logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: realistic-fiction
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-03-24 02:41
Becoming Naomi Leon - review
Becoming Naomi León - Pam Muñoz Ryan

One of her favorite sayings was that the good and the bad of any situation were sometimes the same.

 

My thoughts dived into a jumble in the middle of my mind, wrestled around until they were wadded into a fisted knot, and attached themselves to my brain like a burr matted in a long-haired dog.

 

I always thought the biggest problem in my life was my name, Naomi Soledad Leon Outlaw, but little did I know that it was the least of my troubles, or that someday I would live up to it.

 

 

When Naomi was 4 and her brother was 1, their mother left them with their grandmother. Seven years later, the mother (Skyla) shows up on their doorstep wanting to "get to know her children". But, she has other motives. A chain of events sends Naomi, Owen, and Gram on a trip to Mexico where Naomi discovers more about her Mexican heritage and finds something unexpected.

 

This is a lovely story. The characters are likable. I enjoyed reading about Naomi's journey and how she reasoned things out in her head. Her devotion to her brother is admirable. She doesn't let anyone stop her when she needs something. 

 

The book is culturally authentic and contains many examples of Spanish words and Mexican culture. Readers, especially girls, will enjoy reading about Naomi's determination and her adventures. The ending doesn't take the easy way out and is pretty realistic, as opposed to being too perfect and happy. 

 

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-03-19 04:47
Something in Between - Melissa de la Cruz

 

Danny and Isko are pretty much 100 percent American. It’s as if my parents are first-generation immigrants and they’re second generation. But I’m stuck somewhere between both of them, trying to figure out how to help them understand each other.

 

I’m breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong? I’m not American. I’m not a legal resident. I don’t even have a green card.

I’m nothing. Nobody.

Illegal.

 

Jasmine is a senior in high school. She is cheer captain, honor roll, volunteer and now a National Scholarship Award winner. The award includes four years of college tuition. Jasmine is so excited to tell her parents, but they don’t react as she expects. Turns out her parents’ work visas expired and they weren’t unable to get new ones. Instead of going back to the Philippines, her parents kept the family in the United States. They are all undocumented and Jasmine can’t accept the scholarship.

 

This was a touching story about how a young girl deals with finding out she is undocumented. Who can she tell? She is ashamed of her status, and now she can’t even go to college.

 

This was the third book I read for my multicultural issue paper. I enjoyed the story. Jasmine is a strong female character and she doesn’t give up.

 

Another good book for teens (and anyone) to read to help understand what undocumented children experience.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-03-18 16:35
Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Allegedly - Tiffany D. Jackson

Initial reaction: Long review coming probably sometime tomorrow when I can meditate on my end thoughts on the novel, which are complex and conflicted. This...may not be a book for everyone to read.

This book had me emotionally shaken and vexed on so many levels, that I don't even know where to begin. *sighs* I will say - to the narrative's credit - that it's well written, emotionally raw, and Mary's experiences come across as very true to life experiences for incarcerated minority youth for much of the book (not all of it, but a good portion). Tiffany Jackson gets the emotional intimacy and connection of characterizations for this book spot on. The tension in this book is so palpable that I found myself caught between putting the book down and picking it back up eager to read what happens in Mary's overarching case. It's a dark read and thought provoking in many places. At first I thought that this narrative would be something akin to reading the narrative "Push" by Sapphire, because the tone of the narrative felt like that to start (and interestingly enough, the narrative mentions Mary reading it at one point.) The aforementioned book was a rough read for me on its own but I appreciated it because of the real horrors and story told in that vein. This book doesn't go in that direction, but the emotional/physical abuse and fear that Mary endures in places is rage inducing and makes you feel for the character.

If you're sensing a lingering "but" to those notations, you would be hitting the needlepoint spot on. I sincerely want to pretend that ending (and certain events close to the ending) doesn't exist. While I don't mind having the rug pulled out from under me in an apt mystery/thriller, this didn't feel like that kind of story for much of the narrative. At the very least, one would think at this ending "Wait...there's an emotional mismatch here - that really didn't fit the rest of the tone of the story. Even if there were multiple unreliable characters here (and there are: fair warning without delving into too many spoilers), it doesn't make sense to go that direction because the story already had a compelling story in one tone. It reveals a pretty gruesome but notable reality for an underrepresented population."

