Where do I even start with this? I'll start by saying this review isn't going to be much use to anyone. My biases both for and against it are numerous and strong.
On the negative side: I know the author. I've known her for ... god, decades. And I'm not her greatest fan, and neither is she mine. I write this knowing that odds are good she's got google alerts turned on, and is therefore likely to see it. I doubt she'd disagree; she undoubtedly thought me a spoiled princess (I was spoiled), and I thought her unsupportably arrogant and bossy. I can find arrogant amusing, but I'm afraid I've never handled bossy people gracefully.
Now that I've aired that dirty laundry, my bias on the positive side is so strong I bought the book in spite of myself, and paid an exorbitant amount to ship it here. Because Englewood is not only my home town, it was my father's home town too, and my grand-daddy was one of the first to settle it in the early 1900's, coming to help his uncle in the logging industry, but staying for the fishing. I grew up hearing the stories of living in Florida when nobody else did, begging my dad to tell them after dinner on the weekends.
My daddy was incredible at telling a story, and I wasn't the only one who thought so. He was interviewed often by area reporters during slow news cycles, and Harris was a columnist for the town newspaper, specialising in chronicling the history of Englewood's pioneers, many of whom were at least as good at telling a story as my daddy was. This book is a collection of some of those columns, making it esoteric in the extreme, and therefore of little interest to anyone outside Florida, but incredibly precious to me.
The writing is nothing special; she often repeats herself within the same column, and there are numerous typographical errors; at least once she got someone's name wrong and in one column, the place she was talking about moved locations midway through; the print quality of the book itself, and the images, is ... not great. But it doesn't matter; I don't hear her when I read these stories - I hear the people who told them, in their voices, as I knew them when there were alive. Harris can harp about copyright all she wants, but these aren't her stories or her recollections; for me she'll only ever be the transcriptionist, and because of that I can love this book and appreciate her efforts to record what is really my history, before it was lost for good.
The story of Black Lives Matter has been unfortunately rather horribly distorted and lost in the media. People call it a terrorist organization that should be subject to monitoring by the FBI (maybe it is...), see it as a bunch of angry black people who feel entitled to reparations and free stuff, that it was actually founded by a white man (!?), etc. This book is the memoir of Patrisse Khan-Cullors, one of the founders of BLM and how she (and others) came to BLM and this moment in history.
It's a story of her life and family. Her brother's struggles with mental illness and law enforcement and the justice system. How the author herself came to eventually identify as Queer. Her relationships with others and growing up in a system and a country that doesn't care for her or her family or others like her.
It's a painful and sometimes harrowing read. Other topics that are covered include sexual assault, drug abuse, poverty, domestic violence, homophobia/queerphobia, death at the hands of the state and law enforcement and more. It is not extremely detailed but these topics and others do get discussed in the text and it's unavoidable. Unfortunately the audience that really needs to read this book won't, not because of the subject matter itself but it's because they're not willing to look at why there is the need for Black Lives Matter.
I think some of the criticisms of the book have merit. Initially, I was under the impression that this was the story of BLM itself and how Cullors came together with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. There is some of that towards the end but this wasn't quite what I thought it would be. And tied to that it's important to remember that this is just one person's story. It's probably close to impossible to capture *the* story of BLM given the history, political/social context, etc. but this book also made me curious to hear Garza's and Tometi's (and the stories of others) if they wish to share.
But overall it's a must-read. It's flows very well despite stuff that normally really bothers me (lack of quotation marks, sometimes what felt like moving back and forth in time, a co-writer, etc.). I found it to be a quick read despite the subject matter and while it's early I would call it the best book I've read so far. It wouldn't surprise me to see this nominated for awards and popping up on reading lists (which it should). It's definitely a title I'd recommend if you want to learn more about Black Lives Matter, what black people go through in the US and more.
This reader's personal opinion, ©2018, all rights reserved, not to be quoted, clipped or used in any way by goodreads, Google Play, amazon.com or other commercial booksellers*
Well, this stayed unexpectedly action-packed start to finish so was fun (particularly when turning to the James Bond international espionage drawing in MI-6, CIA, FBI, NSA...).
I enjoyed the read.
Not sure it's what I'd consider Young Adult. Lots of romantic possibilities with yummy men (not what I'd consider a love triangle, thank goodness -- but definitely a PG or less explicitness so maybe that accounts for the "YA"? Lexi is an independent adult with degree, steady job, own home, not a teenager, not a 18-24 college student or new adult, not in any academy type of setting -- pretty much not seeing where this is YA.
Which is a good thing; YA is a love/hate for me with many great books but far more angst-y, clueless, high school-ish, and loveg ringlets.
Read for the booklikes' YA Book Club; I think it may have been just me unless someone has yet to join in or post.
*©2018. All rights reserved except permission is granted to author or publisher (except Penumbra Publishing) to reprint/quote in whole or in part. I may also have cross-posted on The Reading Room, Libib, LibraryThing, and other sites including retailers like kobo and Barnes and Noble. Posting on any site does not grant that site permission to share with any third parties or indicate release of copyright.
Ratings scale used in absence of a booklikes suggested rating scale:
★★★★★ = All Time Favorite
★★★★½ = Extraordinary Book. Really Loved It.
★★★★☆ = Loved It.
★★★½☆ = Really Liked.
★★★☆☆ = Liked.
★★½☆☆ = Liked parts; parts only okay. Would read more by author.
★★☆☆☆ = Average. Okay.
★½☆☆☆ = Disliked or meh? but kept reading in hopes would improve.
★☆☆☆☆ = Loathed It. Possibly DNF and a torturous read.
½☆☆☆☆ = So vile was a DNF or should have been. Cannot imagine anyone liking. (Might also be just an "uploaded" word spew or collection that should not be dignified by calling itself a "published book." If author is going batshit crazy in the blogosphere over reviews -- I now know why they are getting bad reviews. Or maybe author should take remedial classes for language written in until basic concepts like using sentences sink in. Is author even old enough to sign a publishing contract or do they need a legal guardian to sign for them?)