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review 2017-07-14 16:07
Activism in India
Book Uncle and Me - Julianna Swaney,Uma Krishnaswami

Like those of you who come to my blog looking for book recommendations, I often check out book vloggers/bloggers and 'what's new in children's lit' to see what I should be checking out next. That's how I heard about Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami. Firstly, I don't think I've ready any children's books from an Indian author before so I was interested to see if the styles would be at all similar and what kind of themes would be explored. Secondly, this book is about two of my favorite things: books and community activism. :-D Our main character, Yasmin, is a voracious reader and she gets all of her books from a lending library run by Book Uncle who sets up his 'shop' on the corner by her apartment building. There is no price for these books and if you want to keep it then that's perfectly okay. Yasmin and many members of her community come to see this little library as a constant in their lives but one day their world is upended because Book Uncle has been told that he must leave. What transpires next is nothing short of inspiring and that's just what I think is so phenomenal about this book. It teaches children that their actions matter and that activism can be accomplished by every member of the community. It's a great way to talk about 'doing your part' that doesn't make it overbearing or heavy-handed. It's also a great way to expose children to a different part of the world. 8/10

 

Note: This book will also make you extraordinarily hungry.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-05-13 18:21
Made me think, don't agree with all of it.
Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair - Sarah Schulman

"Snowflakes." Liberal college campuses are denying speakers freedom of speech. Oh, don't like what I said? Do you need a safe space? Are you triggered? Are you upset over the election?

 

While this book is not specifically about any of the above, I definitely thought of some of the ongoing discussions/arguments (depending on how you put it) and the conflicts that arise. Author Schulman takes the reader on why and how things like texting and emails are harmful for communication, the difference between conflict and abuse (and how to resolve them), how this dynamic can manifest on both the personal level and within the public sphere, and so forth. 

 

I was not familiar with her background prior to reading this book but despite some of the mixed reviews I thought this would be an interesting book that would be good reading. And it was, but I'm not sure how helpful this can be since I couldn't help but feel the author is writing very much from her own personal experiences (which in itself is not terrible but not always applicable to other people) and may not fully realize some of the complex issues that go on in many of the situations she writes about.

 

For example, I honestly wondered if she's had bad experiences with the silent treatment or ghosting. She blames the person who refuses to talk for "withholding" and that it's detrimental to everyone involved. Or she talks about an example of receiving an email cancellation for a lunch date and says "Email creates repression and anxiety" (pg 45). She honestly reminded me of anecdotes that I've heard where the romantic relationship ended yet one partner insists on "hashing it out" or "working through our issues" or whatever but it becomes a long, dragged out process where's clear that partner just doesn't want to let go and often doesn't accept it until the other party deliberately puts up barriers (cutting off all contact, blocking on social media, sending a third party to communicate to leave them alone, etc.).

 

Or, in another example in the introduction, she talks about how her high school guidance counselor warned her not to tell her parents about her sexual orientation due to their homophobia. She writes that by doing so "he upheld the distorted thinking, unjustified punishment, and exclusion." Schulman continues to write that if she is in a similar situation now with her students, she offers to speak to the parents, to provide alternatives, "to intervene and stand up to brutality in order to protect its recipient and transform their context" (pg 27). 

 

I honestly found that quite misguided. She made it about her and what she would do but what about the students? What is their background, could they be in danger if they were outed to their parents/peers/community, do they have resources, do they WANT to come out? I do not share her experiences but this made me incredibly uncomfortable. Certainly there are many situations where having someone like a professor speak on your behalf can be quite helpful but I was puzzled by the lack discussion on the possible dangers too. 

 

That said, I think there is merit to the book. I can agree that sometimes there is a reaction for too quick of a judgment in situations that really could be resolved by an honest conversation where both parties do want to resolve the situation before it escalates. Email and texting are handy as forms of communication but sometimes there is an essence lost when communicating that way. 

 

But in the end, I feel the author thinks there should be a greater level of engagement and assumes too much: that both parties want to resolve the situation amiably, that there is an equal dynamic (the want for communication *can* become abusive by demanding someone's time, emotional labor, maybe even money if it requires travel or phone minutes, etc.). On a personal level I can respect that and have encountered people who feel the same way that Schulman does: more communication, that people should be willing to educate, etc. But I do thinks she projects a little too much of her own personal preferences and feels entitled to something that not everyone wants to give.

