I’m coming at you a day early because my June Wrap-Up post will go live on Wednesday. I know we all say it, but I cannot believe we’re halfway through 2021 already! Where have the months gone?!?!
Sometime in the near future, I’ll round up my #HalfwayTopTen for you – I just need to find the time to get it done! (In the mean time, you can find my previous #HalfwayTopTen posts here: 2019 and 2020.)
*** What We Carry by Maya Shanbhag Lang
My grandma immigrated to the United States in 1951, and I saw pieces of her story within Lang’s. Of course, no two stories are the same, but what really struck me was the fugality and hard work that many immigrants speak about. Throughout Lang’s story, she talked about how her mother spent very little money and that everything she ever did was for her and her brother. Later, some of that sacrifice would come into question, but regardless, this is a theme I’ve heard from so many immigrants.
When Lang is older and has a daughter of her own, her mother’s mental health takes a sharp decline. Eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, this was a part of the story that was hard for me to read. My own grandma has also been lost to us, and it is one of the hardest and saddest things I’ve ever had to witness. I appreicated this part book for helping add understanding to what I see with my grandma, and also for showing me what may still be in our future.
*** Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
This is different than a typical romance – there are a lot of complex issues explored and I enjoyed reading it! I really liked the characters and rooted for Shane and Eva from the first page. Their rekindled romance is complicated from a past of misunderstandings and unknown circumstances. Throughout the pages, we come to see what split them apart all those years ago, while also rooting for them to be able to find forgiveness to move forward together.
One aspect I really liked about the book was the exploration of an invisible disability – Eva suffers from severe and debilitating migraines – and feel it adds a lot to the conversation of having compassion and empathy for people because we are not always privy to what is actually going on with others. “Sick” does not always have a “look”, and I really remember this when my mom was going through chemotherapy for cancer. The nueropathy got so bad that she would often need to get one of those motorized shopping carts and people would give her the rudest looks thinking she was just too lazy to walk. Yes, on the outside, she looked perfectly capable, but she couldn’t feel her feet so she was nervous to fall down, and after too much walking, her legs would just give out. Anything that helps highlight how we can be better humans will come highly recommended by me!
Everything about this one feels like the perfect summertime read, so be sure to add it to your TBR!
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
I made a goal to read 12 modern classics this year (1 per month), and so far, I’ve failed miserably with this goal. This was my 3rd book so far this year and I was pleasantly surprised. Things Fall Apart is set in Nigeria and mostly follows Okonkwo, a man with high standing within his villiage. The first part of the book really sets the scene for the reader and I learned a great deal about the Nigerian culture. In this section, Okonkwo also falls from grace and is exiled from his community for seven years. He loses his standing within the villiage and a lot of the material wealth he had acquired during his life. By the time he is allowed to return, life in the village has changed. Missionaries have moved in and are trying to change the culture of the Ibo tribe.
There are so many interesting themes in this book – decolonization, religion, African identity, etc – but at its heart is the clash of cultures. As history seems to show, Western civilization feels it’s their job to assert their cultures and ideas upon many others, and Achebe brilliantly shows the other side of this perspective. Considering this was the 50th anniversary edition of this book, Western intervention still has a long ways to go.
There are many opportunities here for rich discussion, so if you can find some friends that are up for a buddy read, this would be a great selection!
(#partner #freebooks: All books noted by asterisks (***) indicate I received the book for free from the publisher, the author, or another promotional company to review. All opinions are my own.)