An American Marriage / Book Review

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“But home isn’t where you land; home is where you launch. You can’t pick your home any more than you can choose your family. In poker, you get five cards. Three of them you can swap out, but two are yours to keep: family and native land.” 

I finally got around to finishing this book last week, and wanted to talk to you all about it. To be honest, I liked this infinitely more than I thought I would, and I have been feeling that way about a lot of books that have come out in 2018.

The story follows a young married couple, Roy and Celestial. They are young and happily married for about a year and a half before their world is completely turned around. Roy is arrested for a crime he did not commit, and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Over time, things change, and people move on. The rest of the novel tells the story of two people who are lost and how they deal with how their lives are going.

The book is told in three different perspectives- Roy, Celestial, and a close friend-Andre. This was my favorite part of the book. You get to see every point made from every possible perspective. It made the story much more detailed and rich, and allowed you to go into every situation with more perspective. There are points in the story where it is easy to ‘choose sides,’ and the different viewpoints made it easier to realize how important each one was.

This book was well-written, heartbreaking, and incredibly thought-provoking. It gave incredible insights to the intricacies of being married, racial profiling and being a person of color in America, the legal system, and the lengths you will go for someone you love.

There wasn’t one single aspect in this book that left me unsatisfied. I was very nervous towards the end of the story because I wasn’t quite sure what the final pages would hold, but it turned out in such a perfect and somewhat unexpected way.

Does it turn out in the perfect, ‘traditional’ way? No, it doesn’t. But for me it felt like the only way for the story to end.

This was a book that will have me contemplating it for the considerable future. I would highly recommend it for any fiction fans.

 If you have read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it!

The No Disclaimers Book Tag

It’s me, just complaining about stuff in books. The original questions that I am answering are listed below!

1). Which trope (or tropes) in books, annoy you the most?

2). Which writer or writers do you feel are overrated/overhyped?

3). What are your least favorite books you’ve read, since joining BookTube?

4). A terrible ending, that ruined an otherwise quality book?

5). Which Fictional Character(s) do you wish were not killed off?

6). What are some of your bookish pet peeves?

7). What are some books you feel should have more recognition?

8). What are your thoughts on censorship, and banning books?

9). Who do you tag?

If you agree or disagree with my answers or want to answer the questions yourselves, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thoughts on My Heart and Other Black Holes

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“I once read in my physics book that the universe begs to be observed, that energy travels and transfers when people pay attention. Maybe that’s what love really boils down to–having someone who cares enough to pay attention so that you’re encouraged to travel and transfer, to make your potential energy spark into kinetic energy.”

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This past week I stumbled upon a young adult novel that interested me enough to listen to the audiobook. When a YA book makes an attempt to delve into a deep, dark subject, I am almost always intrigued by it.

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga talks about teenagers who truly, actually want to die. They have experienced horrible events in their life and are depressed enough to want to end it all with suicide. The story follows a young Turkish girl named Aysel, whose father is in prison for murder. The town looks down on her because of her father and she has no one to turn to. She has a very real depression that I could relate to and understand.

During these struggles, she is in a physics class that teaches her about energy. While wishing to die she struggles with the idea that energy can be transferred, but never destroyed. What happens when she dies? To the energy of her life?

She decides that she can’t kill herself alone, she needs a ‘suicide partner.’ By stumbling upon a forum online, she discovers a young man her age named Roman. Roman also wants to kill himself for personal reasons, and even has a specific date that he wants to do it- April 7th.

Aysel and Roman become closer over the course of the month that they have before April 7th arrives. They discover the horrible, twisted things that have brought them to this point, and more about each other and themselves than they thought they would.

So, initially, for the first 75% of the book at least, I loved it. The depression was extremely brutal and realistic, ESPECIALLY for a book geared towards a young audience. The author tackles tricky conversations about mental illness, crime, and the difficulties of growing up when no one is there for you very well.

*This part of the review contains some spoilers*

For me, the issue I had came in about three quarters of the way through this novel. Aysel very quickly ‘recovers’ from this deep depression she is suffering, and her whole outlook on life has changed. She realizes that life IS worth living, mostly because she has found this boy who listens to her and understands her feelings.

I understand the appeal of writing the story this way. It made the ending a whole lot easier to stomach and it gave the reader hope at the conclusion of this book. However, I am uncomfortable with the idea that Aysel was able to almost completely change her outlook on life overnight without ever having a conversation with an adult or professional, or seeking any kind of mental health advice. It just seems dangerous for such a young audience to read something like that.

While Roman’s mental health issues stayed consistent throughout the entire novel (even throughout the hopeful ending), Aysel’s did not. It did not ring true for me, and I couldn’t understand the immediate and sudden change that this character had.

The idea that this young, depressed girl would immediately ‘perk up’ and get over her very serious issues after meeting a handsome boy who feels the same way is dangerous and I can’t support it. 

Depression doesn’t come and go like this. Mental illness takes hard work, perseverance, and people by your side to help you. I would only never recommend this book to someone younger to me because I thought the ending portrayed the exact opposite sentiment.

If you have read this book, I would love to hear your thoughts and whether or not you agree or disagree! 

Weekly Favorites 6

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I only have one favorite to share this week, but it was a fantastic book!

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Educated by Tara Westover was the only book I read this month that I gave 5 stars to on Goodreads. Those ratings are too vague, and don’t mean much, but I don’t give a lot of books that rating.

This memoir follows Tara Westover, who grew up waiting for the End of Days. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping for her family to live on when the rest of the world ceased to exist. I almost couldn’t believe this was a true story.

