I had never heard of the Synanon cult before the book Synanon Kid came to my attention; but c’mon, we are all intrigued by such stories, right?
Well, this memoir of CA Wittman’s time in Synanon doesn’t disappoint.
The author, CA Wittman.
Kidnapped in the night by two women, one of whom was her own mother, Celena spent five formative childhood years in the Synanon cult in California. While this is a story of Synanon, it is also a personal one, of isolation, relationships, and love.
I appreciated Wittman’s creative narratives of her memories including her complicated relationship with her mother and times of deep fear and loneliness within the cult. Growing up in Synanon imparted on Wittman unrealistic, unstable, and untrusting views of the world, and understandably so.
I could relate to Celena’s creation of a robust fantasy life to cope with a confusing, and often violent, reality as a young girl. As she grew older, she learned to talk fast and loud in order to avoid being taken advantage of by others. But she also turned to books, which gave her solace in the knowledge that others dealt with similar oppression and longing in their own lives.
Wittman is a talented writer of memoir; you get about as close to Synanon as you can without being there (and we really wouldn’t want to be there, right?). The reader can almost feel her hunger, fear, confusion, anger, and disappointment.
At only 274 pages, this is a quick and engaging read. If you are interested in memoirs, creative nonfiction, stories about cults, or books by women of color, you will probably enjoy Synanon Kid.
Title: Synanon Kid: A Memoir of Growing Up in the Synanon Cult
Author: C.A. Wittman
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: July 20, 2017 My Rating: Recommended
I won this ebook on GoodReads and decided to review it. Thanks, GoodReads! This post contains affiliate links; support independent booksellers!
Here’s a roundup of the new books by women being released in June that I am most excited about, with a focus on womxn and gender non-conforming people from historically underrepresented and underserved communities.
If you are curious about which books I focus on, see my Review Policy. These are just guidelines and I reserve the right to include (or not!) any books I see fit.
I’ll probably add to this list as I learn of others; if you have a suggestion, please place it in the comments below!
“Both candid and compelling, Rickardsson’s story is not only about a woman seeking to heal the fractures inherent in a transnational identity; it is also a moving meditation on poverty, injustice, and the meaning of family. A thought-provoking and humane memoir of survival and self-discovery.”–Kirkus Reviews
“A haunting story of balancing identities, Rickardsson’s debut is an unforgettable meditation on the weight of early childhood trauma and recovery.”–Booklist
“We are in a fight for our lives. Hurricanes Irma and María unmasked the colonialism we face in Puerto Rico, and the inequality it fosters, creating a fierce humanitarian crisis. Now we must find a path forward to equality and sustainability, a path driven by communities, not investors. And this book explains, with careful and unbiased reporting, only the efforts of our community activists can answer the paramount question: What type of society do we want to become and who is Puerto Rico for?”–Carmen Yulín Cruz, Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico
“Naomi Klein concisely reveals to us what Puerto Rico has faced, shock after shock, before Hurricane Maria and after it and also the voices of people who believe and build a future for Puerto Rico from the strength of their communities.”–Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, feminist, human rights activist, former president of the Puerto Rico Bar Association
“An exciting read with a wonderful Latinx feel woven throughout.”–Kirkus
“The book is at its best examining the relationship between Lula and her sisters as brujas, but also as teens, who have the same yearnings and petty arguments as any girls. For readers coming for the ghouls, there are plenty of those, too.”–Booklist
“Feminist Freedom Warriors is a provocation and an inspiration. The political and intellectual life stories of an amazing cohort of radical feminist takes us through five decades of dynamic history and spans the globe.Their stories, ideas, fortitude and courage provide a powerful guide to the freedom-making work of the mid 20th through the early 21st centuries. The book is yet another gift of insight and critical feminist praxis from Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Linda Carty, sister-scholars and collaborators whose own collective passion and commitments are also in every page of this collection.”–Barbara Ransby, author, historian, activist
“[A] moving page-turner. Suspense, emotions, and magic course throughout this beautifully narrated book. Highly recommended for fans of Latin American literature and general literary mysteries.”–Library Journal (starred review)
“The subject of this profound and intricate novel is the irreducible mystery at the core of every person, the buried lines of history and desire that render us inscrutable even to ourselves. Carla Guelfenbein is an important and powerful writer, and this translation is a gift to English-language readers.”–Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
“Hoang knocks it out of the park with this stellar debut about an autistic woman who takes a methodical approach to learning about sex and accidentally gets a lesson in love…Hoang gives [Stella] tremendous depth as a character, never reducing her to a walking diagnosis. The diverse cast and exceptional writing take this romance to the next level, and readers who see themselves in Stella will be ecstatic.”–Publisher’s Weekly (starred)
“An unexpectedly sweet romance that left me with a huge smile on my face. I dare you not to fall in love with these two characters and their story. Helen Hoang’s debut is quite simply delightful!”–Nalini Singh, New York Times bestselling author
“Donna Hylton’s painful yet liberating memoir will certainly be transformative for many who read her words. As a survivor of sexual abuse and violence–inside and outside prison–she tells the whole truth of her experience, including her deep regret for the moments that she’s harmed others and her passionate commitment to co-creating a justice system that acknowledges the little piece of light that shines within us no matter who we are, what we’ve done, or what has been done to us.”–Michelle Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of The New Jim Crow
“Intimate and disturbing, the book reveals the ways women are silenced and victimized in society, and it also tells the inspiring story of how one woman survived a prison nightmare to go on to help other incarcerated women ‘speak out about the violence in their lives.’ A wrenching memoir of overcoming seemingly insurmountable abuse and finding fulfillment.”–Kirkus Reviews
“Reading Hodson’s work feels risky; it’s breathtaking, both in its inherent exhilaration and also, often, because it’s funny. . .But it also makes you feel connected to things, as if you are forging new relationships to the things and people in the world around you, uncovering new understandings about permanence, about intuition, about love and sex and lies and secrets and truth, about life.”–Kristin Iversen, NYLON
“Her essays are a specialized artform where poetry meets philosophy. They reflect on the gruesome side of being a woman in the excellent tradition of Joan Didion and Sylvia Plath. I highly recommend Chelsea Hodson’s book to all readers.”–Atticus Lish, author of Preparation for the Next Life
“The sequel to the viral sensation My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness!
