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text 2018-03-01 19:30
Controversial Reads
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
Love, Hate and Other Filters - Samira Ahmed
This Is Where It Ends - Marieke Nijkamp

I love books that make me feel something. Whether it is loss, pain, regret, happiness or love. The fact that the book has an effect emotionally to a reader means it has a very legitimate tie to the real world. This is the exact reason I wanted to read these three books. I knew it would provoke something in me and create discussion. I'm all for discussion, as long as its an adult and mature one. I know that my views are not shared by everyone and this is why I have held off on reviewing these books. But I feel we sometimes hide too much because of the fear. The fear that we will be yelled at, blamed, called names. So while I debate on whether to review these and other controversial books, Id like to know how you guys feel. 


Maybe not about the books above, but regarding books that hit a nerve. I'm interested to hear what you think

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review 2018-02-27 09:32
Disperse this book widely, please.
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

The Hurt U Give (THUG) An important read for younger readers, especially those who have little in common with the characters in this story. It's vital that more people understand the issue of police brutality from the standpoint of those most often in its crosshairs. This book could go a very long way toward achieving that. Woven smartly through the overall theme were issues of family, poverty, community, education, parenting, innocence, and best of all: the worth of those who have been imprisoned portrayed magically through Big Mav.


All of those things are great. I'm thrilled to know people in rural areas are reading it, people all over the world are reading it, that it will be a movie and I will certainly be buying copies for young people in the future, because it's a book that teaches many lessons.


Nonetheless, at times it felt pedantic and laugh-aloud funny with definitions written into the prose for common terms and actions. Because this book is meant to be read widely, hopefully by those who have the least in common with Starr, her awesome family and her community, these moments that pulled me sharply away from the story might be unobtrusive and reassuring to another reader. The problems with these explanations for me was 1) there are too many of them and 2) they are borderline pedantic, and 3) they felt clunky and slowed the pace considerably from an important story.


Here's an example (hang on while I find one...OK back) This is from the part where Chris and Starr are in Seven's car and she sees her neighborhood through what she imagines Chris' eyes to be, "There's lots of hoopties, cars that should've been in the junk-yard a long time ago." (Kindle Edition, Chapter 22, p. 379.) Why not simply, "There's lots of hoopties." Until just now I didn't realize that wasn't a word everyone would know. I'm 50 and it's been around as long as I can remember. I'm on the opposite coast from this book's setting, so at least in the US, it's not regionally specific.


At those times THUG felt to me like a teaching aid for white people, which it certainly could and should be. Distracting or not, these "explainers" mean many more people can enjoy the book (though dictionaries and internet searches never killed anyone.) I thought, frequently, while reading this book that between the strong family setting, the clear love for everyone involved, the excellent manners and picture-perfect characters this would be another great book for white readers to break into the lived black experience. Angie Thomas makes Starr the perfect vehicle for innocent children made into monsters by virtue of skin color and environment.


Along those lines, it seemed a bit too happily ever after too, but once again, I'm reading a book I'm way too old for, and the style is very clearly for young readers. That's not me. It's hard to fault a book for being what it is when I am clearly not the intended reader.


I could quibble more but I won't. I will give this book to the lovers and the marchers and the peacemakers and the many I hope will learn from it. (I'm praying the banning of this book in some areas means lots of kids are smuggling copies into their houses and reading it late at night.)


Because if nothing else, this one point about children being made into monsters by media and increasingly terrified police officers, victims tried in the court of public opinion is a strong and vital message. Any way we can get more people to understand it is fine by me. It's vital -- quite literally a life and death issue. The more we can show the humanity in all to those for whom city-dwelling brown people are foreign, the more we will hopefully - with work - change this issue. This is a welcoming story with likeable, sympathetic characters with whom people will easily empathize.


Go out, buy physical copies, give them to everyone you think might need it. Leave them in public places. Disperse this book widely, please.


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review 2018-01-22 19:56
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

A lot of people have already written great reviews of this book. I highly recommend Obsidian Blue's review, which you can find here, as an example of strong review. I'm not going to try to outdo the reviews that have already been written, so think of this as my voice added to the chorus, focused specifically on how the book resonated with me.


Angie Thomas has a gift for characterization and a unique narrative voice. Starr, the main character, was complex, convincing and compelling. She infused her characters with realism and her settings with the kinds of details that make a place come alive. Nothing is one dimensional for Angie Thomas, or even for Starr. She doesn't insult her readers by suggesting that complex questions are simple.


I devoured this book, reading it in about two hours. I was immersed in Starr's world. This book is the reason that #weneeddiversebooks. I need diverse books. Hearing Starr's voice has, in a very real way, changed my perspective. She provided me - 51 year old white lady - with a window into her world. I can only imagine that if I were a young black girl, having her as a mirror would be immeasurably satisfying.


Anyway, read Obsidian's review. And then read this book. 

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review 2018-01-12 20:43
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

Wow. This book was phenomenal. it completely lived up to the hype.


I have a lot of thoughts on this so here they are (keep in mind this is coming from an Asian American from the Bay Area):


I loved how educational it was. It really made you understand the Black Lives Matter movement and the reality of it. It hit every single point and put you right in the middle of it.

I also liked how Angie Thomas made brought up big points in really subtle ways. For example, “Funny how it works with white kids though. It’s dope to be black until it’s hard to be black” (11). That is so true. People only like black culture when it’s cool , but the minute something bad happens to the black community, they distance themselves from it. But the quote that really hit hard was, “Funny. Slave masters thought they were making a difference in black people’s lives too. Saving them from their ‘wild African ways.’ Same Shit, different century. I wish people them would stop thinking that people like me need saving” (246). I read that quote and was like, damn, preach it girl!


The minority alliance between Starr and Maya made me so happy. It was so good to see a black girl and her Asian best friend team up. Angie Thomas could have done a bit more with it, but it was still nice to see it included. Personally, I think we need more minority alliances because there is more that unites us than divides us and together we can make a big impact. #Asians4BlackLives


I also liked that this tackled interracial dating. It added an extra layer to the complexity of this novel.


The pop culture references were a really nice and unexpected touch. I was definitely not expecting High School Musical and the Jonas Brothers to be mentioned in this book.


Overall, this book was everything. It should be taught in schools because despite being fiction, it was so informative, thought provoking, and leaves the door open for a lot of discussion.

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text 2018-01-12 05:39
Reading progress update: I've read 409 out of 464 pages.
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
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