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Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia {ARC Review}

Blurb:

In present-day Miami, Jeanette is battling addiction. Daughter of Carmen, a Cuban immigrant, she is determined to learn more about her family history from her reticent mother and makes the snap decision to take in the daughter of a neighbor detained by ICE. Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, must process her difficult relationship with her own mother while trying to raise a wayward Jeanette. Steadfast in her quest for understanding, Jeanette travels to Cuba to see her grandmother and reckon with secrets from the past destined to erupt.

From 19th-century cigar factories to present-day detention centers, from Cuba to Mexico, Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt is a kaleidoscopic portrait of betrayals–personal and political, self-inflicted and those done by others–that have shaped the lives of these extraordinary women. A haunting meditation on the choices of mothers, the legacy of the memories they carry, and the tenacity of women who choose to tell their stories despite those who wish to silence them, this is more than a diaspora story; it is a story of America’s most tangled, honest, human roots.

Review:

Do you know what is better or just as good as a book that is 350 plus pages? A book that is less than 250 pages but packs a powerful punch. That is exactly what you get when you decide to read Of Women and Salt. I was not fully prepared for the story that I was going to ingest when I picked up this book. I honestly thought it was going to be one of those deep, but quick reads. Boy, was I wrong.

This story follows women who are dealing with the world thru addiction, immigration, abuse, and love. The different points of view showcase how complex the world is for women. It shows how women have to deal with so much trauma and at the same time fight to survive. Especially women of color.

I found myself so invested in Jeannette’s story and followed her point of view very closely. She not only had to deal with her addiction, she also had to deal with childhood abuse and hold on to a secret about her father that doesn’t surface until after his death. Her mother, Carmen is completely clueless as to what has gone on in her home. At first I was very angry with Carmen and thought she was just clueless but as more of her story develops you understand that she has demons that she hasn’t dealt with herself.

Ana’s and Gloria’s story is also one that is full of heartbreak and desperation. The lengths a mother goes to in order to provide and protect her family, especially her children. The same can be said for Carmen’s mother, Delores. That was a relationship I wanted to see if more developed after the revelation of what Carmen saw as a child.

In all, this 200 page book could have easily been a 350 plus page book with all the intensity that it had packed into it. I don’t know how Ms. Garcia did it but it is well appreciated. This book was a much better read than some other books that I have read that feature the subject of immigration and racism.

Rating:

4 Golden Girls

Availability:

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook on March 30, 2021

A special thank you to Flatiron Books for my gifted copy in exchange for an honest review.

abuse · black literature · book review · books · crime · diversity · Family · Historical fiction · Literary Fiction · love · memoir · own voices review · Racism · reading

3 Minute Book Reviews featuring: Raceless, The Rib King and Just As I Am

Raceless by Georgina Lawton

I enjoyed listening to this memoir on audio. Georgina narrates it herself. I couldn’t imagine being one race and being raised by another race and my parents not tell me what race I am or even try to incorporate aspects of that race into our daily lives. Ignoring race doesn’t make it go away. Georgina has to battle with self identity as a child and even more so as an adult. She uses her experience to help others that have been in her situation and to educate the masses who are familiar with and follow her work.

I received both a review copy and finished copy of this book from Harper Perennial in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:

4 Golden Girls

Availability:

Available now in paperback, hardcover in some places, ebook, and audiobook

The Rib King by Ladee Hubbard

This book was the type of historical fiction that I needed to take a break from my usual WW2 historical fiction. The story follows two black domestic workers, Sitwell and Jennie who work in the house of the Barclays. At first glance Sitwell appears docile and mild mannered. However, we find out later that is not the case. He is definitely the definition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Jennie appears to be young and naive but she is actually resourceful and strong willed.

I would say that their behavior at work is to be able to keep their job and their behavior outside of work is their true nature. Something these days we call code switching.

I like this book because of the timeframe it is written in and it is not only historical fiction, there is a bit of a mystery/thriller aspect thrown in. This was also a story that tests its characters humanity.

I received a gifted finished copy from Amistad Books

Rating:

3 Golden Girls

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook

Just As I Am by Cicely Tyson

I would like to take a moment of silence to honor the late Cicely Tyson.

I knew the moment that this book came across my radar that I needed to have a copy and read it. I have the physical copy of this book but I felt I wanted to listen to the audiobook and I am glad that I did. Cicely narrates a small section at the beginning but does not narrate the entire book. Robin Miles does an excellent job of narrating Ms. Tyson’s story. I’ve heard her narrate another memoir that I enjoyed call Diamon Doris.

Anyway, Ms. Tyson’s story is one of greatness but not without some pain. She took life’s lemons and made them work. Her work ethic was like no other that I’ve ever heard about in Hollywood. I learned so much about her and about celebrities in this memoir. I knew of her relationship and marriage to Miles Davis but I had no idea that he was such a lost soul.

Ms. Tyson was a force to be reckoned with. She didn’t let anything stand in her way. I admire how she took life by the horns. Her story is inspiring and educational. I am grateful that she was able to get her story written down before passing. That way her story is fully hers.

Rating:

4 Golden Girls

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook

addiction · black literature · book review · books · dedication · diversity · Family · Literary Fiction · love · own voices review · reading

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi {ARC Review}

Blurb:

Yaa Gyasi’s stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national best seller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama.

Gifty is a fifth year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. 

But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family’s loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith, and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanain immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief–a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi’s phenomenal debut.

Review:

I want to start this book by saying that if you are going into this story thinking it is going to be parallel to Homegoing, let me stop you right there. This book is in no way the same type of story. Is this book just as heavy? It is. In my opinion, this book is heavier. I had to sit with this book for a few days to get my thoughts and feelings together because I just had and still have so many.