Struggling with the idea of living alone and adjusting to the effects of her previous book’s success, this follow-up to the award-winning autobiographical comic continues the author’s quest for self-acceptance and love.”–Amazon
“A powerful, unconventionally structured memoir recounting harrowing coming-of-age ordeals . . . Daley-Ward resists classification in this profound mix of poetry and prose. . . . [She] has quite a ferociously moving story to tell.”–Kirkus (starred)
“Yrsa Daley-Ward is laying her pain bare and turning it into uplifting, unconventional poetry. . . . If readers thought she bared her soul through bone, her memoir The Terrible will be another lesson in how to fearlessly turn the pain of her past into uplifting prose.” —PopSugar
“If you’ve been trying to make sense of how gender today seems to have slipped the chains that bind it to our bodies in familiar ways, Unbound is a book for you. It’s a sympathetic account by non-transgender sociologist Arlene Stein, aimed at a primarily non-transgender audience, of four people assigned female at birth who surgically masculinize their chests. Stein helps her readers understand that they, too, no longer need be bound by conventional expectations of the meaning of our flesh.” –Susan Stryker, founding co-editor, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly
“Stein tracks the rapid evolution of gender identity in this provocative group portrait of trans men . . . Her book succeeds in documenting what it means to be trans today.”–Publisher’s Weekly
“In Fugitive Life, fugitive women of color emerge as feminist thinkers who expose the inherent carcerality of neoliberalism. This groundbreaking intervention in carceral studies, gender studies, American studies, and literary studies offers deep interrogations of queerness and temporality and an extraordinary model for analyzing the dialectics of freedom and repression. Stephen Dillon provides a dramatic contribution that will reshape urgent debates regarding carceral crisis, influencing future scholarship and activism.”–Sarah Haley, author of No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity
An Indie Next Pick
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by Elle
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by Electric Literature
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by April Magazine
“Murata’s strange and quirky novel was a runaway hit in Japan, and Ginny Tapley Takemori’s English translation introduces it to a new group of readers―a slim, entrancing read that can be consumed in one sitting.”–Passport
“Extraordinary in its depth and diligence… Mirza adeptly revisits painful dilemmas from each narrator’s perspective, revealing jolting secrets. Each complex, surprising character struggles with faith, responsibility, racism, fear, longing, and jealousy, while Mirza conveys with graceful specificity the rhythms of Muslim life, from prayer to wearing hijab, gender etiquette, food, holidays, and values, all of which illuminate universal quandaries about family, self, culture, beliefs, and generational change.”–Booklist
“A California-based Indian Muslim family celebrates the wedding of daughter Hadia, marrying for love. Present is her estranged brother Amar, who hasn’t easily mnaged the rough road between youth and adulthood, Old World tradition and America, and the novel effectively unfolds family tensions and Amar’s swirling personal anguish.”–Library Journal
“A buzzing, smoky, gin-soaked charmer.”–Library Journal, ALA Hot Picks
“When we first meet Vera Kelly, she’s a troubled 1950s teenager who’s overdosed on Equanil. Next she’s in explosive 1960s Buenos Aires after being recruited by the CIA (“I could be charming if I wanted to. There were basic tricks”). Her past and present are told in alternating chapters, with all the edgy fun of classic noir but in an original voice that’s fresh, brisk, and snappy. Hugely buzzing.”–Library Journal, Most Anticipated Books of Spring/Summer
“A leading writer of Zimbabwe’s ‘born-free’ generation reflects on the November 2017 ousting of Robert Mugabe, radically reframing the history of Zimbabwe to include the perspectives of workers, women and urban movements.”–Description
“Chigumadzi successfully nests the intimate charge of her poignant personal story in the sweeping historical account and mythology of Zimbabwe.”–Brian Chikwava, author of Harare North
“Chigumadzi’s exploration of personal, family and national history reincarnates in stark, vivid images, many of those interred in the shadows of her country’s ‘Big Men’.”–Tsitsi Dangarembga, author of Nervous Conditions
“With the familiar strangeness of a fairy tale, Ohara’s novel traverses the mysterious distance between body and mind, between the mechanics of life and the ghost in the machine, between the infinitesimal and infinity. The child as mother, the mother as monster, the monster as hero: this shape-shifting story of nourishment, nurture, and parturition is a rare feminist work of speculative fiction and received the prestigious Seiun (Nebula) Award in 1991. Hybrid Childis the first English translation of a major work of science fiction by a female Japanese author.”–publisher description
I just finished this book and wow. My review will be coming soon!
