things that pain them and things that shouldn’t ever take place, take place. We read about their intimate feelings and the raw hurt that is present in a lot of women’s lives.  After I adjusted my sail, I was not able to put it down. Trust me when I say, it’s not an easy book to read and I often left the pages with a pit in my stomach, but it was truly the most unique book I may have ever read.  Here are a few of my thoughts (I could probably go to 100 and not be finished, but this is the condensed list):

1. Yes, there is definitely sex in this book…but I didn’t see it as the sex positive, feminist, empowering book I thought I was going to read. It doesn’t change that I was completely engrossed, but if you were like me…you’ve been warned. Go into it with correct expectations and I think you’ll enjoy it a lot more.

2. We, as women, carry baggage with us from our past trauma and it shows up, plain and simple, in our present lives. We need to work through our past before we can be good to ourselves in the present and the future.

3. Sometimes, other people (in this case, men) will try to control you, your sexual being and your sex life-don’t let them!

4. This is only a teeeeeny snippet of the population of women. These are 3 straight, white, cis, relatively affluent women that we see represented. It’s called ‘Three Women’ and that’s a really good thing to keep in mind. I would have liked to see more diversity and if I ever get a chance to talk to Taddeo, I’d love to know how these three women came to the front of her research (because I read somewhere her research actually involved a ton of women and eight years). We always need more diversity in literature (and everywhere else), and I would have liked to see that in this one.

5. I am still thinking about all three of these women, but specifically Maggie, on a daily basis. Ugh…her story absolutely broke my heart and I saw myself in her-it scared me a bit and brought up some tough things for me too.

6. You are going to feel every emotion you know how to feel when reading this one…and maybe some others you didn’t even know you knew how to feel. I had to learn to slow down and reflect on all of those emotions as they came up. It was cathartic.

7. This book is raw. It’s not one that will wrap up with a pretty bow. It’s non-fiction…these are real lives we’re dealing with here. Keep that in mind and keep your judgements in check.

8. I’ve truly never read anything like this before.

9. Victim-blaming is never okay. Please don’t blame victims.

10. Ultimately, I don’t think this book dealt with ‘desire.’ I think it was a portrayal of what women feel, think and how they respond when our past affects our present. And when men are jerks. Was that too much? 😉

11. Three Women will make you think and is bound to be a book you talk about with your friends. Ultimately, I think this book might help women feel more open to talk about our sex lives with each other and with professionals, to stand up for ourselves and against jerks in our lives, and to see how our past, and especially past trauma, affects our present. I think that’s a good thing.

12. This book won’t be for everyone, but if you’re a fly on the wall type of person like I am, I think you will dive into this one and pop out when you finish the last sentence.

Have you read Three Women yet? What did you think? Let me know here or over at @bookishfolk. As always, happy reading!

Bookishfolk…read instead.

 

 

 

Wilder Girls

Author: Rory Power

Published: July 9, 2019

Publisher: Delacorte Press  

Where I picked up my book:  Publisher (#partner) THANK YOU!

Key Words: feminist, mysterious illness, YA lit, survival

My Rating: 4

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My Thoughts: 

I really enjoyed this book! It checked so many boxes for me-a gripping story line, strong female friendships, feminism, queer feels, a beautiful cover (come on…we all judge a book by it’s cover sometimes and this one completely wrangled me in), an island under quarantine, and add in a plague-I’m sold!

First off, I don’t want to give too much away in this review. I went into the book kind of blind, and I think that made it that much more fantastic! So I’d avoid reading too many reviews and just go for it and get emerged in the story-I think you’ll enjoy it so much more that way! But just know-there are girls who get a plague called The Tox and the story continues on from there.

Secondly, this book revolves around female friendships and I’m ALWAYS here for that! These girls go to an all-girl school called the Raxter School for Girls and it brought up some fond memories for me. I also went to an all-girl high school and I could imagine the relationships and friendships (and possibly more than friendships, wink, wink) happening as if it was yesterday (side note: it was a longgggg time ago for me). We were a close-knit group of young women who walked through life, and the halls of our school,  in a do or die sort of way. Maybe all high school girls feel this way, but for us, it was legit. I would have done just about anything for the ladies I went to school with, so I could 100% relate and I loved every second of it!

Third, this story is so atmospheric that I could literally feel myself in the plot. I was walking in those woods, tasting the food, feeling the feels, angry at certain points, feeling lonely at other times and getting my game face on to prep for the future right along side these characters. I was completely immersed and that’s saying something for a 40 year old reading YA lit.

The only problem (and by problem, I mean slight annoyance) I had with this book was the ending. Apparently, I like a final conclusion and you won’t find that here. BUT it also allows the reader to surmise and let their imagination run a bit wild and alas…isn’t that the point of good fiction?!

All in all, I really enjoyed this unique book and I’m excited to see what else Power has in store for us. Wilder Girls is full of female friendships and female empowerment. It’s a dark book, but uplifting at the same time full of atmospheric writing that is sure to put you right in the characters shoes. I will definitely be reading more of what Power releases out into the world.

Summary (via Goodreads):

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

bookishfolk…read instead.

Book Haul

Our local library sale was this weekend and they are my absolute favorite. One, I volunteer with the Friends of the Library (who puts on the sale), so I get to see all the people that reap the benefits of our sorting, pricing, tagging and hauling. Two, we get to take home some fantastic books for a really low price. And three, public awareness is raised about how important public libraries are to our community. It’s a win, win, win, for everyone! So I thought I’d share my current book haul with all of you. See any good ones in this pile? I’m pumped to read them all, but particularly excited to read The Dog Stars, Witches of East End and Wildwood. I bought a few books that I’ve already read, and loved so it was great to find them and bring them home to be a part of my home library too! Does your local library have a book sale in your community? Have you found some treasures there? YAY for libraries and books!

