I finally got some reading time in last week. The weather around here has been torrential and we’d love to be at the lake instead of inside, but just like everything else this year – things are not like normal! 🤷🏼♀️
Before moving onto some #minibookreviews, here are some recent posts:
What have you been reading (and loving) this week?
Last Week’s Reads:
📱 *** The Vanishing Half by: Brit Bennett
“You can escape a town, but you cannot escape blood. Somehow, the Vignes twins believed themselves capable of both.”
It’s interesting to have read this book at this time – this time of social unrest on behalf of the Black community. It’s interesting to have read a book that parallels what the protests and riots are fighting against – something that has been happening since the founding of this nation.
As a privileged white woman, I cannot begin to understand all the nuance of this topic. I have no idea what it feels like to live in daily fear because of the color of my skin. I can’t pretend to know what must go through a Black person’s mind every time they come in contact with a police officer.
So I read. I listen. I learn. I try. I fail. I try again.
Thank you, Brit Bennett, for being one of the authors I was able to turn to this week to gain more insight and understanding into the issue(s) at hand. Thank you for writing so beautifully that your reach will assuredly be far and wide, providing talking points to start and further the conversations. Through the lens of our current situation, the Vignes twins became such unforgettable teachers and I feel grateful to be a holder of their story. I especially understand the importance of translating that new insight into actionable behavior that furthers the plight of the Black community – not just today, but every day from this day forward.
TL;DR: READ THIS BOOK! There’s no doubt this will be one of my top books of the year! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
📖 White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by: Robin DiAngelo
I’ve known for a long time that I have personally benefitted from being white and being socialized by a society that benefits white people. I can recognize that, while I believe I’m not a racist person, much of my behavior and/or thoughts and comments say otherwise. For these reasons (and more!), this book is an absolute necessary read for white people!
“I then ask, “What would it be like if you could simply give us feedback, have us graciously receive it, reflect, and work to change the behavior?” Recently a man of color sighed and said, “It would be revolutionary.”
I believe the revolution has started…and I intend to continue to listen, read, watch, learn, and grow. Today and every day going forward. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
(As a side note: to read The Vanishing Half at the same time as White Fragility was a phenomenal experience – a fiction book that’s reinforced by a non-fiction narrative. It really helped solidify many of the issues and I feel like I gained a deeper understanding.)
📖 *** Real Life by: Brandon Taylor
I’m a little confused, a lot frustrated, and deeply touched by this book.
Let’s start with the confusion…I’m not entirely sure what the point of the book is. Was it to showcase Wallace’s profound sadness, highlight his learned helplessness, or to demonstrate the heaviness the world hands Black gay men? Maybe a little bit of all of the above? At times, I felt like the story was just one long run on sentence (not literally, but figuratively), which leads me to my second point…
The extreme frustration! I immediately loved Taylor’s writing style and was sucked right into the book, but I was so incredibly annoyed that there was little to no character development throughout the story. Maybe that’s the point, but also, there were times I just wanted to scream at Wallace to just do something…anything at all, just something! I hated how he gave into every single person in his life and wanted to see a backbone every now and then. He was so committed to keeping the peace, but it often came at his own expense.
“The most unfair part of it, Wallace thinks, is that when you tell white people that something is racist, they hold it up to the light and try to discern if you are telling the truth. As if they can tell by the grain if something is racist or not, and they always trust their own judgment. It’s unfair because white people have a vested interest in underestimating racism, its amount, its intensity, its shape, its effects. They are the fox in the henhouse.”
Lastly, despite the two criticisms mentioned above, this book was deeply touching and moved me. I won’t soon forget Wallace or Miller (though I despised him so much). The story of Real Life showed the nuance of racism and how society treats men of color. Many characters highlight this and Taylor does a good job of telling that part of the story without interfering. After finishing White Fragility and The Vanishing Half, this is another book that highlights the problematic behavior of our current cultural, social, and political climate. ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
📖 On the Come Up by: Angie Thomas
I really enjoyed The Hate You Give, but I think Thomas really hit her stride in her follow-up novel, On the Come Up! Once again, Thomas explores themes of poverty, police brutality, racism, gangs, and drugs.
Bri wants nothing more than to become the next big rapper. She has a strong desire to accomplish the goals her father had when he was suddenly murdered by rival gang members. But she also has to navigate how to do that while staying true to herself – not just forming into an image of her father.
Thomas demonstrates her talent once again with this book that was a true page turner for me. Not only does she present the challenges facing Black youth today, she gives us a totally new understanding and perspective of those issues. She develops empathy and compassion in her readers. I read this book with my children and she helped open the door to understanding for my own children – white, privileged children who have a hard time fully grasping what’s going on throughout the United States this past week due to their rural upbringing.
I’m a fan of Angie Thomas and can’t wait to read what she writes next! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
📖 My Time Among the Whites: Notes from an Unfinished Education by: Jennine Capó Crucet
Last October, Crucet gave a campus talk at Southern Georgia University about diversity and the college experience. After addressing white privilege in a Q-and-A session, white students became upset and began buring her books. The irony is not lost on me and I immediately ordered the book in support of Crucet. As race and white privilege continue to dominate the headlines, I decided to finally pick it up.
My Time Among the Whites is a collection of essays that address the “American Dream” and the whiteness that permeates our society. As a first generation college graduate, Crucet was pushed by her parents to get an education and to excel, but she explores what that means within the context of our nation’s complicity in furthering the white narrative while largely disregarding the immigrant and people of color.
I really liked this collection and found Crucet’s insights deep and thought-provoking. There are a lot of things I haven’t ever thought to ponder, but will do so now that it has been brought to my attention. This is another book that fits nicely into the anti-racist category and lends a Latinx voice to the narrative. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
📖 How to Be an Antiracist by: Ibram X. Kendi
I read about 1-2 chapters every day from this book – enough to gain insight and understanding and then give myself some time to think about it, reflect, own my blindspots, and sometimes, even go back and reread parts. Not only do I plan to do this for the duration of the book, but I plan to do this off and on from here on out.
This book is a wonderful starting point – and even just a wonderful book suggestion for white people. I think it should be added to high school and college curriculums, and I’ll be having my children read and discuss it with me.
📖 As Bright As Heaven by: Susan Meissner
The reviews for this one are so good, but it’s really not working for me. In all honesty, I’m skimming most of it and I’ll finish it out this way, but I really just find this to be a very odd story. The first one hundred pages were about undertakers and mortuaries and I almost DNF’d it then, but I continued only because of the parallels of the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 to the Coronavirus pandemic of today. Perhaps it would read differently to me if I wasn’t actually living the exact same scenario out in real life, but I’m just really removed from this one.