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by The Millions and Cosmopolitan
“[Number One Chinese Restaurant] is a lot of things . . . a multigenerational immigration story, an insider look at the often grueling life of the career server or line cook, a romance, a coming-of-age (at any age). Most significantly, it is a joy to read―I couldn’t get enough.”–Buzzfeed, “30 Summer Books to Get Excited About”
“Li vividly depicts the lives of her characters and gives the narrative a few satisfying turns, resulting in a memorable debut.” —Publishers Weekly
A Library Journal Editors’ Spring Pick: 1 of 34 Titles to Wave a Flag About
“Old in Art School is a glorious achievement―bighearted and critical, insightful and entertaining. This book is a cup of courage for everyone who wants to change their lives. This is not a story about starting over; it’s about continuing on the journey. Nell Painter has taken the coming of age story to a new level―this is what you get when a wise person gets even wiser, when a true artist spreads her wings.”–Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage
“This is a courageous, intellectually stimulating, and wholly entertaining story of one woman reconciling two worlds and being open to the possibilities and changes life offers.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[A] winning collection of essays…offers perspective and clarity on issues that, time and again, are stumbling blocks to trans acceptance and celebration of human gender diversity.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The book to give your cis friends.”–Stephanie Burt
“The Iraqi American pediatrician who helped expose the Flint water crisis lays bare the bureaucratic bunk and flat-out injustice at the heart of the environmental disgrace—revealing, with the gripping intrigue of a Grisham thriller, ‘the story of a government poisoning its own citizens, and then lying about it.’”–O: The Oprah Magazine
“Flint is a public health disaster. But it was Dr. Mona, this caring, tough pediatrician turned detective, who cracked the case.”–Rachel Maddow
“Katie and Cassidy are a joy to behold: two whip-smart women grappling with desire and questioning their deeply held notions of love and intimacy. Perri’s book is a real gift—tender, sexy as hell and laugh out loud funny.”–Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of The Nest
“Fun and fulfilling…[with] honest conversations about female identity and sexuality included throughout. A romance with a big heart and refreshing perspective.”–Kirkus Reviews
“The graffiti grrlz featured here know how to throw up fresh ways of re-imagining feminism, urban belonging, and world-making practices. Through bright ethnographic accounts of graffiti’s gendered politics and global reach, Pabón-Colón takes down assumed notions of hip-hop culture by passing the mic to a new generation of feminist graffiti artists engaged in writing and speaking on their own terms.”–Juana María Rodríguez, Author of Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings
“Vibrant, complex, and totally engaging, Graffiti Grrlz recovers women’s presence in graffiti subcultures around the globe. In this ambitious and passionate book, Jessica Pabón-Colón amplifies the resistant and creative practices of women graffiti artists and masterfully highlights their important contributions to contemporary feminism. In doing so, she transforms and expands our ideas about the meaning of graffiti and of feminist political action.”–Jessica Taft, Author of Rebel Girls: Youth Activism and Social Change Across the Americas
“Everything I want in an essay collection: provocative lines of inquiry, macabre humor, blistering intelligence. I love this book. I want to take it into the middle of a crowded room and hold it up and scream until someone tackles me the ground; even then, I’d probably keep screaming.”–Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties
“Bracing and blazingly smart, Alice Bolin’s Dead Girls could hardly be more needed or more timely. A critical contribution to the cultural discussion of gender and genre, Los Angeles and noir, the unbearable persistence of the male gaze and the furtive potency of female rage.”–Megan Abbott, Edgar Award-winning author of You Will Know Me
“Vital to understanding American life today.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Profound, a sweeping, blistering portrait of hard-working people from all walks of life. It’s a rousing wakeup call that also points the way forward to a more equitable, expansive future.”–Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age
“A collection of Asian myths and legends in which beloved stories of spirits, magic, family, love, and heartbreak are combined with elements from modern teens’ lives….With such a variety of emotion and experiences to explore, nearly any teen can find something to relate to…An incredible anthology that will keep readers on the edges of their seats, wanting more.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“All of these stories achieve emotional depth and connection while showcasing each storyteller’s unique literary voice.”–The Horn Book
“As a woman of color, I find hope in this book because of its potential to disrupt the patterns and relationships that have emerged out of long-standing colonial principles and beliefs. White Fragility is an essential tool toward authentic dialogue and action. May it be so!”–Shakti Butler, president of World Trust and director of Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible
“A rare and incisive examination of the system of white body supremacy that binds us all as Americans. . . . With authenticity and clarity, she provides the antidote to white fragility and a road map for developing white racial stamina and humility. White Fragility loosens the bonds of white supremacy and binds us back together as human beings.”–Resmaa Menakem, author of My Grandmother’s Hands
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I feel as bibliophiles, we are touched by books, especially those handful of favorites. Our understanding of them, ourselves, and others evolves each time we read them – and we read them many, many times over.
I think I had my first romance of this type with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I mean, I had many favorite childhood books such as A Wrinkle in Time, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and (like every other young, eager-to-be-grown-up white girl?) all the Judy Blume books, but this one was different. Perhaps it was because it was the first time I really understood Shakespeare. Or maybe it was spritish Puck. I don’t know but for some reason, I just loved it.
But my longest and most in-depth book relationship is probably with On the Road. There is something about the way Jack Kerouac turned a phrase that perfectly captures my own desire for freedom and getting lost and finding my own way in the midst of an anxious and overactive mind. I can’t imagine how many times I’ve read it and will read it again.
I’ve never met another person whose heart melts for The Grapes of Wrath as mine does. Damn, I love those Joads. Jane Eyre and The Color Purple and The Awakening and Native Son…I have ongoing relationships with these stories and each time I revisit them, I pick up something new. I see a glimmer of some layer that I had previously missed. Perhaps it’s some small detail or the way a previously ordinary passage stands out to me when I read it again years later.
But books certainly don’t have to be canonical “classics” to steal your heart. And just because one pulls at my heartstrings doesn’t mean it automatically will for you. In my adulthood, I sat down with Life is So Good by George Dawson and fell head over heels. I am full of gratitude every time I read it.
This is what I love about reading. I can get lost in almost any book with a rise and fall, a couple of complicated characters, and a setting I can envision. Simple, right?
But with really good books, I mean books that I really fall in love with, I don’t only want an escape. I want it to have meaning in my real life. I want to be there with it, with all it offers. I will stick with it through good and bad. I will visit and revisit it. I will read specific passages over and over and ruminate on them from different perspectives. I keep it for years…on my writing table for inspiration, next to the bed to annotate the margins when the feeling strikes, or even on the highest shelf of my wall of books because I know I will never part with it.
That’s the power of a really great fucking book. It endures. I give and it gives back. Over and over again.
