Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Once you Read I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sanchez You’ll NEVER be the Same!

I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

I LOVE THIS BOOK!! I couldn’t love this book any harder if I tried! Sanchez brings out alot of sensitive issues in this YA book.

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

But this blurb doesn’t begin to describe the depth of the life of our young protagonist. Consider these issues:

  • Julia (pronounced Hoo lee ah) speaks English in the world and Spanish at home
  • Her parents are grieving the loss of Julia’s sister and can’t help with her her loss
  • Julia experiences sexual harassment frequently
  • Insight into immigration
  • Undiagnosed mental illness/suicide
  • School/studying pressues
  • Traditional Hispanic family pressures v Julia’s desires
  • Friendship
  • LGBTQ

There’s a lot to unpack in this book and I feel like Sanchez deftly incorporates these issues into the storyline without smacking you over the head with them and getting preachy. I appreciate that. After finishing I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter you will have a greater understanding of what it’s like to be a young Latinx woman. I wept at times; so so good! I promise you, your life will never be the same.

The issues in the book are so timely right now its hard not to see the connections. This could be any young woman’s life right now.

Also qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge.

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Have you Read Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson?

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

How much do we love Jacqueline Woodson? Infinity. Thats how much we love her. Her books are always timely and Harbor Me is no exception.  This thin, powerful book will hook you from word one.

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat—by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them—everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.

How great is it that special needs kids can feel free to be themselves in this special classroom just for them? It’s a strange and beautiful experience all at once. So many issues to unpack with these kids and they do it too, in their own beautiful ways of understanding. I wept.

How does Woodson do it?

Another book for the Diversity Reading Challenge!

Harbor me ticks off many boxes but the one I’m choosing is Latinx person because Esteban is a main character in this ensemble cast. You could choose another category if you want. Thats the ease of this challenge. Boom.

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson a #Cybils middle grade finalist

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

How much do we love Jacqueline Woodson? Infinity. Thats how much we love her. Her books are always timely and Harbor Me is no exception.  This thin, powerful book will hook you from word one.

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat—by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them—everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.

How great is it that special needs kids can feel free to be themselves in this special classroom just for them? It’s a strange and beautiful experience all at once. So many issues to unpack with these kids and they do it too, in their own beautiful ways of understanding. I wept.

How does Woodson do it?

Another book for the Diversity Reading Challenge!

Harbor me ticks off many boxes but the one I’m choosing is Latinx person because Esteban is a main character in this ensemble cast. You could choose another category if you want. Thats the ease of this challenge.

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Immigration Stories We Need to Hear: America Deconstructed by Chaithanya Sohan and Shaima Adin

America Deconstructed by
Chaithanya Sohan and Shaima Adin

Here’s a collection of immigration stories. Stories so timely and eye opening to their struggles.

Naseer was nine years old when he escaped Taliban and fled Afghanistan with his mom and siblings… “There are some people who are coming to take me away”, chronicles the resilience of a nine year old boy as he traveled from Afghanistan to America in his quest for the American dream. “I saw a ripe mango I’d like to pluck” showcases the love story of Chidiebere and Ifeyinwa, which begins in rustic Nigeria and culminates into a life in America.

Their journey chronicles their struggles with language, culture and being African in America. In the story “ Kosovo, really…cool”, Lisian takes us through his journey to America and often being asked his identity in spite of being white. In the story “I am exotic, mocha, P-diddy”, Parag describes his journey from a young sixth grader who hid his attraction to boys in conservative India to embracing his sexuality in America.

America Deconstructed follows the journeys of sixteen immigrants who have left their home countries in search of the American dream. The stories combine humor and emotions as the protagonists maneuver cultural differences, accents and uncomfortable situations while feeling a sense of belonging in America.

This moving collection counts as part of the Diversity Reading Challenge.

Categories
Children Diversity Reading Challenge

The 12 Books of #Diversity for the Holidays Day 2

The 12 Books of #Diversity for the Holidays

2books-of-diversity

Welcome back to our #diversity countdown to Christmas. Our second book is

Making Friends with Billy Wong by Augusta Scattergood.

