Posted in Reviews

Review: If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur

If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur

Recommended: yup
For an intersectional story, for a well done blend of poetry and prose, for a fictional-but-way-too-real look at how sexual assault affects not only the person attacked but so many others around them

Summary

Kiran is a young Punjabi Sikh woman who becomes pregnant after being sexually assaulted by her fiancé’s brother. When her fiancé and family don’t believe her, she flees her home in India to Canada, where she plans to raise the child as a single mother. For Kiran, living undocumented means constant anxiety over finances, work, safety, and whether she’ll be deported back to the dangers that await her in Punjab. Eighteen years later, Kiran’s daughter, Sahaara, is desperate to help her mother, who has been arrested and is facing deportation. In the aftermath, Kiran reveals the truth about Sahaara’s conception. Horrified, Sahaara encourages Kiran to speak out against the man who raped her—who’s now a popular political figure in Punjab. Sahaara must find the best way to support her mother while also dealing with the revelation about her parents.

Thoughts:
I didn’t expect this to begin with Kiran as a kiddo, but that’s just what happened. What we get is a quite robust look at a life, from young Kiran to young adult Kiran to older Kiran as a mother. It switches to her daughter, Sahaara, as she grows up as well. I particularly loved the way Sahaara’s sections grew in stylistic complexity as she grew in age. In her early poetry entries, it’s simple rhyming couplets. It grows more complex, utilized different techniques and the abstract, and eventually turns to lengthier prose entries as well.

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Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Love in English, 2/2/21

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursdays, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! And although I haven’t posted a Fast Forward Friday actually on a Friday in a few weeks, I’m still excited enough to post these books because I cannot let them go unnoticed! Today’s is especially one I’ve been looking forward to for months, and it’s finally almost here: Love in English by Maria E Andreu!
Expected Release: February 2, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • I’m always in for stories of immigration and moving and characters who have to learn a new culture and/or figure out how to preserve their own. Ana moving from Argentina to New Jersey sounds like it will be ripe for those exact kinds of struggles. The kind where you learn a lot about yourself and the world (in a way that’s way less cheesy than I just made it sound).
  • Add in a focus on language and I’m even more in. Ana is a poet, and what poet isn’t a lover of language, with the attention to every facet that a poem requires? I’m really hoping we’ll see some beautiful portions of her poems in her native language, Spanish. And maybe that will blend with English, and maybe it won’t — either way, I’m happy to explore the world of words.
  • Ah, and of course, young love! I love love, y’all. Last night I had a dream about falling in love at first with my boyfriend all over again. I’m really into it. So when Ana gets to feel some feelings for a cute Greek boy, and a cute stereotypical-all-American boy, I’ll be riding right along with some popcorn. 🥰

Summary

Sixteen-year-old Ana has just moved to New Jersey from Argentina for her Junior year of high school. She’s a poet and a lover of language—except that now, she can barely understand what’s going on around her, let alone find the words to express how she feels in the language she’s expected to speak.

All Ana wants to do is go home—until she meets Harrison, the very cute, very American boy in her math class. And then there’s her new friend Neo, the Greek boy she’s partnered up with in ESL class, who she bonds with over the 80s teen movies they are assigned to watch for class (but later keep watching together for fun), and Altagracia, her artistic and Instagram-fabulous friend, who thankfully is fluent in Spanish and able to help her settle into American high school.

But is it possible that she’s becoming too American—as her father accuses—and what does it mean when her feelings for Harrison and Neo start to change? Ana will spend her year learning that the rules of English may be confounding, but there are no rules when it comes to love.

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim
Verdict: a slow character study kind of read, so if you’re into that style you’ll probably enjoy this

Recommended: sure
For a light mystery but mostly a self-reflective journey of discovery, for mouthwatering descriptions of tasty Korean dishes, for some very poignant moments of insight into one woman’s extremely difficult life

Summary:
Margot Lee’s mother, Mina, isn’t returning her calls. It’s a mystery to twenty-six-year-old Margot, until she visits her childhood apartment in Koreatown, LA, and finds that her mother has suspiciously died. The discovery sends Margot digging through the past, unraveling the tenuous invisible strings that held together her single mother’s life as a Korean War orphan and an undocumented immigrant, only to realize how little she truly knew about her mother. Interwoven with Margot’s present-day search is Mina’s story of her first year in Los Angeles as she navigates the promises and perils of the American myth of reinvention. While she’s barely earning a living by stocking shelves at a Korean grocery store, the last thing Mina ever expects is to fall in love. But that love story sets in motion a series of events that have consequences for years to come, leading up to the truth of what happened the night of her death.

Thoughts:
The story itself is a slower pace as you learn about Mina and Margot in their past and present. I loved the subtle intertwining of the two. The reflections of Mina’s past experiences in Margot’s present as she investigates her mother’s death linked them together in a beautiful way. The highlight here is the writing itself, as it’s very plain and unassuming yet conveys so much emotion.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: One Year of Ugly by Caroline Mackenzie

This is going to be one I recommend to basically everyone. 🥰

Recommended: yeeeeeeeesssssssss!!!!!!!!!!
for a lovable lot of characters, for a story that has a lot of elements to it, for a wide variety of situations

Summary:
After fleeing crumbling, volatile Venezuela, Yola Palacio wants nothing more than to settle into a peaceful new life in Trinidad with her family. And who cares if they’re there illegally—aren’t most of the people on the island? But life for the Palacios is far from quiet—and when Yola’s Aunt Celia dies, the family once again find their lives turned upside down. For Celia had been keeping a very big secret—she owed a LOT of money to a local criminal called Ugly. And without the funds to pay him off, Ugly has the entire family do his bidding until Celia’s debt is settled. What Ugly says, the Palacios do, otherwise the circumstances are too dreadful to imagine.

To say that the year that follows is tumultuous for the Palacios is an understatement. But in the midst of the turmoil appears Roman—Ugly’s distractingly gorgeous right-hand man. And although she knows it’s terrible and quite possibly dangerous, Yola just can’t help but give in to the attraction. Where, though, do Roman’s loyalties lie? And could this wildly inappropriate romance just be the antidote to a terrible year of Ugly?

Thoughts:
I saw this book’s synopsis and thought I would probably love it, and yup, I was right. 😍

What I loved
The setting in Trinidad was an quick obvious draw for me, because I don’t know much of anything about it. Well, now I do! Like the fact that there’s the largest natural tar deposit in the world there, and also that they have notoriously poorly paved roads because they export all their tar. 😂 The little tour around the island on Yola and Roman’s excursions were a perfect way to introduce readers to the area.

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Posted in Book Talk

Spine poetry – life of a refugee

I’ve seen this wonderful idea on instagram, that I don’t have enough physical books to participate in myself anymore. The idea is to take a look through your books and create a poem from the titles you have. I LOVE that, but alas, moving so often means I’ve had to cut down my physical collection.

But I’m adaptable! So instead, I’ve pored through some of the book I have listed on Goodreads to create a poem. It actually ended up holding a good deal of meaning for me, so here’s what I got on my first attempt!

They called us enemy
Run away
New kid
This is my America
A love hate thing


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