Simply put: I adore this book. It is a slim, adorable volume of only 142 pages which includes a kick-ass bibliography but by goddess, it packs a punch. It has all the facets I look for in a lasting book relationship and then some; I’ve already read it three times. And yes, it keeps on giving.
The book is genre-defying in that it is part history lesson, part memoir, part biography, part book review, part manifesta, and all homage to Bechdel. How Hudson included such variety in this one little book is a testament to her writing skills and is just, well, interesting as hell. Her examination of Bechdel and Fun Home is imbued with a curiosity and understanding that is enlightening and refreshing. While I have read Fun Home and really enjoyed it, it’s been a little while and sometime I’d like to read it again and then re-read A Little in Love with Everyone ; just to see Fun Home through Hudson’s eyes.
As a memoirist, Bechdel’s job is to tell the truth about herself, and her father’s suicide and sexuality are intrinsically bound up in her own story. To read Fun Home is to see Bechdel wrestle with the question of truth – how well her father hid his, and what it means for her to tell her own (pp. 17-18).
As I mentioned above, Hudson is just a good writer. Her instincts are magical. She gives you glimpses into her life growing up questioning and exploring her sexuality and then eventually, her coming out as a lesbian. While using Fun Home and Bechdel’s life as a backdrop, Hudson examines not only her own life experiences but also topics such as embodiment, gender, truth, visibility, self-acceptance, and more. Her vulnerability spoke to me and I appreciated her risk-taking throughout the book.
I wanted to make out with S by accident. I wanted us to end up kissing without anyone having to consciously make the decision to kiss or be held accountable for it. I wanted the kissing to just start happening (p. 3).
Clearly, any book that waxes poetic on the power of reading and storysharing to change lives automatically scores points with me. But Hudson does this really well, just sort of dropping bell hooks and Dorothy Allison and Maggie Nelson throughout. She also points to bookish details in Bechdel’s cartoons, such as specific book covers being drawn in panels where Bechdel is having sex or hearing life-changing news. The influence of amazing literature by womxn on Bechdel and on Hudson and their writing is gratifying and exhilarating.
In the corner of one panel, Bechdel has drawn the book Sappho Was a Right-On Woman, filling in the small queer details that had begun to infuse her life (p. 21).
Of course, the reader will understand her admiration of Fun Home and Bechdel more generally, but Hudson also explains her appreciation for reading lists provided by other authors. What I love is that in doing so, Hudson herself leaves us with her own illuminating reading list (the titles of which I quickly added to my own TBR list).
As bibliophiles (and the author clearly is), we get the importance of reading but Hudson teeters on the edge of full-fledged librarianhood when she discusses the importance of telling, sharing, and archiving our own stories. BIPOC, queer people, disabled people, women, and people of other underrepresented populations must tell their own stories.
Representation matters. Voice matters. And having heroes in whom you can see yourself is imperative.
There was no one to talk to about what I was going through. The only thing that seemed to know anything was books. In books, everything seemed to have happened to everybody already. There was peace in that, a kind of solidarity. Literature holds power (p. 125).
I love this about Hudson’s book. Clearly in Bechdel’s work, Hudson found stories in which she could see herself, in which she received validation and clarification, and in which she witnessed hope and celebration.
Are we, as queers, necessarily educators? Are we called to tell our truth by virtue of our identities? Are our bodies radical, our identities political, our work archive-able? Are we heroes just by existing?
I think the answer is yes (p. 105).
Hudson has paid it forward with A Little in Love with Everyone and she will undoubtedly inspire and comfort others as Bechdel did for her.
Title: A Little in Love with Everyone
Author: Genevieve Hudson
Publisher: Fiction Advocate
Publication Date: February 20, 2018 My Rating: Essential
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Genevieve Hudson and Fiction Advocate!
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We’ve been working so hard on home renovations that it is nice to have a bit of a break today. I’ve been super busy at work as well but am still carving out time to do some reading. Here are some of the highlights:
I just started and ARC of Hybrid Child by Mariko Ohara which, while it is a classic of Japanese speculative fiction, it is only in its first translation here in the US. It’s actually the first English translation of a major work of scifi by a Japanese woman author, period, so wow, that’s awesome. Always have to wonder what took so long but it’s here now, at least. And so far, I would recommend you get your mitts on this book! It is strange and mysterious and fascinating so far. I may take this Mother’s Day and read it all!
I just finished listening to Beauty Queens by Libba Bray and sorry but I didn’t love it. At all. I posted a little review on GoodReads. I just started listening to This Book is Overdue! by Marilyn Johnson and it’s not too great either actually… I mean, it would be more interesting to someone who didn’t know anything about librarianship I think but it’s also just dated. I am striking out with aduibooks lately… any suggestions? I also recently finished Monsoon Mansion and am working on reviews for A Little in Love with Everyone by Genevieve Hudson and The Book of M by Peng Shepherd, so be watching for those.
There have been a lot of great articles I’ve been reading lately, it’s hard to share them all! I recently created a Resource Guide to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (#MMIW) and so read a lot of those articles as I included them. I just couldn’t find a great bibliography or guide out there, so I figured the least I could do was to create one. So please share it and also let me know what’s missing from it; I plan to continue adding to it.
Here’s a roundup of the new books being released in May that I am most excited about, by and/or about women of color, LBTQ+ women, women with disabilities, gender non-conforming people, feminists, and womxn from other historically underrepresented and underserved communities.
If you are curious about which books I focus on, see my Review Policy. These are just guidelines and I reserve the right to include (or not!) any books I see fit.
I’ll probably add to this list as I learn of others; if you have a suggestion, please place it in the comments below!
Awu’s Story by Justine Mintsa and Cheryl Toman (Translator)
“At the dawn of the twenty-first century, villages in the Fang region of northern Gabon must grapple with the clash of tradition and the evolution of customs throughout modern Africa. With this tension in the background, the passionate, deft, and creative seamstress Awu marries Obame, after he and his beloved wife, Bella, have been unable to conceive. Because all three are reluctant participants in this arrangement, theirs is an emotionally fraught existence. Through heartbreaking and disastrous events, Awu grapples with long-standing Fang customs that counter her desire to take full control of her life and home.
