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books

May 25 2013

32 Candles

author: 
Carter, Ernessa T.

Davidia, who doesn't speak for most of her Mississippi childhood after being beaten by her drunk of a mom, develops an insane crush on the BMOC at her school about ten years into her silence. Being a psychologically mute school weirdo without a single friend, that doesn't go particularly well for her.

reviewdate: 
May 22 2013
isn: 
978-0-06-200005-7
May 19 2013

Friends, the

author: 
Guy, Rosa

West Indian immigrant Phyllisia Cathy has been plopped down in Harlem with her proud, larger-than-life father, dying mother and pretty, compliant sister.

reviewdate: 
May 18 2013
May 19 2013

Pleasing Hour, the

author: 
King, Lily

Jeune fille is French for nanny. 19-year-old Rosie is spending a year in France escaping her life by taking care of three kids with an exacting mom and a physician dad on a houseboat in Paris. Ooh la la. While the storyline might make this book sound like chick lit, it's really not.

Quotations: 

Today I thought of the first time I realized you [older sister] were not me. I was five and you were setting that red alarm clock and I watched you and I knew that you weren't having the same thoughts. That you wouldn't dream the same thing that night. And that we would die at different times. And that you might die first. It was the first time I ever felt alone. I feel that all the time now.

Three rows down [at a bullfight in Spain], Americans were pushing their way through, boys in backwards baseball caps and T-shirts advertising universities or pubs in other countries. They were boys with wide shoulders and loud laughs, boys oblivious to their foreignness, their wealth, and their freedoms. I felt a sudden compassionate, maternal contempt for them.

reviewdate: 
May 15 2013
isn: 
0-87113-754-2
May 12 2013

What Night Brings

author: 
Trujillo, Carla

Marci Cruz has an abusive father, a mother who is blinded by love for her husband, and wants to be a boy so she can love girls. The story can be hard to read sometimes because Eddie Cruz really is a champion cabrón (there's a ton of Spanish in the book), but seeing 11-year-old Marci and her seven-year-old sister Corin fight back is satisfying.

reviewdate: 
May 11 2013
isn: 
978-188068494-8
May 12 2013

Someday, Someday, Maybe

author: 
Graham, Lauren

Like with First Spring Grass Fire, you wonder of Someday, Someday, Maybe how much of the story of a young aspiring actor in NYC written by a former young aspiring actor in NYC is autobiographical. While reading it I was thinking that it's possible that fictionalizing one's life might make it easier to tell the emotional truth.

Quotations: 

I grasp onto the nearby silver pole, steadying myself as the train lurches along, my hand slipping on the smooth surface, vying for a safe position along with half a dozen other hands. Today, everything about New York leaves me feeling like I'm competing for space, and just barely hanging on.

reviewdate: 
May 8 2013
isn: 
978-0-345-53274-9
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