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Book Review: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

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Brown Girl Dreaming

Source: Goodreads

Plot Summary (Taken from Goodreads): Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement.

My Review: One of the best aspects of the book is the poems. Most of them are written in free verse, while others are haikus. Many of the free verse poems have great sensory detail that allows the reader to feel like they are right there with the author. Meanwhile, the haikus serve to sum up lessons she learned by paying attention to what was going on around her. They are simple yet poignant poems that make the reader pause and reflect.

Besides the poems in general, the poems that tell the about the author’s love for stories and her beginnings as a writer are very touching. Through the eyes of the author as a child, these poems go from innocent to passionate as the book progresses. After reading about the author’s influences and seeing her writing voice emerge, current and new readers of Woodson will appreciate her more.

Another aspect of the book that is great is its themes. The most prominent ones are freedom, dreams, and a sense of belonging.  Despite being set in the 1960’s and 70’s, these are themes and more are presented so honestly that almost anyone today can relate.

Overall, this book was fantastic. I recommend it to poetry fans and minorities of all ages.

 

Book Review: Feminism Is For Everybody (2000) by bell hooks

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bell hooks, feminism is for everybodyBook Summary: Feminist, writer,and social activist bell hooks gives a tangible definition of feminism and explains how feminism intersects with different aspects of life.

My Review: One of the positive aspects of this work is that it is a good introduction to feminism. If you are completely clueless or confused about what feminism is really about, this book is perfect for you. In fact, bell hooks states in the introduction to the book that she wanted to write something that will enable people to understand feminism better and why she is a feminist.

Besides being a good introduction to feminism, the book examines how feminism connects to different areas of life for men and women. She discusses romantic and sexual relationships, beauty, sexuality, work, and more. It made her thoughts on feminism much more relatable.

Another positive aspect of the book is how bell hooks put some of her personal experience into the book to support her ideas. In certain chapters, she shares how she became a feminist and the women who influenced and supported her. It made the book more engaging.

A negative aspect of the book is that she doesn’t provide enough examples to support certain ideas. For instance, she states in the beginning of the chapter titled “Feminist Parenting” that women can raise children with a sexist upbringing. However, she doesn’t exactly state how women can raise children with a sexist upbringing.

Another negative aspect of the book is the fact that while there is a chapter devoted to how feminism related to lesbianism and bisexuality, there is no mention of transgender people. However,  this may be because hooks lacked experience with transgender people at the time of publication.

Overall, this book was an enlightening read about feminism. While it could definitely be updated and improved, it is a great way for anybody to understand feminism better.

 

 

Written by Serena Zola

May 30, 2014 at 6:21 PM

Neil Gaiman On Reading and My Two Cents

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I was making my usual rounds on the Huffington Post when I saw this link to an article about why author Neil Gaiman thinks reading is important for the future. The article is lengthy, but thought-provoking.

As an avid reader and aspiring author, I agree with every word Gaiman said. The only thing that would impress me more is if Gaiman turned this lecture into a fantasy novel. However, I want to add a few things.

First, fiction is not the only genre that can impact a reader.

As they get older, kids get exposed to other things and have to read non-fiction. If they have to do a paper on their favorite author, then they will have to read biographies or autobiographies.

If a reader enjoys an author’s work enough to read the author’s  biography or autobiography, then the reader might appreciate the author’s work even more. The same thing can apply if you read a biography or autobiography about any creative or innovative person.

By reading more about certain people, you can learn to appreciate certain aspects of life more or want to do something to improve it.

Secondly, reading fiction has a special message for some readers. That message is, “You are not alone.”

One of the worse things that you can feel is that you’re only person experiencing something. Finding a character in a fictional work going through the same thing you are is as comforting as a warm hug.

Last but not least, I think the ultimate reason reading is important is that it inspires other people to express themselves through any medium.

The short stories I have been writing as practice have been influenced by teen fiction, news stories, and a little personal experience. Some of my poetry has a similar influence, but has also been inspired by classic poets.

Without people reading books, the world wouldn’t be where it is today.  I will always be grateful for libraries, books, and the authors who write them.

Written by Serena Zola

October 18, 2013 at 4:57 PM

8 Things to Save a Life Part 2

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In honor of Jonah Mowry as well as all the victims of bullycide, I have created a two-part post featuring songs and books that can be used to comfort any suicidal or bullied person. However, these posts are especially for children and teens.

Since part one featured the songs, this second part will feature the books.

The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth by Alexandra Robbins

Many teens are bullied because they are different from most of their classmates. Some of them resort to suicide because they believe they will suffer the same treatment all throughout their life. With this non-fiction book, the author presents what she calls “the quirk theory”, which states that the things that cause them to be bullied in high school will be the things that people appreciate later in life. To support this theory, the author follows several real characters that are ostracized for being different and issues them a challenge to change their situation without changing who they are. In addition, the author features celebrities that were outcasts in high school before they were famous.

On the Fringe edited by Donald R. Gallo

This book features several stories by many prominent young adult authors. These stories tell what it is like to be an outcast, to be excluded for being different. Some of these stories are hopeful, while others are shocking, but all of them have a lesson to be learned.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Leviathan

This fiction book tells the story of one gay teen and one straight teen who share the same name and what happens when they meet. A humorous yet serious story featuring love and friendship, this is a great book for anyone.

Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler

Another thing that teens may resort to when bullied is self-injury. Jonah Mowry did it and so does the main character in this book. After a humiliating bullying incident, Melissa Miller accidentally creates a fatal wound while cutting herself with a razor. However, when Death comes he offers her the chance to become War, a Rider of the Apocalypse. When Melissa Miller takes the job, she slowly learns something that helps her conquer her pain: control.

Written by Serena Zola

December 16, 2011 at 10:45 AM

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