Supplemented with a foreword and critical introduction highlighting Justine Mintsa’s importance in African literature, Awu’s Story is an essential work of African women’s writing and the only published work to meditate this deeply on some of the Fang’s most cherished legends and oral history.”–Amazon
“Megan Condis addresses the most important and contentious controversies in gaming culture at present. Her writing argues strongly against the groups who have tried to undermine the diversity arising in games and provides a passionate insight into these events, linking them with wider cultural shifts in Western society.”–Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Staffordshire University
“Fierce, fun, and fascinating. Condis writes with a journalist’s ear and an academic’s eye, getting to the core of what drives men’s behavior online, in games, and throughout digital culture.” –Derek A. Burrill, author, Die Tryin’: Videogames, Masculinity, Culture
“The world has changed. Scientists warned it would happen.
Meteors devastated the Earth. World Governments developed plans to help surviving citizens. The United States disbanded and salvageable land was divided into four quadrants—North, South, East, and West—governed by The Remnant Council.
Struggling to survive, seventeen-year-old Ava ends up in juvenile detention, until she is selected for a new life—with a catch. She must be injected with an experimental serum. The results will be life changing. The serum will make her better. To receive the serum Ava agrees to join a program controlled by ISAN, the International Sensory Assassin Network.”–description
“From Michelle Knight-Cleveland kidnapping survivor and #1 NYT bestselling author of Finding Me-comes an inspirational book about healing and resilience, on the five-year anniversary of her escape.”–Amazon
“The story of an incredibly brave and resilient young woman and of a spirit that refused to be crushed, even through the worst time.”–The Daily Mail
“I have never felt as seen, understood, or spoken to as I did when I read Little Fish. Never before in my life. Casey remains one of THE authors to read if you want to understand the interior lives of trans women in this century.”–Meredith Russo, author of If I Was Your Girl
“There is a dark place most novels don’t touch. If you’ve ever been there, maybe you know how exhilarating it can be to read a book like this, a book that captures the darkness so honestly, so accurately, that you can finally begin to let it go. Fearless and messy and oozing with love, Little Fish is a devastating book that I don’t ever want to be without.”–Zoey Leigh Peterson, author of Next Year, For Sure
“Nour’s family constantly endures hardship. . . but her young, honest voice adds a softer, coming-of-age perspective to this story of loss, hope, and survival. . . This imaginative yet very real look into war-torn Syria is a must.”–Booklist, starred review
“Debut novelist Joukhadar gracefully balances the gritty, often horrific truth of the refugee’s plight with the lyrical near-fairy tale she has created….A wise, vibrantly told story for a wide range of readers, particularly relevant now.”–Library Journal
“In smart, determined, and vigilant Romy, Kushner, an acclaimed writer of exhilarating skills, has created a seductive narrator of tigerish intensity… This is a gorgeously eviscerating novel of incarceration writ large…Rooted in deeply inquisitive thinking and executed with artistry and edgy wit, Kushner’s dramatic and disquieting novel investigates with verve and compassion societal strictures and how very difficult it is to understand each other and to be truly free.”–Booklist, Starred Review
“A searing look at life on the margins…This is, fundamentally, a novel about poverty and how our structures of power do not work for the poor, and Kushner does not flinch…gripping.”–Kirkus Reviews
“In this incandescent debut memoir, Cinelle Barnes forges memories of her family’s downfall with tumultuous Filipino history. Like the storm in its title, Monsoon Mansion immerses us in the darkest waters of memory, stirring up unbearably brutal childhood events with lyrical prose and searing imagery, forming a woven tale that is both delicate and electric. This book assures us that even when we lose those things that give shape to our humanity—our roots, culture, and family—we can go on to devise a new way of being.”–Susan Tekulve, author of In the Garden of Stone
I just finished this book and if you like creative non-fiction and memoirs, you would enjoy this one. More complete review coming soon!
“This inquiry into the modern woman’s moral, social and psychological relationship to procreation is an illumination, a provocation, and a response―finally―to the new norms of femininity, formulated from the deepest reaches of female intellectual authority. It is unlike anything else I’ve read. Sheila Heti has broken new ground, both in her maturity as an artist and in the possibilities of the female discourse itself.”–Rachel Cusk, author of Outline and Transit
Edited and with an introduction by Roxane Gay, the New York Times bestselling and deeply beloved author of Bad Feminist and Hunger, this anthology of first-person essays tackles rape, assault, and harassment head-on.–Amazon
Vogue, “10 of the Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2018” * Harper’s Bazaar, “10 New Books to Add to Your Reading List in 2018” * Elle, “21 Books We’re Most Excited to Read in 2018” * Boston Globe, “25 books we can’t wait to read in 2018” *Huffington Post, “60 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018” * Hello Giggles, “19 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018” * Buzzfeed, “33 Most Exciting New Books of 2018”
“From New York Times bestselling author and former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Stanford University professor Amy B. Zegart comes an examination of the rapidly evolving state of political risk, and how to navigate it.”–Amazon
“Clearly written and timely, this book will interest not only current and future business executives but also would-be-whistle-blowers and corporate watchdogs.”–Publishers Weekly
“Debut novelist Kuang creates an ambitious fantasy reimagining of Asian history populated by martial artists, philosopher-generals, and gods […] This is a strong and dramatic launch to Kuang’s career.”–Publishers Weekly
“I have no doubt this will end up being the best fantasy debut of the year […] I have absolutely no doubt that [Kuang’s] name will be up there with the likes of Robin Hobb and N.K. Jemisin.” — Booknest
“A fiercely loving and tender tribute to Marcia Gay Harden’s mother, remembering for her and for us what Alzheimer’s has stolen, filling those darkened holes with compassion, acceptance, beauty, and love. I savored every page and didn’t want it to end.–Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice and Every Note Played
“Poignant, beautiful . . . . Replete with emotionally resonant scenes, humor, and tales of Harden’s own journey as an actor, The Seasons of My Mother is both inspirational and devastating, a touching tribute to a remarkable woman.”–Booklist
Book description: Strut, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie’s second book of poetry (her first was Karma’s Footsteps), emerges from an intense engagement with contemporary issues of crucial importance in our historical moment—ranging from global warming, genocide, capitalism, and racism to sexism, slut-shaming, slavery, and mental illness—in creative ways that facilitate dialogue.This is a work about struggle, survival, injustice, transcendence, and love. Strut explores themes of ancestry, survival, sensuality, and acceptance of self. This book celebrates the gorgeousness of life even as it bears witness to the ugliness that accompanies, and often seems to permeate, the human experience.
