Book reviews, from one year ago!

I actually borrowed these books last year, and I am only writing about them now! I literally read Watch Over Me the week of the election. I can’t believe it has been one year. The chillier weather this time of the year always reminds me of Fall 2016 and last year.

From last year: “It has been a very wild time the past few months and I’ve found it hard to read, but there are a few books I managed to squeeze in when my mind wasn’t occupied with resisting fascism!”

Watch Over Me by Nina Lacour

Nina Lacour writes beautifully. Someone on Goodreads described it as drinking a glass of water, and this one definitely feels like that. It is triggering because of the abuse and gaslighting that happened to Mila and her mom. It’s also very atmospheric–it was set in a farm in rural northern California. It’s a ghost story and the book gave me a kind of bruised feeling. There is so little that you can tell about a person. There is no way you can tell what trauma and longing they are going through. The way Mila finds healing through Lee is something I can relate to.

Are You Listening? by Tillie Walden

It’s hazy in my mind, and the book felt like a dream. I love the loose lines in Tillie Walden’s graphic novels. This one is about two women and a cat who take a road trip across west Texas. I vaguely remember an incident of sexual harassment or assault being the reason one of the women is on the run. I actually don’t remember where they are going or if they ever arrived. I’m in this state of mind a lot the past three years, feeling like I am running away or trying to leave my trauma behind, and not knowing exactly where I was going. This captures some of those feelings.

Two Trees Make a Forest by Jessica J. Lee

I did not finish this, but I will! It’s about Taiwan.

Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram

In this sequel, Darius has a lot on his plate: he has an internship at his favorite tea shop, he has a boyfriend, and he is on a soccer team. He’s passionate about tea, his first relationship and obviously, soccer, but they become a lot to balance, and he doesn’t feel so good about them after all. I totally relate to this because I was literally that in Darius’s shoes the 2017-2018 school year. It was kind of miserable and really hard. Darius and I both deserve better.

The Other Side of the Sky by Amie Kaufmann and Meagan Spooner

This was for Phelicity’s book club, but I did not finish it. I will come back to this because it’s been described as having Ghibli vibes, and I am very much for it.

I love going in the queue and remembering books from 2020!

Shadowscapes Day 19: The Lovers

Today’s card is The Lovers.

The card is full of contrasts: the simple calla lily and the sensuous rose, the innocent doves and the tempting snake.

I’ve been thinking about love in the romantic sense and many other senses: friendship, community, self and the world. I’m drawn to the idea of becoming a secular nun because it involves a very intense kind of love for the world, as evil and flawed as it is, and a deep dedication to the work of loving.

In the past, I had a romantic relationship like that, and after it ended, I found that it’s unlikely that I will find a partner who is looking for the kind of intense, dedicated and loving relationship that I want.

It’s also hard for me to be interested in men, even though I’m straight. There are so many ways for women to be hurt, permanently, and I really want to be safe, comfortable and myself. I have a hard time with performing/acting out the role of girlfriend (and wife, if I ever get married), and that is probably part of what holds me back. I have so little experience with what a role entails, and it’s a really hard script to perform based on society’s expectations of women.

(I feel for both men and women in regard to the gender roles they play. I’m sure men have to perform the role of boyfriend and husband, and that looks different in front of other men than with their partners. Toxic masculinity hurts both men and women.)

In my fellowship, we have been talking about being selfish and telling stories. I’m going to take the best care of myself for me and for Pecola. Since reading The Bluest Eye, living in a way that honors and protects Pecola–how I would do so if I had the chance–has guided my choices. I just want to protect and love Pecola and myself the way we deserve.

Shadowscapes Day 18: Three of Cups + Writing!

Today’s card is Three of Cups.

I love the Cups cards because they have to do with relationships, emotions and creativity.

This one is relevant to me: “Friendship is its key component, and companionship, relying on others, and developing community and team spirit.”

I feel really good today because I got to tutor two students! I love working on math and writing with them. It feels like a gift because I wasn’t looking to tutor more, but I went to Ms. Stacey’s house and met two other moms. I met Ms. Stacey and started tutoring for her in the first place because of The People’s Coalition, which I joined because of Babes Against the Virus.

The reason I got to tutor three students this week is because of community. The people around me believed in me, then more doors opened. I really love that!

I got to workshop two fun paragraphs with two young writers today:

This one is about the myth of Arachne, a weaver who was too proud of her skill, then the goddess Athena punished her by turning her into a spider. (7th grade)

A handwritten paragraph about the myth of Arachne
“The myth teaches you that [if you’re] talented at something, you should be humble.”

Some of the tweaks we made in this paragraph:

  • using “the weaver” instead of repeating Arachne’s name or an ambiguous “she”
  • phrasing the topic sentence from the question
  • citing the text and using transition words

This one is about why surfing is cool–that was the writer’s opinion about a sport. I thought it was cool that he chose surfing as a sport because it is a sport!

Some of the tweaks we made in this paragraph:

  • using the “___ means you get to ___.” construction
  • changing “dodge other people” to “dodge other surfers” to be more detailed
  • closing the paragraph with an opinion AND paraphrase of the topic sentence
A handwritten paragraph about why surfing is cool
“Sometimes, you might even see a shark lurking.”

I really love this because it’s the kind of editing I did with B/R, and it’s just fun to work with young writers. Of course, it needs to be copy-edited, heavily! I’m so happy I get to apply the lessons I learned from my temp assignment with B/R here.