At worst? This book does need a TW on several counts: several notations of homophobia (though one could argue that its influenced by the prejudices of the observed characters), body/sexual shaming (see previous notation), rape/complicit accessory rape/statutory rape (oh, I have a soapbox coming on this very subject matter on so. many. levels.), animal cruelty and dismemberment (I had to stop reading for a bit after that scene because I wasn't expecting it), among other things.

So, yeah, complex emotions. :(

Full review:

My initial rating upon finishing this book was 4 stars, and looks like I'm going to take it down to 3.5 because...MASSIVE caveats. There are brilliant moments in the narrative that really tugged at my heartstrings. I think the essence of Mary's story is true to the brutality that many young people of color experience in incarceration, juvenile pregnancy, power and abuse in the correctional system, power and abuse in personal relationships, gaslighting, among other things. It's true to life on some things, but ultimately not in others, and particularly with the progression up through the ending, this is a mature YA (I question it being YA, but I think teens could still read this and get something out of it) dark horror/thriller.

At first I thought that this was something that abruptly changed for the tone in the ending and I thought "Wait a minute, I wish that the book hadn't gone in that direction, because it was so good establishing what Mary's experiences were and illuminating some tough realities in characters who are like her." But the more I looked back through the story, the more I realized that it actually had foreshadowed this dark and foreboding tone; every single character in this narrative is one you can't trust on the surface because of the ultimate truths that are revealed about them as the narrative presses forward. It's one big nightmare that while I don't always agree with how it used elements to its execution, it also provides a space where I'm thinking about the narrative complexities and points long after I put the book down.

The baseline for this story has Mary as a 15/16 year old young black woman convicted in a juvenile home for troubled youth up until the age of 19. She's accused of killing a white infant which has a ton of media coverage and accounts close to Mary's case (which are brilliantly provided in snippets throughout the text, and it gives the narrative an authentic and complex feel). She's struggling to try to make a better life for herself, trying to get the opportunity to take the SAT, getting an education, confronting what seems to be PTSD surrounding details of the case that she's shut out because she doesn't feel like she has a voice or that people will believe her about what *actually* happened. Things become more complicated when Mary realizes that she's pregnant and the system will take away her unborn child if she doesn't say/do something. Hence begins the ball rolling as Mary struggles through hostile and demeaning/neglectful oversight, stern judgment from superiors and peers, a complete lack of support from her mother (her mother's blind religious hypocrisy and self-indulgence had me seeing red through the entire narrative, I thought in my mind "I've read/known about people who have done this to their children, and I can't deal because they are freaking horrible.") among other things to essentially get out of this entire ordeal. It creates sympathy for Mary's situation while holding back pieces of the actual case, revealing them in snippets as the story progresses.

Mary's baby father, Ted, is 18/19, at first appears supportive of Mary's efforts to get out of the system and be with her for the sake of being with her. Note I emphasize "appears", because once the truth about Ted's past actions comes across, it's...messed up. It's messed up enough that his relationship with her was statutory rape to begin with, but I was legit raging and had to put the book down for a time because of what's revealed about him in further spells. MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD.

No one can tell me to have sympathy for a guy incarcerated because he was complicit in holding down a young woman by her arms to be raped several times. Regardless if he was scared, regardless whether he "let her go", even if he didn't rape her himself, it's clear he was in denial about doing anything wrong and making the excuse he was "young" when it happened. Mary sees the hypocrisy in this and is sickened by it in spells, but exhibits denial about it in others - which angered me. Further reveals of Ted's character showcase him getting extra money by pocketing part of the money that a woman named Letitcia gets from her relationships and him bumming off from others relationships - which Mary uncovers going to visit him. I'm legit horrified by this (as is Mary). Mary attempts to get away from him even on that measure, but then goes back to being in denial about his actions/demeanor in spells. One could probably argue that Mary's demeanor was in constant denial about many, many things because the emotional weight of all that she endures, but this was something that messed me up reading this story.