“Debut author Davis takes an unflinching approach to racism, religion, emotional abuse, and mental illness. Tiffany’s circumstances are nightmarish, but the narrative isn’t weighed down, in large part because of her integrity, passion, and refusal to be self-pitying.”–Publishers Weekly
“Davis’ debut novel is an honest, funny, and captivating examination of race, socio-economics, mental health, and family…A dynamic and honest coming-of-age novel with universal appeal that will especially speak to black girls questioning their place in the world.”–Kirkus Reviews
“Welcome to Lagos doesn’t just give us a glimpse of Nigeria, it transports us there. Onuzo’s storytelling is masterful, her characters are irresistible, and her voice is astounding in its subtle power. Onuzo stands on the shoulders of Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and from her perch offers her own fresh, but assured, view.” –Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, author of A Kind of Freedom
“Chloe Schwenke’s Self-ish offers an intelligent, thoughtful look at the complex journey that is gender transition, illuminating aspects of gender transition―such as the difficulties of job hunting, the process of forming and renegotiating friendships, and the intersection of trans identity and Quaker religious practice―that haven’t received much attention in memoirs or the media.”–Joy Ladin, author of Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders
“The essays in Against Memoir remind us how pleasure, pain, wisdom, and delight come from the ground up, by and through the body, and in this case, a body unapologetically firing all her desires, pleasures, fears, and dreams like lightning. A hardcore delight, a queer blood song picking the scab off the skin of culture.”–Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan
“An entrancing collection of irreverent and flamboyant essays.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A major literary event: a newly published work from the author of the American classic Their Eyes Were Watching God, with a foreword from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade–abducted from Africa on the last “Black Cargo” ship to arrive in the United States.
“A primer and an inspiration for anyone looking to make their mark during these times of change and uncertainty.”–Juhu Thukral, human rights lawyer and inaugural speaker, Anita Hill Lecture Series
“A must-read for anyone interested in race, gender, class, American political development, the Civil Rights Movement, and the power of social change.”–Christina M. Greer, PhD, associate professor of political science at Fordham University
“A beautifully woven historical saga wrapped in a page-turning mystery, Shadow Child explores time, memory and identity,shedding new light on the lives of Japanese-Americans, and how trauma can be its own kind of inheritance. Not since Housekeeping has there been a pair of sisters so intricately linked as Hana and Kei, or settings that imprint so firmly on the mind, from the internment camps of WWII to the hidden caves and tropical waters of Hawaii. This is a stunning story of sisterhood and survival, of healing and forgiveness, and how we find our true selves in each other.”–Hannah Tinti, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Thief and The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
“National Book Critics Circle finalist Rizzuto blends historical fiction and mystery into a haunting examination of identity and family in this perfect book club choice.”–Library Journal (starred review)
“A compelling mystery, a grimly funny fantasy, and a genuinely touching story of friendship.”–Booklist
“Undead Girl Gang is a YA mash up of ‘The Craft’ and ‘Veronica Mars’ with a Latina protagonist…the best mix of ’90s girl power culture, compelling magic and creepy circumstances—all rolled together for the best kind of murder mystery.”–Bustle.com
May 9 (hardcover), May 15 (paperback), Kindle out now
“Come for the insight into the circle of friends that first resolved around James Baldwin, then shifted orbit to revolve around Maya Angelou. Stay because you’re enraptured by the candid, passionate woman narrating from the periphery. This is an intimate look at an inner circle of Black writers, scholars, and glamazons moving through the middle of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, told with bold tenderness by a woman who grew up in their company, under their gaze.”–Alice Randall, author of Ada’s Rules and The Wind Done Gone
“A necessary contribution to the conversation on gender liberation. Dahlqvist masterfully moves between storytelling and frameworking how stigma holds menstruators back globally, while offering tangible solutions to many of these problems. A must read.”–Kiran Gandhi, musician, activist, and free-bleeding runner at the 2015 London Marathon
“Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand and take action against the global consequences of menstrual shame, stigma, and taboo. An insightful and inspiring read that will challenge you to think and behave differently.”–Mandu Reid, founder of The Cup Effect
“Aja Gabel’s powerful debut offers a sensitive portrait of four young musicians forging their paths through life: sometimes at odds with each other, sometimes in harmony, but always inextricably linked by their shared pasts.”–Celeste Ng, New York Times bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere
“Gabel explores friendship and art with great warmth, humanity, and wisdom.”–Library Journal (starred review)
“Wonderful…. The four characters are individually memorable, but as a quartet they’re unforgettable.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Friendship as Social Justice Activism brings together academics and activists to have essential conversations about friendship, love, and desire as kinetics for social justice movements. The contributors featured here come from across the globe and are all involved in diverse movements, including LGBTQ rights, intimate-partner violence, addiction recovery, housing, migrant, labor, and environmental activism.”–IndieBound
“Uproarious advice and never-before-seen color photos from drag queen extraordinaire Bianca Del Rio.