She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate.

She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a school, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals.

According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist.

As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen she decided to take her education into her own hands. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains-to Harvard and to Cambridge.

Even through years and years of struggle to get the education she wanted, she also has to decide how to live with the family she has been given.

I was absolutely enamored by Tara’s story. It was so inspiring to see a woman with absolutely no formal education at all, on top of years of abuse and brainwashing, strive to pass her ACT, and then go on to get a PhD from Cambridge.

I won’t lie, parts of this book are extremely difficult to get through. There are scenes of extreme abuse, and graphic injuries as well. The most astounding part of this book for me was the fact that her family doesn’t believe in doctors. When someone in the family gets ill, Tara’s mother gives them herbs and essential oils to heal them. They can’t even take Tylenol. When Tara’s father is burned to the point of near death, they don’t go to the hospital. They let him ‘heal’ at home. Absolutely horrifying.

The writing is lovely, honest, and brutal. I listened to this as an audiobook the first time, and wished I hadn’t. I didn’t really enjoy the narrator’s voice. However, I was so in love with her resolve and passion I finished listening to it and promptly bought the hardcover copy.

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who loves memoirs or a great story of resilience.

 

Also, update- I won’t be sharing my YouTube videos as blog posts anymore. I feel like they clog up too much of the feed on my blog, so there will be a widget on the side showcasing them.

 

Thanks for reading! What were your favorites books this week?

Weekly Favorites 5!

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This week has been full of ups and downs reading-wise. For example I finally read Gone Girl for the first time this week (and was very excited for ti) and loathed it, so that was fun.

I have two books that I will list here that I really enjoyed-

The first one is Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.

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“People really are like house with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.” 

Most of you have probably heard of this book, the movie for it came out last week- Love, Simon. 

This story follows Simon, who is in high school and is secretly gay. He accidentally leaves up his email on one of the school computers and ends up getting blackmailed by another student who saw his secret love interest he was writing to. Throughout the story he deals with coming out, explaining who he is to everyone in his life, his first love, bullying, and the regular struggles of high school.

With hilarious characters and dialogue, as well as a fantastic message for younger audiences- this was a good, fun read. I listened to the audio book for this one, and Michael Crouch did not disappoint as a narrator. He was able to perfectly voice the confused, funny character of Simon.

Here’s my Goodreads review!

 

 

The second book I read this week that I really enjoyed was Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley. Warning- this one is a tearjerker.

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“It’s natural, as our loved ones age, to start grieving their loss even before we lose them.”

This book follows a man named Ted whose best friend is his dachshund Lily. Lily is getting older and has had several health issues, and one day he comes home to find an octopus on her head. I feel that if I say much more about this one I will be spoiling the story for those who want to read it.

I will say that this story is about the special bond that we have with our pets, and how we would do absolutely anything to keep them out of harms way.

Lily and the Octopus was a lovely story. The relationship between Ted and Lily is so adorable- the author includes what Lily is saying back to Ted when he talks to her. I always imagined that it would be difficult to portray a conversation with your pet, but Rowley does an excellent job of it. The story does become very sad, but it is also a rewarding tale as well.

There were some interesting imaginative aspects from Ted’s point of view that I thought could have been left out (you’ll know them when you see them), but overall I just fell in love with the whole book.

Here’s my Goodreads review!

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to visit and read! What books/material did you enjoy reading this week?

This Week’s Favorites! #2

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I had a lot more time this week to get in some reading, so here’s my second favorites post!

Most of what I’ve read over the past two weeks are classics. I read Life of Pi by Yann Martel, after having it on my TBR list for about ten years. I am only sorry to have waited so long.

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“It is true that those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly that we are not the same afterwards, even unto our names.”

This story follows Pi Patel as he is travelling to Canada with his family and some of their zoo animals. The ship wrecks, and Pi is left stranded on a lifeboat with a 450 pound Bengal tiger. Over the next 200 or so days, they brave the elements together, and come to have a special bond. 

Pi’s personality was something I really enjoyed. He isn’t satisfied with one religion, so he proclaims himself as Hindu, Muslim, and Christian. To him, he is loving the same god no matter what, he just loves to worship in different ways. He is kind, even to an enormous cat that could potentially kill him. He is always thinking of the pain that the animals around him suffer, even when he has to eat fish while stranded on the boat. 

The writing was lovely and surreal, the development of characters (especially Richard Parker the tiger) was amazing, and the story was hard to put down. I would highly recommend this to anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

Here’s my Goodreads review of the book:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2044659720?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

 

My second favorite this week is a book that’s also been on my TBR list forever- We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I had watched the movie years ago, and the book has been on my list ever since.

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“I thought at the time that I couldn’t be horrified anymore, or wounded. I suppose that’s a common conceit, that you’ve already been so damaged that damage itself, in its totality, makes you safe.” 

For those of you who don’t know the story, it’s incredibly disturbing. The story is told from the point of view of Eva, who is the mother to Kevin- an emotionless child who ends up becoming a mass murderer. The story follows them as Kevin grows up, hating his mom from a very young age. The book starts before Eva has him, and climaxes into the moment he ruins the rest of her life. The writing is amazing, the story is horrifying but incredibly interesting to read, and the character development left me almost confused on who to root for by the end of the book. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but I’d personally recommend it to anyone who can handle disturbing subject matter.

Here’s my Goodread’s review of the book:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2273389050?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

What are the best things you read/watched this week?