GAYS MILLS - I was trying to think of what I should write about in my column this week and I realized I couldn’t come up with anything all too exciting, mostly because I’ve had my nose stuck in a book 90 percent of the time lately.
I’ve been rolling through the reading ever since I gave myself that goal as a New Year’s resolution. It really is a lot easier to stick to than telling myself no more pizza and beer.
I seem to be stuck on a New York Times Best Sellers List with all of my recent choices.
I just wrapped up ‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas over my lunch hour.
I am probably a little late to the party on reading this because I see, thanks to trusty old Google it’s already been made into a movie. When I mentioned this, my serious bookworm of a coworker let out a squawk that indicates I have indeed, been living under a rock.
The story follows Starr Carter, a young black woman who lives in her neighborhood of Garden Heights. She witnesses her childhood best friend Khalil murdered by a white police officer. The story switches back and forth between her internal self, coping with the loss of Khalil and the trauma that goes along with it–along with the outrage and cries for justice in her neighborhood. This is coupled with Starr navigating her life at the predominately white, wealthy, prep school that she attends–creating that two-worlds-collide aspect.
It really is a must read, especially for someone who lives in an extremely rural, not-so-diverse place like I do. Although it doesn’t give me all the answers, ideas or understanding of the injustices and hardships thaPeople of Color endure, because, simply put, I’m not a PoC, it shines a sliver of light on the topic, not from the medias’ perspective, but from a young, black female author. If you like to read books, you should really go pick this one up. I was lucky enough to have it gifted to me for my birthday. I plan to plop it in a local Little Free Library, so, keep your eyes peeled!
Along the vein of best sellers written by young black women, I also recently read ‘Such a Fun Age’ by Kiley Reid.
‘Such a Fun Age’ follows the story of Emira, a young, black woman who works as a baby sitter for a wealthy, blogger, motivational speaker self-branded white woman, named Alix. Alix has a situation at her house late in the evening that causes her to need Emira to take her daughter out of the house, while the cops are at the home. Emira takes her to the novel’s equivalent of a Whole Foods type of grocery store, where they mosey around; doing things a two year old likes to do at a store (smelling the boxes of tea and checking out the bulk nut selection.) Things go array with another shopper assumes that Emira kidnapped the little girl in her care and reports her to a security guard. The book jacket description includes “With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Ageexplores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone ‘family,’ the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.”
And the Atlantic’s review of it carries the headline “Such a Fun Age Satirizes the White Pursuit of Wokeness: Kiley Reid’s debut novel is a funny, fast paced, empathetic examination of privilege in America.” Both descriptions are accurate.
I don't want to give away too many details because I felt like this book was really well written and had a refreshing, unexpected ending. Funny enough, I picked it up at the Gays Mills Public Library because I thought the book jacket was pretty and eye catching. Judging a book by its cover paid off. I’ve urged my best friend Stephanie to rush to her local library to check it out and read it as well. She, however has declined, apparently not much of a reader. I hope you dear column readers will be wiser than my best friend and get your hands on a copy of Such a Fun Age.
And then, to take things in a completely different direction, I also just finished ‘Up Stairs at the White House: My life With the First Ladies,’ by J.B. West. This book was a break from my goal of sticking to real live books as I read it on my Kindle. I was lying in my dark room, and didn’t want to risk waking the baby by clicking on Thatcher’s shark headlamp to read by so, I downloaded this selection. I’m not entirely sure why because to be honest I never actually put much thought into the First Ladies, beyond Michelle Obama (whose biography I’ve also read). It covers the administrations from Eleanor Roosevelt to the beginning of Pat Nixon. J.B. West was the ‘Head Usher’ at the White House for all of these women. He was in charge, it seems, helping them to do a lot of redecorating and party throwing. An odd perspective, but it did make me want to look and see if the next generation of Ushers wrote a book, and if the next crop of First Ladies also stayed in bed until noon, every day.Next on deck is ‘Flight Behavior’ by Barbara Kingsolver. A score from one of the several Gays Mills Little Free Libraries I am able to browse. Hopefully, I’ll have a good report when I update you on my next batch of books.