Azalea is not happy about being dropped off to look after Grandmother Clark. Even if she didn’t care that much about meeting the new sixth graders in her Texas hometown, those strangers seem much preferable to the ones in Paris Junction. Talk about troubled Willis DeLoach or gossipy Melinda Bowman. Who needs friends like these!
And then there’s Billy Wong, a Chinese-American boy who shows up to help in her grandmother’s garden. Billy’s great-aunt and uncle own the Lucky Foods grocery store, where days are long and some folks aren’t friendly. For Azalea, whose family and experiences seem different from most everybody she knows, friendship has never been easy. Maybe this time, it will be.
Inspired by the true accounts of Chinese immigrants who lived in the American South during the civil rights era, these side by side stories–one in Azalea’s prose, the other in Billy’s poetic narrative–create a poignant novel and reminds us that friends can come to us in the most unexpected ways.

I want you to read this book because, like me, I had limited knowledge of the Chinese population in the South during the 50s and 60s. We need more books with Chinese characters, btw!

 

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Once you Read I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sanchez You’ll NEVER be the Same!

I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

I LOVE THIS BOOK!! I couldn’t love this book any harder if I tried! Sanchez brings out alot of sensitive issues in this YA book.

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

But this blurb doesn’t begin to describe the depth of the life of our young protagonist. Consider these issues:

  • Julia (pronounced Hoo lee ah) speaks English in the world and Spanish at home
  • Her parents are grieving the loss of Julia’s sister and can’t help with her her loss
  • Julia experiences sexual harassment frequently
  • Insight into immigration
  • Undiagnosed mental illness/suicide
  • School/studying pressues
  • Traditional Hispanic family pressures v Julia’s desires
  • Friendship
  • LGBTQ

There’s a lot to unpack in this book and I feel like Sanchez deftly incorporates these issues into the storyline without smacking you over the head with them and getting preachy. I appreciate that. After finishing I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter you will have a greater understanding of what it’s like to be a young Latinx woman. I wept at times; so so good! I promise you, your life will never be the same.

The issues in the book are so timely right now its hard not to see the connections. This could be any young woman’s life right now.

Also qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge.

 

Categories
Children Diversity Reading Challenge

Add Making Friends with Billy Wong by Augusta Scattergood to your Diversity Reading Challenge List

Making Friends with Billy Wong
by Augusta Scattergood

28957386-1

Azalea is not happy about being dropped off to look after Grandmother Clark. Even if she didn’t care that much about meeting the new sixth graders in her Texas hometown, those strangers seem much preferable to the ones in Paris Junction. Talk about troubled Willis DeLoach or gossipy Melinda Bowman. Who needs friends like these!
And then there’s Billy Wong, a Chinese-American boy who shows up to help in her grandmother’s garden. Billy’s great-aunt and uncle own the Lucky Foods grocery store, where days are long and some folks aren’t friendly. For Azalea, whose family and experiences seem different from most everybody she knows, friendship has never been easy. Maybe this time, it will be.

Why you should read it: Well other than because I said so, it’s a look into the civil rights in the South and Chinese immigrants. You know , Blacks weren’t the only ones feeling the pinch of civil rights either, right? So here’s a tale that tweens and young teens can appreciate. Go on and add this title to your Diversity Reading Challenge list. It’s on mine!

 

$6, $8, $10 Event at Crazy8

Categories
Books

Feature Friday Clubhouse – New!

Fridays are special days around here because it’s the day we get to share our friends with you and who doesn’t like to make new friends?  Welcome to our Feature Friday Clubhouse, a place where we share guest posts, interviews, mini reviews and other fun bits from our friends!

Feature Friday clubhouse

Ready?  Wash your hands and grab a cup of coffee and come on in…

Today’s feature is by my new bestie Felicia who has had quite an interesting life.  Here’s an excerpt from her memoir: LANDING IN AMERICA: A memoir story

It’s not that I didn’t want to go.  I did.  But a band began playing a sweet danzón and its syncopated rhythm released, without warning,  the prick of  loss.  Music does this  to me every time.  Bringing the past into the present. The Havana-Miami ferry was about to take off leaving behind the city of my  adolescence when the musicians started playing.  Red faced tourists fresh  from their  “week-end in Havana” sported loosely hung guyaberas  while their wives clutched the grotesque alligator  bags sold in tourist shops.   They were already high on  rum daiquiris and bracing  for a big night on the high seas while I found myself filled with foreboding as I watched the smokestacks belching gray mist into the scorching Cuban sun.