A collection of biting advice filled with vibrant photos from Bianca’s twisted universe, Blame It On Bianca Del Rio will shock you and keep you laughing. But be warned: it is not for the faint of heart!”–Amazon
Buzzfeed’s #1 Book to Read this Spring
A Best Book of the Month at The Washington Post, Bustle, and Chicago Review of Books
“Morrow’s debut is ambitious and insightful, raising questions about memory, trauma, and humanity. The novel is at its best when it presents Elsie at her most human, forcing the real ones around her to reckon with what her personhood means for theirs.”–Publishers Weekly
“In the world of Bethany C. Morrow’s imaginative and gloriously written first novel, MEM, a memory might have a life of her own. This novel imagines an alternate past where memories can be extracted and turned to flesh, a premise that unfolds with intrigue and wisdom from this writer’s fertile imagination. Don’t miss this exciting debut that will change the way you think about memories.”–Tananarive Due, American Book Award and British Fantasy Award winner
“This thought-provoking thriller examines issues such as abuse, gentrification, and the marginalization of people of color with nuance and sensitivity. The narrative deftly moves back and forth between past and present, building to a devastating conclusion. A spellbinding, profoundly moving choice for YA collections.”–School Library Journal (starred review)
“Jackson doesn’t hold anything back when it comes to the pain of abuse and the ramifications of turning a blind eye. It’s a frank, devastating read filled with real and flawed characters, and it’s a story that needs to be read.”–Booklist
“In this sharp, funny, and timely collection of personal essays, veteran video blogger and star of MTV’s Decoded Franchesca Ramsey explores race, identity, online activism, and the downfall of real communication in the age of social media rants, trolls, and call-out wars.”–Amazon
“This superbly edited collection will introduce many readers to a more versatile and accomplished Gwendolyn Bennett than they have known before. It includes the unpublished political poetry that extends her range and impact, making her a key figure of the 1930s.”–Cary Nelson, author of Repression and Recovery: Modern American Poetry and the Politics of Cultural Memory, 1910-1945
“Angela Garbes maps the strange void at the heart of American parenting-the ways we simultaneously deify, infantilize, and erase mothers-and then pours herself into that void with indefatigable curiosity and resounding compassion. Like a Mother is a deeply-researched history of human reproduction; it is a jewel-bright memoir; it is hard science beautifully translated; it is funny; it is intersectional; it will crack you open and fill you with awe. Required reading for mothers, and double-required for everyone else.”–Lindy West, author of New York Times bestseller Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman
“Women all over Iran risked imprisonment and even their lives and safety to post pictures. Alinejad’s stories of her illustrious career as a groundbreaking journalist challenging the Islamic Republic make for a fascinating narrative.”–Publisher’s Weekly
“[Masih’s] descriptions of life as a journalist and activist will captivate readers interested in Iran, international affairs, gender equality, and human rights.”–Booklist
As You Like It, Volume II of the Gerald Kraak Anthology: African Perspectives on Gender, Social Justice and Sexuality
“These stories take up space; they are big and heavy and weighty and solid. These stories make no apologies. The sentences you will find on these pages are not afraid. They move from the brutal and the bloody to the melodic and the lyrical. They are crisp and controlled then suddenly they melt; sweetly, seductively.”–Sisonke Msimang
Tags: Biography, South Africa, women writers, #OwnVoices, Black women
Jacana Media, 230 pages
“This book reminds us that before 1990 conditions on the ground meant that a determined union supporter such as Ndlovu could pay with her life for being a militant organiser. The new South Africa was not won cheaply.”–William Freund, Professor Emeritus of Economic History, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Tags: Women writers, Africa, South Africa, debut, Black women, #OwnVoices
Jacana Media, 200 pages
“An Image in a Mirror is a richly told and deeply intimate African story about the becoming of two young women, who are, the same as much as they are different. When the sisters, at the age of twenty-two, finally cross their respective worlds to meet, how mirrored will each feel about the other?”–Description
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I’ve finally caught up with this season of The Walking Dead. Like many of you, my partner and I are watching Wild Wild Country which is such a strange story that I had actually never heard before. We love Santa Clarita Diet with Drew Barrymore; it is hilarious. Oh and I also loved the documentary, Seeing Allred, about the indomitable Gloria Allred. It’s a Netflix original and you should watch it.
What are you reading and watching? What are your thoughts on these articles? Comment below and let me know!
Shobha Rao’s Girls Burn Brighteris an intense story of survival and sisterhood.
And so much more.
Set in India against a backdrop of a strict caste system, arranged marriages, and harsh poverty, the two main characters of Rao’s poetic story develop an unlikely friendship that proves to be an enduring constant on which they build the strength needed to endure the violence and powerlessness they experience. This alone is reason enough to read the book but I knew it was important to push myself past the initial awe at this story of strength and resiliency. When I did, I experienced an even deeper story of multidimensional characters navigating their lives and attempting to balance tradition with self-realization.
The book begins with a story about a temple in the village of Indravalli and the old childless woman who was responsible for growing the trees whose wood was used to build it. Referring to the trees as her children, the old woman is complimented on her good fortune to have so many sons. At this, with “her eyes on fire,” the woman quickly gives the correction that the trees are not her sons but her daughters. This story and its subtle emphasis on fire, wholeness, and the girl-child sets the tone for the book and these recurring themes.
As the book continues, the reader witnesses Rao’s distinct talent for detailed descriptions of the surroundings of her main characters, Poornima and Savitha. She offers us a vibrant, albeit stark, picture of life in Indravalli and the ever-present gender inequities women face. Both characters experience trauma that forces them apart and drastically changes the trajectories of their lives.
There was a door, she remembered, a hidden one. Where all her treasures lay. And it remained closed, through the tea stall and the concrete room and the drugs, through the men and the men and the men. And it was through this door that the words found their way.
