artsandyouthlove

Books, Music, Movies, Youth Issues, Random Stuff

Posts Tagged ‘Ramon Calhoun

My Favorite Books That I Have Read in 2014

with one comment

Up until now, I have told you my favorite music and movies I’ve encountered this year. Here is my final favorites of 2014 blog post, my favorite books I’ve read in 2014.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell- I loved reading this book because I can totally relate to Cath, the main character. She loves reading and writing fan fiction (albeit slash fan fiction) about a Harry Potter-ish book series called Simon Snow. At the same time, she is a college freshman who has to learn to get out of her comfort zone as a writer and a person.

I loved that the author understood why some people enjoy reading or writing fan fiction and how she captured the glory days of the Harry Potter fandom with a fictional book series. I also loved how she showed that anybody can geek out over something, not just a particular type of person. In addition, Levi was a thoughtful and sweet love interest for Cath and he is my favorite love interest in teen fiction.

Blackanese Boy by Ramon Calhoun- This is the first book I’ve read that was written by a black and Japanese author. It is also the first book I’ve read featuring a black and Japanese protagonist and the first book I’ve read that discusses what it is like to be bi-racial in the 70s and 80s. A remarkable aspect of the book is that the main character Rafael encounters different cultural experiences and is viewed through the eyes of black, Japanese, white, Arabic, and Muslim people.

Despite taking place years before I was born, I could relate to this book because I am black and asian and have experienced events similar to Ramon’s. I loved how honest this book was and how historical events like the atomic bomb scare and the birth of hip-hop were woven into the storyline.

Of Minnie The Moocher and Me by Cab Calloway and Brian Rollins- This autobiography has Cab Calloway telling about his life from his childhood until the early 70’s. It was a great read because you see how he became a bandleader, how he developed certain songs, what it was like touring with his band, and more. It was just as entertaining as any of his music.

I liked how he said that the point of him being a bandleader was that it was his way of saying, “I know it’s rough out there, but let go of your troubles for a little while.” I also liked that he revealed that he was an introvert offstage.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson- I’ve been a fan of Jacqueline Woodson’s teen fiction for a couple of years, but this autobiography has become my favorite book of hers. I loved how she wrote about her childhood in beautiful free verse poems with vivid sensory detail. I also loved that she also wrote haiku poetry in order to tell about the lessons she learned. Finally, I loved how you can see her writing voice developed in certain poems.

Various Black Speculative Fiction Books- I did a separate post on my favorite black speculative fiction books that I read this year. Since people of color rarely get noticed in fantasy fiction, I decided to promote them as much as I can on this blog and the site Black Girl Nerds. Read about my favorite black speculative books on Black Girl Nerds here.

 

Book Review: Blackanese Boy by Ramon Calhoun

with 2 comments

Blackanese Boy, Ramon Calhoun

Source: Amazon

Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): BLACKANESE BOY, set primarily in San Francisco in the 1970s and early 1980s, follows the trials and tribulations, the ups and downs, of Rafael Halifax, as he negotiates the complex dance of being mixed-race in a race conscious society. A coming of age novel, BLACKANESE BOY explores the issues and complexities, the pain and joy, of being both black and Japanese-American, for one American boy. 

My Review: One of the best things about this book is how realistic the experience of being bi-racial is. Since the author is black and Japanese himself, certain experiences like being mistaken for a Mexican because of his skin tone and being stared at by other Japanese people rang sincere.

In addition, there are certain events that are universal for anyone who has a personality that doesn’t fit the stereotype of their skin color. For instance, some Asian people in the book expected Rafael to know everything about hip-hop because he was black.

Besides the experience of being bi-racial, the cultural setting of the book was very interesting. There are certain events like the atomic bomb scare and the birth of hip-hop culture that make the book seem like historical fiction rather than a typical coming-of-age story.

Also, the way the author included Japanese,  black, Hispanic, Arabic, Muslim, and white people was a good way for the reader to experience different cultures and encounters through Rafael’s eyes.

Furthermore, the author did a good job showing that no group is exempt from being prejudiced or racist, even if they are your own ethnic group.

When it comes to the book’s flaws, the only one was the story’s ending. For a coming-of-age story, it was too ambiguous. By the end, it felt like Rafael got older, but not wiser.

Overall, the book was good, but Rafael’s character could have been developed better. However, I still recommend this book because any mixed race black person and any blasian (black and asian) person will relate to it.

 

 

 

 

Written by Serena Zola

June 26, 2014 at 8:52 PM

%d bloggers like this: