logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: diverse-characters
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-07-08 15:24
A challenging and beautifully diverse reading experience
Matt: More Than Words - Hans M. Hirschi

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel. I have read quite a few of Hirschi’s novels and have enjoyed them all, and some are among my favourites in recent years. He combines some of the characteristics that I most admire in authors: he writes strong and diverse characters, no matter what particular challenges they might be faced with; he carefully researches the topics he touches on (even when some of them might seem only incidental to the novel, he makes sure nothing is left to chance) and uses his research wisely (never banging readers on the head with it); and he does not shy away from the ugliest and harshest realities of life, while at the same time always dealing sensitively and constructively with those. His stories are not fairy tales, and they force us to look at aspects of society and of ourselves that perhaps we’re not proud of, but if we rise to the challenge we’ll be rewarded with an enlightening experience. And a great read. This novel is no exception. We follow the life of Matt, a young man diagnosed with cerebral palsy due to birth complications, for a few rather momentous months. The book, narrated in the third person, is told from three of the main characters’ perspectives. The novel is mostly Matt’s, or at least as good an approximation at what Matt’s experience might be as the author can achieve. It is a difficult task, and he expresses it better than I can in his acknowledgements at the end (‘How does one write about someone in whose situation you’ve never been? How do you give voice to someone who has none? And maybe, most importantly, how, without being insensitive, without objectifying, generalizing, stereotyping, in short without being a “dick”, do you tell a story that needs telling, about someone who could actually be out there, right now?’). He also explains that he shared his early drafts with experts (people with cerebral palsy and their carers), and, in my non-expert opinion, he manages to depict what the daily life of the protagonist would be like. The other two main characters, Timmy, a professional carer who is Matt’s personal assistant at the beginning of the story but gets removed from his team due to a misunderstanding, and Martha, Matt’s mother, are also given a saying and some of the chapters are told from their perspective. Timmy is a lovely young man, a carer in the true sense of the word, and he has a real calling for the type of job he is doing. Martha is a devoted mother who found herself in a tough situation when she was very young and who has poured her heart and soul into looking after her son. Neither one of them are perfect (nor is Matt for that matter), and they make mistakes, lose heart and faith at times, and can feel overwhelmed or despondent, but they never give up and always have Matt’s best interests in mind. Of course, I’ve already said that this is not a fairy tale. Far from it. We all know and have heard about some of the terrible things that happen: abuse, neglect, lack of resources, and although in this case there is no political and/or social oversight (Matt has access to a package of care and the family is reasonably well-supported, something that unfortunately is not the case everywhere), somehow things still go wrong, and we get to see what it must be like to be the victim of such abuse when you are totally unable not only of physically defending yourself but also of even talking about it. Terrifying. Not everybody is suited for this kind of work, and it is sad to think that those in the most vulnerable circumstances can be exposed to such abuse. And yes, because of the level of need and the limited resources, sometimes the vetting procedures are not as stringent as they should be. (The current health crisis has highlighted how much we expect of some workers and how little a compensation they receive for their efforts). Communication and how important it is to try to make sure everybody can communicate and become as independent as possible is one of the main themes of the book. The experience of living locked up inside your own body, with other people not even aware that you know what is going on around you and always making decisions for you comes through very strongly in the book. Matt knows and worries about how he is perceived by others, has internalised many of the attitudes he’s seen, and the comments he has overheard, and many aspects of life we take for granted are like an impossible dream to him. Speaking, going for a walk, even deciding what to watch on television, are tasks beyond his scope. The research into ways to facilitate communication and to increase independence is highlighted in the novel, and the role new technologies (including AI) can play is explored. With the appropriate investment, there’s little doubt that this could make a big difference in the lives of many people. Martha’s difficult situation (she wishes her son to fulfil his potential and be able to do what any other 23 years old normally does, but she’s also fiercely protective of him and does not want to get her hopes up for them to only be crushed again), the personal price she has to pay, the way she has to sacrifice any semblance of a normal life to keep looking after Matt, her worry about the future… are also convincingly depicted. And Timmy’s own feelings and his acknowledgment of his own limitations ring true as well. Family relationships feature strongly not only in the case of Matt, but also of Timmy, originally from Africa and adopted by Caucasian parents, a loving couple who accept him as he is, and Chen, Timmy’s friend and ex-boyfriend, whose parents are more understanding than he thought they’d be. The writing style is compelling and descriptive, although the descriptions are focused on the emotions and feelings rather than on the outward appearance of people and things. I found the story moving, and although it is not a page-turner in the common sense of the word, I was totally engulfed in it and couldn’t put it down, even when some of the events were horrifying at times and made me want to look away. The novel ends in a positive note, and I hope that in real life everybody in Matt’s situation will have access to a fulfilling life, if not now, in the very near future. As a society, we can do much to help, and we should. This novel reminded me of Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (yes, the famous screenwriter who ended up in the blacklist, one of Hollywood’s Ten), whose movie version I saw as a teenager (also directed by Trumbo), and I’ve never forgotten. The main character there is a WWI soldier who is so severely injured during the war that he ends up unable to move and to communicate, or so those around him think. Although the circumstances are very different (the main character there had led a normal life before and has many memories, although if that makes his life better is a matter of opinion), and I’m sure this novel will appeal to people looking for a book focusing on diverse characters and exploring the world beyond our everyday experiences. As I’ve explained, it is not a comfortable and easy read, but one that will challenge us and make us look at life with new eyes. If you are up for the challenge, the rewards are immense.

