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review 2020-04-11 17:00
Year of Expanded Reading: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
The Sun Is Also a Star - Nicola Yoon

I read this for my book club -- wasn't particularly interested in it going in, so not surprised it only earned three stars from me.

It's a one-day-long love story type of thing, all happening on the day before the female lead is set to be deported. Putting aside the fact that whirlwind, "instant" love stories don't do much for me, this book required a HUGE suspension of disbelief when it came to how much happened in this one day. Like, I don't know about you, but I get 24 hours in my days. These guys seemed to get like 85. The main characters were well-drawn and their relationship is something I maybe could have gotten behind if it had been more of a slow burn. And yeah, I get that teenagers feel epic love for someone they potentially just met, but I'm not a teenager anymore so I don't have to get behind it.

I did like the insight into the experiences of Korean and Jamaican immigrants. All the perspective hopping into minor characters' heads felt a little too artsy-fartsy for my tastes, like this book really wanted to be an indie film.

Well written and a good pick if you like this sort of thing, but it just wasn't for me.

This happened to comply with my Year of Expanded Reading goal to read books by non-white and/or non-American authors. Nicola Yoon is a Jamaican-American author married to a Korean American, which shows how she could portray both perspectives with so much nuance and insight.

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review 2020-04-05 14:51
Year of Expanded Reading: The Inner Voice of Love by Henri J.M. Nouwen
The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom - Henri J.M. Nouwen
It was amazing how pertinent some of these meditations felt to our current situation -- there was one in particular that seemed to be written about social distancing -- when they were written in the 1980s. The reflections were really beautiful, and they are meant to be read and digested slowly. I kind of abused the format of the book because I can really only read uninterrupted during one part of my day, so I read quite a few of them at once when I got my daily "reading time." But if I had known the format beforehand, perhaps I would have adjusted my reading schedule so that each reflection could be savored.

Although many of the essays remained relevant to things I am facing in my life right now, I also saw how they would have spoken to me at different points in my life, too. In particular, this book would be a particular balm to someone who had recently suffered through rejection or unrequited love. The primary theme is about building up your inner sense of self-worth so that you are less dependent on the approval of others.

This is part of my Year of Expanded Reading, which is a focus on reading books by non-white and/or non-American authors. Nouwen was a Dutch priest who spent his life in Holland, the U.S., Peru, and France. Because of the universal spirituality of Catholicism and the "Western" ideologies of the Netherlands, this book did not push me too far outside my comfort zone culturally.
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