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
Goodreads

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
Goodreads

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: A Cup of Water Under My Bed

Book Review: A Cup of Water Under My BedA Cup of Water Under My Bed: A Memoir
by Daisy Hernandez
on September 9th 2014
Pages: 185
Published by Beacon Press
Genres: LGBTQ, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Short Stories
Goodreads

A coming-of-age memoir by a Colombian-Cuban woman about shaping lessons from home into a new, queer life  In this lyrical, coming-of-age memoir, Daisy Hernández chronicles what the women in her Cuban-Colombian family taught her about love, money, and race. Her mother warns her about envidia and men who seduce you with pastries, while one tía bemoans that her niece is turning out to be “una india” instead of an American. Another auntie instructs that when two people are close, they are bound to become like uña y mugre, fingernails and dirt, and that no, Daisy’s father is not godless. He’s simply praying to a candy dish that can be traced back to Africa. 

These lessons—rooted in women’s experiences of migration, colonization, y cariño—define in evocative detail what it means to grow up female in an immigrant home. In one story, Daisy sets out to defy the dictates of race and class that preoccupy her mother and tías, but dating women and transmen, and coming to identify as bisexual, leads her to unexpected questions. In another piece, NAFTA shuts local factories in her hometown on the outskirts of New York City, and she begins translating unemployment forms for her parents, moving between English and Spanish, as well as private and collective fears. In prose that is both memoir and commentary, Daisy reflects on reporting for the New York Times as the paper is rocked by the biggest plagiarism scandal in its history and plunged into debates about the role of race in the newsroom.

A heartfelt exploration of family, identity, and language, A Cup of Water Under My Bed is ultimately a daughter’s story of finding herself and her community, and of creating a new, queer life.

My Takeaway “Generally speaking, gay people come out of the closet, straight people walk around the closet, and bisexuals have to be told to look for the closet. We are too preoccupied with shifting.” Daisy Hernández, A Cup of Water Under My Bed A Cup of Water Under My…

Book Review: The 57 Bus

Book Review: The 57 BusThe 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives
by Dashka Slater
on October 17th 2017
Pages: 320
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux
Genres: LGBTQ, Non-Fiction, Young Adult
Goodreads

One teenager in a skirt. One teenager with a lighter. One moment that changes both of their lives forever.

If it weren't for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight.

My Takeaway “Never let your obstacles become more important than your goal.” Dashka Slater, The 57 Bus Sasha, a white agender (identifies as neither male nor female) was a high school student riding the 57 Bus, when Richard, a black teen from a different school, set Sasha’s skirt…

Book Review: Radical Hope

Book Review: Radical HopeRadical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times
by Carolina De Robertis, Junot Díaz, Faith Adiele, Parnaz Foroutan, Chip Livingston, Mohja Kahf, Achy Obejas, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Cherrie Moraga, Kate Schatz, Boris Fishman, Karen Joy Fowler, Elmaz Abinader, Aya de León, Jane Smiley, Luis Alberto Urrea, Mona Eltahawy, Jeff Chang, Claire Messud, Meredith Russo, Reyna Grande, Katie Kitamura, iO Tillett Wright, Francisco Goldman, Celeste Ng, Peter Orner, Cristina García, Aliciz Garza, Roxana Robinson, Lisa See, Jewelle Gomez, Hari Kunzru
on January 1st 1970
Pages: 272
Published by Vintage
Genres: Non-Fiction, Short Stories
Goodreads

Radical Hope is a collection of letters--to ancestors, to children five generations from now, to strangers in grocery lines, to any and all who feel weary and discouraged--written by award-winning novelists, poets, political thinkers, and activists. Provocative and inspiring, Radical Hope offers readers a kaleidoscopic view of the love and courage needed to navigate this time of upheaval, uncertainty, and fear, in view of the recent US presidential election.

My Takeaway  “But language is malleable, and it is not always on the side of truth. This is something every writer knows. Words make and unmake the world with terrifying rapidity, and they do so without moral distinction…There is a battle going on right now over the words we…