(spoiler show)



So ultimately speaking, Ted can screw right off as far as I'm concerned. The horrifying part of this book in many notations is that it feels so vivid and realistic that I could actually see it happening from Mary's viewpoint, particularly with the way she wrestles with her reality and relationships more often times than not. I can see it even it there are details which aren't as ironed out as smoothly as they could've been. I think that's one of the things that sucked me into the story: that I believed it was Mary's experience and her voice is attuned to all the people she's surrounded by, fatal flaws and all. She's a compelling narrator, and I definitely felt for her and for many of the characters in the narrative. Hence when I finished "Allegedly", I felt like I could give it credit for the strong assertions, strong protagonist, and illumination of many different measures in a realistic way.

But at the same time, I feel like that even with knowing the narrative foreshadowed these revelations with the characters and case in itself, the transition and translation of that wasn't as strong as it should've been. So I've asked myself "Is this a 4 star read, is this a 3 star read? I'm going back and forth about it because as much as I liked the emotional resonance in it, I didn't like elements within it and how they were used."

So in the end, it's a strong 3.5 star read for me, and I'd encourage others to read this for the strong themes and character resonance, but be warned that the subject matters are mature and triggering.

Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-03-16 03:54
Review: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
We Are Okay - Nina LaCour

Quick review for a quick read. Leave it to Nina LaCour to tug at my heartstrings every single time I pick up a book from her. For what it's worth, I did enjoy "We Are Okay" though it wasn't as strong for me as some of the author's other narratives (a.k.a "Hold Still"). It's the story of a young woman named Marin who escapes her life after a series of tragedies and has to come to terms with them as her best friend reunites with her over Winter Break while she's in college.

I wasn't surprised by Marin's actions given that I knew she was in a state of denial, grief, and anguish, but it was the reasons behind those emotions that kept me pushing through the novel to see them in full. I'll admit that at times the delivery of these story details is uneven and took me some time to push through, but I always respect and appreciate the genuine way LaCour's able to dig into the raw emotions of her characters. There's much that haunts Marin, and it takes an exploration of the past meeting the present to bring it together (trading between months of memories and present details). I appreciated the range of emotions and coming to terms that Marin shows through the narrative, and felt for her on the note of her relationships with her mother and grandfather, as well as her best friend Mabel and roommate Hannah. The narrative features a prominent character of color and a lesbian relationship with enough moments to feel for the characters even through the events that affect them. I enjoyed getting to know the range of characters in this book and thought it did a fine job of showcasing the dedication of people around Marin to let her know she wasn't lost or forgotten, though her journey after her experiences had her mentally wading through some dark places (some of which I'll admit resonated with me because I've been in that headspace as a result of loss - in more ways than one - before. I don't know if I'd even think to do what Marin did ultimately, but I could see the reasons behind her behavior.)

In the end, it was a solid reading experience for me, a story that I could definitely get behind though it did take some wading through slower, uneven moments in the narrative to get there.

Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-03-15 04:15
Review: Summerlost by Ally Condie
Summerlost - Ally Condie

Quick review for a quick read. I was first introduced to "Summerlost" through a snippet offered on NetGalley, but I later checked out a full version of the book from my local library. This definitely satisfied my longing for a quick read in the form of a fulfilling MG/teen summer story. It's Ally Condie's middle-grade debut about a girl named Cedar who's coping with her first summer after her father's and brother's tragic accident. She returns to the town of Iron Creek for the summer, meeting a boy named Leo and volunteering her time at a theater festival called Summerlost. It is also a chance for her to join Leo in a side job directing tours surrounding the 2oth anniversary of the death of a Hollywood actress whose life was cut short due to tragic circumstances as well.

This proved to be a very quick read in the audiobook form, and I found Cedar's voice to be cheerful and easy to follow. The story provided some nice turns of showcasing the strong bond between Leo and Cedar, as well as illuminating and valuable showcases of Cedar with her family, though in brief spells. The setting was probably the strongest part of this narrative. I did feel that some parts of the narrative left much to be desired for deeper emotional development and narrative styling, but I liked the theme and enjoyed the overarching story for what it offered.

Overall score: 3/5 stars.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?