Book Review: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Book Review: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African ChildhoodBorn a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
by Trevor Noah
on November 15th 2016
Pages: 304
Published by Doubleday Canada
Genres: Memoir, Multicultural, Non-Fiction, Short Stories

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime New York Times bestseller about one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

My Takeaway “My mom did what school didn’t. She taught me how to think.” Trevor Noah, Born a Crime This phenomenal and fascinating memoir gets all the stars and all the love! Noah’s candid and humorous storytelling completely captivated me from beginning to end. Noah grew…

Book Review: We Should All Be Feminists

Book Review: We Should All Be FeministsWe Should All Be Feminists
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
on February 3rd 2015
Pages: 52
Published by Anchor
Genres: Multicultural, Non-Fiction

In this personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah, offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

My Takeaway “A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. And this is how to start: We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists “Teach your daughters to worry less about fitting…

Book Review: An American Marriage

Book Review: An American MarriageAn American Marriage
by Tayari Jones
on February 6th 2018
Pages: 320
Published by Algonquin Books
Genres: Literary Fiction, Multicultural

Named an Oprah’s Book Club Selection.

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

My Takeaway “Human emotion is beyond comprehension, smooth and uninterrupted, like an orb made of blown glass.” Tayari Jones, An American Marriage An American Marriage is worthy and amazing! Jones is a poetic, phenomenal, and captivating writer (the hype is real mi gente). Caution: the novel will weave…

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Euridice GusmaoThe Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao
by Martha Batalha, Eric M B Becker
on October 10th 2017
Pages: 240
Published by ONEWorld Publications
Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Multicultural

Euridice is young, beautiful and ambitious, but when her rebellious sister Guida elopes, she sets her own aspirations aside and vows to settle down as a model wife and daughter. And yet as her husband's professional success grows, so does Euridice's feeling of restlessness. She embarks on a series of secret projects - from creating recipe books to becoming the most sought-after seamstress in town - but each is doomed to failure. Her tradition-loving husband is not interested in an independent wife. And then one day Guida appears at the door with her young son and a terrible story of hardship and abandonment. The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao is a wildly inventive, wickedly funny and keenly observed tale of two sisters who, surrounded by a cast of unforgettable characters, assert their independence and courageously carve a path of their own in 1940s Rio de Janeiro. A deeply human and truly unforgettable novel from one of the most exciting new voices in world literature.

My Takeaway “When Euridice set her mind to something, the rest of the world became smoke.” The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao, Martha Batalha, (Translated by Eric M.B. Becker) The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao is a humorous and quirky novel. What originally caught my attention was…

Book Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing

Book Review: Sing, Unburied, SingSing, Unburied, Sing
by Jesmyn Ward
on September 5th 2017
Pages: 285
Published by Scribner
Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Multicultural

A searing and profound Southern odyssey by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward.

Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she's high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie's children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.

Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward's distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature.

My Takeaway “Sorrow is food swallowed too quickly, caught in the throat, making it nearly impossible to breathe.” Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing Though I finished this book days ago, I have taken my time writing this review because I want to do it justice. Sing, Unburied, Sing is unlike…