This story drew me into it in a way that is almost indescribable. Gyasi takes the subjects of faith, science, mental illness, addiction, and family and weaves them into a story that is heartfelt and heartbreaking at the same time. Your emotions are topsy turvy throughout the entire story. You have moments where you want to put the book down because it is almost too much to take in but you can’t because you want to know what is going to happen with each character.

I can never resist a story that makes me look at my own life and wonder how I would handle what the characters are dealing with. This story made me wonder how I would handle a family member’s addiction, the basic rejection of a parent’s love, and caring for a loved one with a depression so deep that you wonder if they are going to survive falling into that deep dark hole. I also never thought I would care so much about scientific research. Gyasi makes you care about it. She sneaks that feeling right into your heart.

This book was worth the wait and you will want to take your time reading it.

Rating:

All four Golden Girls

Availability:

Available September 1, 2020 in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook.

I want to say thank you to Knopf for my free copy in exchange for an honest review.

book review · books · Family · Human Trafficking

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao {Review}

Goodreads Blurb:

A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America, about a once-in-a-lifetime friendship between two girls who are driven apart but never stop trying to find one another again.

When Poornima first meets Savitha, she feels something she thought she lost for good when her mother died: hope. Poornima’s father hires Savitha to work one of their sari looms, and the two girls are quickly drawn to one another. Savitha is even more impoverished than Poornima, but she is full of passion and energy. She shows Poornima how to find beauty in a bolt of indigo cloth, a bowl of yogurt rice and bananas, the warmth of friendship. Suddenly their Indian village doesn’t feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond the arranged marriage her father is desperate to lock down for her. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend again. Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India’s underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face relentless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within them.

In breathtaking prose, Shobha Rao tackles the most urgent issues facing women today: domestic abuse, human trafficking, immigration, and feminism. At once a propulsive page-turner and a heart-wrenching meditation on friendship, Rao’s debut novel is a literary tour de force.

My Review:

I have to say that this novel should definitely come with trigger warnings. I am not one to shy away from certain subjects but there was an incident in the novel that was even hard for me to get thru. When I first started this novel I did not think that I was going to finish it because it didn’t capture me right at first but once I was into the story, I was hooked! This story is set in India for most of the novel and I am so glad that I have read I Am Malala because it allowed me to be familiar with the setting. This is one of those debut novels that people are going to be hungover from after reading it because it is so intense and touches on subjects that society likes to put blinders up to, especially if it is happening in another part of the world that you are not familiar with. Drugs, abuse, sex trafficking, and even self sacrifice. The extremes that Savitha is willing to endure to get away from where she is are just horrifying and the circumstances that Poornima have to deal with are horrifying as well.  The abuse that both of these girls have to endure throughout their existence is on a level that I could not even begin to imagine. This novel is not for the faint of heart but if you want a story that is going to draw you in and show you that there is another part of life that is not all roses and laughter, then this is the novel for you. I am excited to see what others are going to think after reading it once this book becomes available.

Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

Book will be published March 6, 2018 and available as ebook and hardcover.

I received a galley of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

books

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood [review]


I said that I was going to do this review last week, but I have to admit I am just now able to get off the emotional rollercoaster that I was thrown on during and after reading this book. Where do I begin? Aha, how about the beginning. I promise to try not to give away too much information because I want people to read and experience this book on their own.
 

The story begins when a young Wavy is sent to live with her family after her mother is sent away to jail. Wavy is not your typical child. She shows signs immediately that prove she has not had a childhood filled with rainbows and ribbons. She doesn’t eat, talk or liked to be touched. It takes time for her to eventually let her own grandmother touch her and that is not until her grandmother is dying from cancer and even then she doesn’t let others see her interact with her grandmother. Wavy’s aunt and uncle do not know how to care for her, nor do they try to understand her.

 From what I gathered, Wavy’s mother seemed to be passive aggressive, even OCD when it comes to germs. She is also a drug addict and probably suffers from anxiety and depression. Don’t even get me started on her “father”. I put that in quotations because as far as I am concerned that meth making organism didn’t deserve to be called her father.

 When Wavy’s mother gets out of jail, Wavy goes back to live with her. Her mother does okay by her and her new baby brother for only a short time. Soon enough, “dad” shows back up and convinces Wavy’s mother to come back to him.

 After going back to the house on the farm, Wavy is thrown into the role as caretaker for her brother. Soon Wavy encounters Kellen. They relationship that they start building is odd. He becomes her caretaker of sorts. Making sure that the house is clean and that there is food in the house. He also makes sure that Wavy gets to school and even meets with her teacher. Wavys’s mother is in her own world of depression and drugs. Wavy’s “father” is only concerned with his business, women, and his image.

 Wavy begins to finally experience feelings that she has never felt before when she is dealing with Kellen. Kellen also reciprocates these feelings back to Wavy as she grows older. Wavy slowly comes out of her shell around Kellen. He provides the love and nurturing that her parents never gave her and a little more. Eventually, as Wavy gets older these feelings they have for each other develop into more and cause a ruckus in their lives.

 That is where is will stop with the “synopsis” review and bring you to how this book made me feel.

 I gave this book 5 stars before I was finished with it. I could not put it down. I was drawn in and it kept my attention even when things started getting weird. I highly recommend this book and I am quite upset that my book club has not read this book yet. I have voted for it every time it is one of our contenders and it has not won. I am so glad that I decided to read it on my own after having owned it several months, both the ebook and the hardcover. I felt so many emotions while reading this story. I did not want it to end. This is not a story that is meant to put you in the “feel good” moments of life. It will make you uncomfortable and make you think about what you would do in situations. We all say what we would do, but would we really do it? Although fiction, this story is REAL life. This story is something that is happening every day in our world. This is definitely an ugly, but wonderful story.