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books

May 12 2013

First Spring Grass Fire

author: 
Spoon, Rae

Spoon's book is listed as a novel but reads like a memoir, told in nonlinear episodes with the protagonist sharing the author's name. I suppose I shouldn't care about the distinction, but I can't help wanting to know what I'm reading. Regardless, one should treasure the rare opportunity to read about the real or fictionalized life of a genderqueer child growing up in a religious family in the Canadian prairies.

reviewdate: 
May 5 2013
isn: 
978-1-55152-480-1
May 04 2013

How to Get a Girl Pregnant: a Memoir

author: 
Pendleton Jiménez, Karleen

Chicana butch Karleen Pendleton Jiménez has known she wanted to have a baby almost as long as she has known she wasn't a girly girl. Having other things going on in her twenties and no chance of getting pregnant accidentally, she doesn't get around to trying to get knocked up until her mid-30s, which is not typically easy for lesbians in the best of times.

reviewdate: 
Apr 30 2013
isn: 
978-1-926639-40-6
Apr 28 2013

Wedding in Haiti: the Story of a Friendship, a

author: 
Alvarez, Julia

I have long enjoyed Julia Alvarez's reality inspired political fiction, I gobble up autobiographies, and because of my spouse's work with two nonprofits there, I have an interest in Haiti, so of course her Haiti memoir was appealing to me. Unfortunately...

Quotations: 

"We ride into the downtown area [of Port-au-Prince], full of ambivalence. To watch or not to watch. What is the respectful way to move through these scenes of devastation? We came to see, and according to Junior, Haiti needs to be seen. But something feels unsavory about visiting sites where people have suffered and are still suffering. You tell yourself you are here in solidarity. But at the end of the day, you add it up, and you still feel ashamed--at least I do. You haven't improved a damn thing. Natural disaster tourism--that's what it feels like."

reviewdate: 
Apr 24 2013
isn: 
978-1-61620-274-3
Apr 20 2013

Between Sisters

author: 
Badoe, Adwoa

When Gloria, a 16-year-old Ghanaian, more or less flunks junior high school a friend of the family arranges for her to become a nanny for a doctor with a two-year-old son. Stuff does happen in this novel--good things and fair amount of bad things, but it mostly feels like a character development story.

reviewdate: 
Apr 19 2013
isn: 
978-0-88899-997-9
Apr 20 2013

Opposite of Hallelujah, the

author: 
Jarzab, Anna

My sister Danna recommended this book to my parents, brother and me. If you read her review, you'll see why. The titled "opposite of hallelujah" refers to the protagonist Caro's sister Hannah returning home after spending eight years as a nun in a contemplative order. (Kate, you're going to want to read this one!) The girls' parents are excited to have their dark-secreted daughter back, but 16-year-old Caro...less so.

reviewdate: 
Apr 15 2013
isn: 
978-0-385-73836-1
Apr 13 2013

Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, the

author: 
Silverman, Sarah

"At first glance you might find the above [diary entry] interesting but that's because it's me, and you obviously find me interesting enough to read this book."

"Another nice thing about the Jews is that their rabbis don't make a habit of sexually violating their youngest and most vulnerable congregants. Of course, there are obvious reasons for this. For one thing, Jewish clergy are allowed to fuck and masturbate and marry. The first two of these activities work amazingly well for relieving sexual tension. … Oh, also, the Jewish clergy are allowed to have vaginas. As a general rule for any large organization, if you're looking to reduce the rape-iness of it, try hiring more women."

"I have comic friends who are gay. Some remain in the closet, and I don't blame them. It's not just out of fear of prejudice--it's fear of the gay community taking ownership of them. Suddenly, they are a gay comic, saddled with responsibility to represent."

"Please make this book be finished. I'll be honest: I kind of blew it off." from the Afterword, by God, quoting Silverman.

reviewdate: 
Apr 11 2013
isn: 
978-0061987076
Apr 13 2013

Girl Walks Into a Bar Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle

author: 
Dratch, Rachel

Rachel Dratch's compelling memoir is compelling. She tells the story of her fifteen-years-in-the-making overnight success, some failures (that she often managed to turn around on her second try), her friendships, getting knocked up in her mid-forties, and other stuff.

reviewdate: 
Apr 7 2013
isn: 
978-1-10-157990-9
Apr 07 2013

When the Stars Go Blue

author: 
Ferrer, Caridad

Soledad is an 18-year-old Cuban-American dancer from Miami making plans to go to NYC and audition for ballet companies when she's presented with the opportunity to go pro with a drum and bugle corps. (Right? But it sounds like a really cool thing, and a great way to spend the summer after graduating from high school, not to mention with the hottie who suggested her for the gig.)

reviewdate: 
Apr 5 2013
isn: 
978-0-312-65004-9
Mar 31 2013

Tale for the Time Being, a

author: 
Ozeki, Ruth

There's a lot to love, literarily, in Ruth Ozeki's metafictive split narrative novel, but it's not the fastest read. I was completely engaged in the parts of the book that are the diary of a bullied, out-of-place Japanese teenager, but found the second person story about the characters Ruth and Oliver (the author and her husband's real names) and their cat Schrödinger (not their cat's real name) less compelling. I didn't dislike it, but it was a struggle, like Ruth's life.

reviewdate: 
Mar 30 2013
isn: 
978-0-670-02663-0
Mar 24 2013

Requiem

author: 
Oliver, Lauren

I think I've read too many YA dystopias lately, because I can barely keep them straight. This one is the end of the trilogy that started with Delirium. The concept, that love is regarded as a disease, and that people are surgically cured upon turning eighteen, is pretty cool. In Requiem we find our heroine wondering if she'd prefer to be happy (cured) or free (starving in the Wilds). Frankly I often wonder the same thing, regarding how medicated we modern folk are.

reviewdate: 
Mar 21 2013
isn: 
978-0-06-201453-5