Once again we were on the move,  refugees no more but proper  immigrants with fresh visas tucked inside worn passports,  everything legal and correct, bearing not tired bundles but  hand stitched  pigskin  luggage, monogrammed steamer trunks and the black morocco  nécessaire containing Mutti’s cut crystal flacons and assorted beauty things.   The very nécessaire in whose false lining my father had buried diamonds when we fled Europe during the war.

It wahavanas 1948.  The American quota system,  God bless it,  had made us wait seven years before allowing us into the Promised Land.  Sort of like Jehovah with the Jews in the desert.  My parents, Maurice and Cilli, (that’s Tzilli, the  C pronounced as tz) had opened a fine bottle of  ron añejo  when the visas came although I would have been happy never to hear the word visa  again.  I remembered it only too well as the litany it had been as we tried to  get out of Europe.  Visa, laissez passer, take a number, the line forms to the right.  Poor Maurice, his Polish passport had been our albatross.  Nobody wanted us.
Except the “Pearl of the Antilles”, Cuba.  A few hundred  pesos under the table was all it took to plant us there for the next seven years, almost  half my lifetime back then, long enough to allow me to take root in that rich moist soil, long enough to believe I finally belonged somewhere.  Yet here we were on the move again.   It’s the last time, Mutti, my mother, promised.

My Havana classmates Lydia and Chabela came  to see me off, waving white handkerchiefs, but I saw only Eddie.  He didn’t wave anything, just stared.  At seventeen he was still a long skinny schoolboy with a jutting animated  Adam’s apple.   He had asked me to stay behind, abandon my parents, risk everything.  When I asked him how we would live, he had called me a silly little bourgeois.

At the last minute I saw myself  in a flimsy summer dress running down  the gang plank to  stand beside  him,  like in a film.   Startled, Eddie  pushes me into a taxi but before we can take off, my oldest brother opens the car door and pulls me out.   It is over in a minute.  A story I would hang on to for the rest of my life  though it  only happened  in my imagination.

Maybe I said no because  I was  too curious about America or just not  Cuban enough after all,  not anything enough, not in love enough, not mad enough, neither here nor there enough, me with my Czech mother and  Polish father, with two brothers  born in
Amsterdam and I in Berlin, raised in Antwerp and Havana, it’s too much, really too much to bear.  Back then people often mistook me for a diplomat’s daughter and  sometimes I went along, acting the privileged polyglot.   At other times  I exploited my history,  spinning  tales about  how we barely escaped deportation, the full drama of it.   I could be quite shameless.

The movies seduced me, sold me the idea that  the minute I set foot in America I would be transformed, become a star, bigger than life.  I was only seventeen of course, back in l948 when it was films more than books that taught you how to think and look and hold a cigarette.
Is it  that exiles remember better or does it come from old snapshots, this precise image of my family on the ferry’s  deck, four gauche overdressed passengers sipping frozen daiquiris and staring at the churning gulf stream that so swiftly separates two cultures.   Mutt,  in her salvaged couture outfit with the outsized  silk shantung hat is languidly leaning against the railing in a classic shipboard pose as if this were not 1948 but  another time, another place, as if she were on her way, so God help me, to the Côte d’Azure before the war.

Papi is at her side, looking stiff and stern, all things he was  not, wearing a double breasted suit, his wide trousers flapping in the wind.  And my brother Ernest, is looking very sportif, his shirt open at the neck and his cowlick slicked back,  smiling though I knew even then that he was traveling against his will. My eldest brother Leo, the scoundrel, was not with us.  He had absconded to Mexico ostensibly to study medicine though he quickly switched to art in order to paint like  Rivera,  Orozco and Siquieros who were as famous then as they are deprecated now.  Our parents looked down on the poverty of  artists but  I loved Leo for not being practical.    At the same time  I never quite forgave him for abandoning me  to the banality of our parents’ dysfunctional marriage.Felicia

There was dancing on board that night  and I let a freckle faced boy straight out of an Archie comic briefly hold me in his arms.  My dress, made of a silky rayon cut on the bias, fluttered as we moved.  Eddie had always held me close but this boy’s  exuberant steps manhandled me like a rag doll.  Everything suddenly looked ridiculous and false,  all these tipsy clumsy American tourists doing the rumba , the conga, their frenzied gaiety shattering the stillness of the  moonlit night.   I  went back to the stateroom I shared with Mutti but she wasn’t there and I never heard her come in.