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bookishfolk…read instead.

 

Rust & Stardust

Author: T. Greenwood

Published: August 7, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Where I picked up my book: Free gift from publisher (all thoughts are completely my own)

Key Words: true crime, dark and twisted, disturbing, trigger warning for abuse

My Rating: 4 star

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth’s, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says.

This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.

My Thoughts:

First off, eek, this was a hard book to read. And for anyone that is triggered by sexual abuse, you might want to steer clear from this one. With that said, although it’s ripping and mentally exhausting subject matter, I was completely sucked into this book from the beginning and stayed up late into the nights to finish it up. There was something about this little girl, Sally, that I continued to root for until the very end.

Second, have you ever read, or seen, Lolita? What you might not know (I didn’t) is that it’s based on a true crime abduction of a young girl by a child molester. So the author of this book, T. Greenwood (a woman in case you were wondering-I was), gives a fictional voice to this real-life young girl, Florance Sally Horner, and her family in Rust & Stardust.  And just an FYI-don’t google this case unless you want to spoil the book for yourself. I had no idea that it was based off of a true story, but if I had, and had I googled anything, I would have spoiled the book for myself for sure. Just read it as is…and then google the crap out of it like I did. Or don’t-it was quite a terrifying, sad, rabbit hole that I fell down :/ Moving on…

Third, can we talk about abductions for a minute? I remember being slightly nervous about being abducted as a child. Did my parents remember this specific case? Maybe they did. I can’t see they could ever forget it if they had read about it, but it was quite before my time. Were children being endlessly abducted in the 80’s? Maybe, but doubtful. Where did this innate fear come from? The whole idea of a creepy work truck driving by and picking me up could still keep me up at night if I let it. After reading this story and then going down the rabbit hole of the true life abduction of this little girl, I can’t think of anything more terrifying for both children and parents to go through than this. So, although I don’t think my fear was necessarily justified, it makes more sense why it was there and why my parents routinely taught us not to talk to strangers in cars, scream if someone tried to grab us, and always made sure we had a quarter in our pocket to call home. Brrr…it’s terrifying. So as I was reading this book, I was completely engrossed with the story, but also just kept thinking-did her mom ever warn her about child molesters? Did they have that talk about not talking to strangers like my parents did? Why wasn’t the neighborhood and school obsessed with finding her? Was there a fear of abductions in the 50’s?

Also…now as an adult, I just felt such pain for Sally’s mother and the role that she played in her daughter’s disappearance. It was heartbreaking to think of myself in her shoes and the responsibility she must have felt for her daughter being kidnapped. I had moments when I was so mad at her I could have flung the book across the room. How could you let her leave town with a stranger? How could you not be shaking heaven and hell to get her back? How are you not banging down every police station you can get to and making them do their job to find her? How are you just going about your business for the past few MONTHS and simply thinking your daughter is enjoying the beach? It’s been two months for god sake without you really even second guessing her whereabouts. But then I remembered her circumstance and that gave me some empathy for her. She’s not had an easy go at life, especially recently, and maybe it was easier to just keep thinking that all was fine with Sally. I’m not sure I would react like she did as a mother, but times were different in the 50’s and I’m also not here to judge.

Speaking of the 50’s, I also had a major realization when reading this book just thinking about how much life has changed from then to today. Today, we have cell phones, with tracking devices on them, to know the whereabouts of our loved ones at all times. We have social media to that tell the world exactly where we are in real-time. We have text messaging and Skype calls to keep in touch. We have the Internet. There is no such thing as finding change to make a call from a telephone booth, we just grab our phone out of our pocket and hit one button that immediately calls 911. Times have changed. And although bad things still happen (I should say bad things definitely still happen), they are just different kinds of crimes they are occur more frequently now. It was such a reality check for me, a person that grew up without all of these technological advances, but now depends so much on them. I sometimes balk at our technological advances and just wish for the days cell phones and the Internet, but crimes like this play out very differently in these modern times.

Another thing that struck me was how this little girl must have been told to respect her elders, respect the police and FBI, and not question authority. I won’t say that I wasn’t taught the same thing in the 80’s, and this was certainly common for children in the 1950’s. But when she just trusted this man and didn’t ask questions for literally YEARS, or at least didn’t verbally ask questions for years, I just kept thinking what a disservice we do to children when we teach them this. I think I was taught this as a child too. Don’t question teachers, coaches, adults in positions of power…but as I grew up, I spent a lot of time doing the exact opposite. It might not have been the best way to spend my teenage years (let’s just say there were a lot of detention slips on my desk) but now as an adult, I am so, so happy that I learned to have a voice and question authority. After reading this book-it was even more apparent that we need to find that balance with children to respect adults, but don’t take any shit from them either. I don’t have the answers as to how to do this-but I’d like to explore it more.

Overall, I loved this book, but it was a very hard read. It struck a few nerves for me and triggered some deep seeded hurt and anger in me too. Lolita turned this relationship into a weird love story that I was never comfortable with and I’m thankful for T. Greenwood for showing the relationship for what it was-a terrifying experience for a little girl who lost so much to a sick man. My heart is forever aching for Sally, but I’m glad to have “met” you.

bookishfolk…read instead.