Like Reblog Comment
photo 2017-12-20 17:04
Award-winning children's author Karl Beckstrand
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2015-10-13 23:58
Kelley Armstrong NAILS IT
The Masked Truth - Kelley Armstrong

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

I am a major Kelley Armstrong fangirl so I knew I would love this book but I still ended up being surprised by it. The Masked Truth is so different from Kelley Armstrong's YA novels in that it’s more mature and also happens to be a thriller (her YA books so far have been Urban Fantasy/Fantasy.)

One thing Kelley Armstrong has been good about is incorporating diversity in her novels and she does it again with a Hispanic female lead and also by discussing mental illnesses in a way that is heartbreaking but REALLY realistic and enlightening. I also appreciated that therapy was portrayed positively in the book (even with some of the things that happened.) The main character isn’t always on board with some of the things her therapist asks but getting help is NEVER mocked and I loved that.

Riley is suffering from PTSD after witnessing a couple she babysat for get murdered. She saved their daughter, but in her mind, because she hid under a bed, she is a coward and the fact that everyone considers her a hero makes it worse. When she and a bunch of other kids are held hostage, Riley really steps up her game to keep everyone together but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have flashbacks or panics. I think her entire character is so fantastically developed. It’s realistic and makes it so easy to believe in Riley.

My favorite character is obviously Max who is unlike any love interest I’ve met so far. He is schizophrenic. And it’s really his struggle that makes this book stand out to me. When we first meet him, he seems like a classic case of bad boy and I was like *shrug* but the more I read and the more Kelley developed him, the more I fell in love.

Through Max, Kelley really looks at the stigmas surrounding mental illnesses and specifically schizophrenia. Before reading this book, I didn’t know much about the illness but The Masked Truth really put into perspective the kind of prejudice people have and how hard it can be to deal with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia. In my limited knowledge of the illness, I’d say that Kelley did a fantastic job with dealing with the illness and never undermined its seriousness in any way.

As one can imagine, the romance between Riley and Max would be all kinds of interesting and it was. Given the situation they are in, being held hostage and all, the time frame within which their romance develops might make some readers see it as instalove but I was okay with it because Kelley really makes me root for these two. Their romance is built on understanding and team work rather than attraction (although there is that too) and I really liked that.

The thriller aspects, unsurprisingly, were amazing too. This book does get twisty but in a way that works and I enjoyed it. Of course, that could just be my bias since I adore Kelley Armstrong but I also think she just did a great job with the twists. She never throws unnecessary red herrings and nothing is predictable. Her twists also aren’t bizarre or unbelievable. They just make sense within the context of the story. It’s like watching pieces of a puzzle click rather than experiencing sheer surprise or shock.

The book does start off slow, and it wasn’t until the second half that I was really sucked in but Kelley has a way of writing stories that work for me and many other readers. I loved this book and hope that Kelley will write many more like it.

Note that I received an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

Like Reblog Comment
video 2015-06-26 16:03

Publisher Karl Beckstrand on new thriller: To Swallow the Earth, an Adventure 108 years in the making!

A man and a woman, each searching for missing family members, clash amid a Nevada silver rush scheme that leaves both unsure who to trust--and scrambling to stay alive.

"A wonderful story of adventure, grit and survival. Karl’s done an amazing job of beautifully illustrating this story through his words. I highly recommend it!" - Lindsay Condie

Source: www.amazon.com/Swallow-Earth-Ransom-Wilcox/dp/0692407979/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1435330866&sr=8-1&keywords=karl+beckstrand
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2014-11-07 12:58
Unusual ya paranormal novel with diverse cast and lyrical writing
The Last Changeling - Chelsea Pitcher

I started reading The Last Changeling expecting nothing more than a little entertainment, a light paranormal story and hopefully sweet romance. I got much much more. Contrary to what pretty cover and summary lead me to believe, The Last Changeling is not just another young adult novel.

 

In a lyrical, unusual style, that’s fit better for literal fiction than paranormal genre, Chelsea Pitcher weaves her magical web around us. Whether it’s the descriptions of nature or feelings, style of writing is not something you read every day.

But late one night, death offered me an opportunity. She whispered dirty secrets in my ear and pulled back my eyelids with curling hands.

Narrators are Elora/Lora, fae princess, and Tyler, human boy. Every chapter switches perspective. You could not miss who is talking in each chapter, even if it was not written at the beginning. Taylor’s language is modern and short. Elora’s speech has archaic traces, reminded me of Shakespeare’s dialogues (if someone rewrote them for modern-themed Broadway show).

 

The story is typical. Fae princess comes in disguise to human high school and falls in love with a human boy. But the writing and the characters make The Last Changeling unique. I already mentioned the writing style. As for the characters, when people complain and tweet #WeNeedDiverseBooks – they are saying that more books should be like The Last Changeling. Homosexuality, bisexuality, peer pressure, drugs, bullying, dealing with loss of a family member, complex characters, … It’s all covered.

 

Sadly, all Chelsea Pitcher‘s talent was pretty much wasted on me. Someone would have enjoyed this book like a rare cup of exotic tea. I sipped it, made face, concluded how I can see it’s good, but it’s not for me. I might even continue readingFaerie Revolutions series, since I am intrigued to find out what will happen next. But it feels kinda like a sacrilege reading and not enjoying it.

 

In The End…

The Last Changeling is not a book for everyone. But if you like writing styles with literal flare and are looking for a young adult paranormal novel with diverse cast of characters, then The Last Changeling might be the book you will enjoy.

 

Disclaimer: I received this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Source: www.bookwormdreams.com/book-review-favorite-quotes-the-last-changeling-by-chelsea-pitcher
More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?