In her book, as in her BookPage “Behind the Book” article, Rao challenges her reader to reflect upon what a girl is worth.
A brown girl. A poor girl. A disabled girl. An uneducated girl. An ugly girl.
A girl in Khayelitsha, South Africa. A girl in Aleppo, Syria. A girl in Indravalli, India.
What is she worth, anyway? And why should we care?
Throughout Girls Burn Brighter, we must keep these questions in our minds. We must answer them honestly, then interrogate and re-interrogate those answers as well as our biases to get to the truth. The truth may be uncomfortable and unexpected. But to go through this process by reading this book and others like it, is one place to begin to explore the worth of girls. To see their light, their wisdom, their energy, their complexities, their fire, their spirit burning brighter.
A unique debut novel by Tanaz Bhathena, A Girl Like That, is a fascinating and fierce story of young love, life, and death. The book grabs the reader from the first pages when you learn that the main characters just died in a tragic car accident. As they hover over the scene, they reflect upon their short lives and weave together a narrative that describes their limited but impassioned time together.
While on the surface Bhathena offers a reminder of how complicated life can be for young people in general, she also delivers valuable glances into the specific concerns of girls in Saudi Arabia. Family stresses, school bullies, and first love are issues with which most of us can relate. Bhathena expertly brings her reader into these concerns from a Saudi Arabian expat perspective, which may be new for some. While the truth of gender inequality in Saudi Arabia and across the world is challenging to face, Bhathena’s vivid writing style is accessible and relatable.
The author, Tanaz Bhathena.
An #OwnVoices book for Zoroastrianism and expat life, A Girl Like Thatdraws you in from the beginning. It’s a quick and immersive read that I whipped through in days. Here’s hoping that stories like this, that portray the real lives and concerns of girls around the world, will continue to flow into YA and other genres. Tanaz Bhathena is part of a growing group of talented womxn writers leading this important wave and I can’t wait to see what she gives us next.
Title: A Girl Like That
Author: Tanaz Bhathena
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Publication Date: February 27, 2018 My Rating: Recommended
Disclosures: I received this book from another blogger, Karen at For What It’s Worth. Thanks, Karen! This post includes affiliate links. Support your local independent bookseller!
Jasmin Darznik’s latest book is a novel based on the life and work of Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad. Darznik’s first book, entitled The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life, was a New York Times bestseller. With her current work, Darznik tries her hand at recreating the life of Iran’s most provocative poet and filmmaker, and succeeds brilliantly.
Forugh Farrokhzad has been called “Iran’s Sylvia Plath” and lived a fascinating and heartbreaking life. Born in Tehran in 1935, Farrokhzad created rebellious poetry and films that challenged embedded societal norms. She lived and died fighting for the freedom of women to live independently, to create fearlessly, and to love fully. Farrokhzad’s poetry was intimate and honest at a time when being a “poetess” was not considered a serious profession for a woman. Against the backdrop of a domineering father, an unhappy arranged marriage, and a violent and stifling culture, Farrokhzad pushed Iran’s fundamentalist patriarchy to the limit. And she paid for it.
Author Jasmin Darznik was born in Tehran, Iran, and grew up in California.
To live an authentic and meaningful life, Farrokhzad was forced to make numerous sacrifices. While some may condemn Farrokhzad for her recklessness and certain decisions she made, readers of this book may not be so quick to judge. Darznik leads her reader into the fear and limitations that came with daily life as an Iranian woman; the violence as well as the lack of agency, freedom, and education is infuriating to read about. Darznik has done her homework and offers a detailed portrait of Farrokhzad while conceding an Iran of contrasting beauty and oppression. Presenting readers with the honesty of Farrokhzad’s poetry and the reality of her circumstances, while challenging us with her tortured decisions, Darznik brilliantly evokes sympathy and understanding for Farrokhzad. We follow Farrokhzad throughout her captivities and glimpse the determination and sacrifices necessary for her to live the free and independent life she longed for.
Darznik has a poetic writing style herself; with Song of a Captive Bird, she provides readers accessible entry into Iranian literature and poetry, and specifically into the work of Forugh Farrokhzad. One needn’t be a lover of poetry to appreciate this thoughtful and passionate story.
Looking for a few good books by womxn, international authors, trans/gender nonconforming writers, or other historically underrpresented populations? Take a look through some of my favorite websites for the latest in literary news, author info, and reviews.
AALBC is the largest and most popular website dedicated to African American and Black Literature from around the world. We celebrate Black culture, through books, for readers of all backgrounds to enjoy.
Electric Literature is a nonprofit dedicated to making literature more exciting, relevant, and accessible. They are committed to publishing work that is intelligent and unpretentious, to elevating new voices, and to examining how literature and storytelling can help illuminate social justice issues.
The virtual site for The Free Black Women’s Library, a mobile trading library and interactive biblio installation that features a collection of 900 books written by Black women. The library creatively uses books to build community and explore the intersections of race, class, culture and gender while creating space to center and celebrate the voices of Black women in art, film literature. This mobile library pops up monthly and mainly in unique and radical spaces throughout Brooklyn, NYC.
The Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian (GWSL) at the University of Wisconsin provides topical bibliographies and resource guides, lists of feminist and LGBTQ+ publishers and bookstores, as well as one-on-one research consultations to activists, scholars, and citizens around the world.
Glory Edim is the founder of Well-Read Black Girl, a Brooklyn-based book club and digital platform that celebrates the uniqueness of Black literature & sisterhood. Her book club has met with several award-winning authors including Margo Jefferson, Naomi Jackson, and Angela Flournoy. Well-Read Black Girl’s mission is to increase the visibility of Black women writers and initiate meaningful conversation with readers.
An online literary magazine by and about contemporary women writers from around the world. Women Writers, Women’s Books was launched in 2011 to be another platform for contemporary women writers and authors around the world writing in English.
What are your favorite bookish sites or blogs that feature diverse authors and titles?