In my mind,  the crossing  has always stood out in black and white mixed with the smell of fresh paint and the sugary taste of the overripe pineapple we were served at breakfast.   In the morning, as the crew prepared to dock, I felt the enormous ferry tremble beneath my feet.  The light was brilliant.  My heart shrank.  Everything seemed enormous and unknown.

We took a  taxi to the New York train.  Through the window I saw, in the golden city of Miami, old  women teetering on platform shoes, their low cut dresses revealing baked, wrinkled skin.  The men followed in pastel colored slacks.  Not my vision of America.

I leaned over and said to Mutti:  “When I’m old,  I’ll be sure to always hide my arms and neck.”

“Ach Quatsch Felicia, it’s wonderful, ”  she laughed, “everyone feels young here.”

 

Isn’t this the best story? Felicia has invited me to visit next time I’m in New York.  Sort of like opening Pandora’s box, I’d say. But oh the fun!

Thanks for popping by to visit; see you next time!

Categories
Adult Fiction Clever Friends

Clever Heather reviews: The Divorce Girl by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

I’d like to preface this fabulous review by introducing Clever Reviewer Heather. She’s one of my local besties and a really awesome reviewer.  Check it out!

Stark, poignant, tumultuous – all words that describe The Divorce Girl by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. When I first glanced at the title I thought it represented a complete lack of creativity. But wait, before you cringe, I decided to give it a shot. After all, it is just a book. I can always shut it. I didn’t. I took it to the gym almost every morning, my only real downtime. The name is perfect. It sets the mood of this real to life story.

Many times throughout the pages I wondered if it was a real life story. We start in the young teenage life of a budding photographer, Deborah Shapiro, growing up in the unrest of a time when life wasn’t roses but everyone was searching for them. Her family in disarray, and ending in divorce, she resorts to seeing life through her camera lens. As a heartbreaking tale is spun, I find myself relating more with her mother than Deborah, the main character.

Deborah makes the choice to live with her father, choosing a life that leads to more heartache and pain than any kid should have to grow up in. She becomes a pawn in her father’s twisted game of life. Working a flea market, being along for the ride while immigration chases them, helping juvenile delinquents escape, she lives an excitingly dull life. Caught in lies of her father’s making, and feeling invisible to those around her, she sees no value in her life. This child woman is forced to run a house for her father, self-alienated from her mother. Her only outlet is photography class, and temple youth meetings, complete with a radical rabbi.

Finally, as we near the end of the book, she sees hope. She has a boyfriend who loves her. She has a plan to fast track her way to college – the chance to get out, to live her dreams, and take care of herself if her father signs his permission.

Will she ever see her mother loved her all along? Will she break free of the life her father has kept her prisoner to? Is her boyfriend really going to love her forever? Will she go to college or stay, stuck in her small town, an invisible person?

The last paragraph of the acknowledgements leaves you wondering just how much of this heart wrenching story is real.

I give this book 3 paws.

Unconventional Librarian 3 paws

 

So…whaddya think? Clever Heather is awesome, huh??? Here’s a little bit about Clever Heather:

In a normal week you can find Heather blogging about life at Real: The Kitchen and Beyond.

Growing up as the oldest of 7, and now being a wife and mother, homeschooling mama with a part time job and writing for two blogs, reading is her escape.

Her absolute favorite series of all time is Adventures in Narnia. About the only books she doesn’t devour are paranormal, sci fi, and self help books, although she has made exceptions in even those categories.

 

I love how Heather will make exceptions to her reading categories; isn’t that what the joy of reading is all about, finding something new??

So…go show Clever Heather some love on her food blog.  But DON’T lick the screen.  I’m just sayin…

Don’t forget to follow Heather on Twitter @heatherlm4 Tell her PammyPam sent ya!

Did I mention the author is the POET LAUREATE of Kansas?? How cool is that???

 

way.