 

People also liked her chapter on HIV and the chapter on Israel and Palestine but honestly I can't help but be a bit jaded as to how much of her own personal biases may have played a part after the initial chapters. They were also not topics that interested me (and quite frankly felt out of place--sometimes the author really didn't do a great job in switching/transitional between the personal and the not so much). At times it also felt like the author put down a lot of words but didn't actually SAY anything substantive.

 

Again, it made me think and I would be interested in reading more but at the same time it felt like the author is in a bit of a bubble. I'd borrow it from the library or get it as a bargain book.

 

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text 2017-03-28 03:06
Community Service 2017 – Operation Tuli

 

Small Boys become Big Men

 

“Operation Tuli”

In cooperation with

Alpha Phi Omega – Lambda Eta Chapter, Isabelita Rosueta Organization and Olongapo City Health Department

 

In Memory of Bro. Joel Castillo

 

April 21, 2017 | 8AM, Sta. Rita Health Center, Olongapo City

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review 2017-03-13 23:12
ARC Review: Insight (The Community #1) by Santino Hassell
Insight - Santino Hassell

Well, folks - I'm no longer a Santino Hassell virgin. This is the book for which I traded in my v-card, and now I sit here, wondering what on earth is wrong with me for holding out for so long.

Insight is the first book in a new series called The Community. I'm not going to explain to you what The Community in question is or what its purpose is - I'm just going to let you read this book (I encourage you to read this book. I demand you read this book, OMG) and let Nate take you inside what can only be described as an intriguing, intense, slightly creepy and twisted mindfuck.

I'm sure we've all at one point or another idly wished for a super-human power, like being able to read people's minds or feel their emotions or manipulate them into doing our bidding without them realizing their being manipulated or predict what the future holds or... well, you get my drift. Now imagine, really imagine, being able to do just one of those things.

Nate Black, for example, is an empath. He can feel people's emotions, as well as emotions attached to an every day object, such as a necklace. Imagine for a minute what that might do to a person, to always feel every emotion someone else has, just because you're touching them. Imagine greeting someone with a handshake, or someone just bumping into you while you're walking down the street or in a crowded train, and you feel. every. thing. Just as if they were your own feelings. Imagine wondering if what the other person feels are their true feelings or the ones you pushed on them with your empath ability.

Ask Nate how that feels, when you're an empath but cannot control this supposed "gift", and you feel it all, all the time. Ask Nate how it feels when your mama just up one day and leaves you, and you're stuck with your aunt, who doesn't even like you much. Ask Nate what it's like to be bullied in high school because he's gay, and the one boy he liked turned on him, because possibly, your uncontrolled powers pushed your own feelings unto this boy, and you just can't be sure whether the feelings were yours or his. And also, your brother was an asshole. You too might be cynical and lonely and depressed, avoiding people whenever you can.

When Nate's twin brother Theo turns up dead in New York from an apparent suicide, and the story doesn't gel with a vision Nate has in a dream, Nate decides that maybe it's time to hitch a ride to NYC himself and ask some questions about what really happened to his more powerful brother.

Fortuitously, Nate manages to hitch a ride with Trent, a normal human, who's also one of the few from whom Nate gets positive feelings. Warmth. Kindness. Someone who makes him feel that he's not just a fuck-up, someone who floods him with good emotions upon first touch.

The author takes his readers on a wild ride from Texas to New Orleans to NYC, and that's not even half the book. Once Trent and Nate arrive in NYC, the creepiness factor only increases. I'll refer you to the intense and twisted mindfuck comment above.

There's a romance here, yes, but it does not take center stage, and instead provides the basis for the plot. It's like the wrapper around the whole thing, really, like a rubber band that holds Nate together so he can focus on finding out the truth. Like a beacon in the darkness, Trent is all that is good and true, and possibly the only person Nate trusts.

Be prepared for unexpected twists and turns, and more than one "holy shit, what just happened?". I won't tell you anymore than that.

It's a wild ride, but I couldn't put this book down for any length of time until I had finished. If this is the kind of book this author produces, I may need my sanity checked for holding out this long.

Run, don't walk, to get yourself a copy. It's available now.

Highly recommended.

Also, where's the next installment, Mr. Hassell? I needs it. I needs it bad!!


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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