Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I have to admit that I chose to read this novel almost entirely because of how entranced I was by both the title and the cover. The idea that anyone could have seven husbands seemed foreign to me, at least until I encountered the character of Evelyn Hugo.

The story starts not with Evelyn, but with Monique Grant, a writer working at the major publication Viviant. If you’ve never heard of it, that is fine, because said magazine is, as far as I know, entirely made up. Never outside of a fantasy novel have I seen worldbuilding as intense as is shown in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Prepare to wipe all the movies and actors and producers that you remember from the history of Hollywood away for this vivid reimagining of what the world would be like if we had a whole new set of stars. Some things are the same – the Academy Awards exist, but with all new recipients; Time Warner and Paramount are name dropped, but they operate in the background. References are made to the Stonewall Riots and the Civil Rights movement, and while they do inform the story, they are not fully engaged with.

The biggest change is the title character herself, Evelyn Hugo. The novel centers around the idea that Evelyn wants her story told in a biography, and she wants Monique to write it. Monique and Evelyn’s conversations, and Monique’s life outside of the time she spends at Evelyn’s apartment, act as a frame for Evelyn’s story in the sense that most of the chapters are flashbacks to Evelyn’s past, told from her first-person perspective. Interspersed are short articles from whichever era Evelyn is describing, that show events from the perspective of the press. The book is divided into sections by which husband she was with at the time, each accompanied by an adjective that succinctly describes his presence in her life. Every few chapters the narration will cut back to Monique’s first person perspective as she ponders over the information that Evelyn has given her, which is equal with what is described in the chapters from Evelyn’s perspective.

This all contributes to my key takeaway from this novel, which is that the entire book is beautiful crafted. I gradually got more and more entranced by Evelyn and Monique, who both have incredible and ultimately intersecting stories. There is just the right amount of foreshadowing that made me curious and kept me convinced that I knew what was going on right up until the big reveal, upon which my theory was proven wrong but the story still sustained itself, just in a way that I never could have imagined. I can confidently say that I have never been so thoroughly shocked about a reveal, including all the Doctor Who episodes I have watched, which have some pretty intense plot twists. That said, independent of the absolutely stunning  reveal, the novel absolutely holds itself up as a well written and compelling work of fiction.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo also contains a healthy amount of diversity and LGBTQIA+ representation. One of the smaller but no less important themes examined by the text is the fact that Evelyn Hugo was born Evelyn Herrera, a Cuban-American woman who shed her identity in order that she may become famous and be what the public wanted from her. Many of the characters in the book are either gay or bisexual, and one aspect of the text that makes me particularly happy is that the struggle against bi erasure gets a significant amount of page time. This was not something that I expected coming in to the text, so when I realized that there was so much queer representation I was pleasantly surprised.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is not exactly a happy book, but it is not a sad one either. The full shape of a life lived is exactly what I needed when confronting my own personal loss, and so I’d also recommend it to those who are grieving in the same or similar manner that I am. That said, as a consequence of reading this book I have an uneven tan line from my last beach day, so for those of you looking for a summer read, full of intrigue and drama, this is absolutely a book for you as well.

Happy reading!

Cheers,

Talia

Book Review: So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo

The world is fraught with racial tension, and has been for a long time now. Having meaningful discussions about race is important because they are the first step towards creating real and positive change. Unfortunately, many people struggle with finding the language needed to communicate with one another, which is why I consider So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo to be such an important text. Written by a queer woman of color after my own heart, So you want to talk about race should (in my opinion) be mandatory reading for anyone and everyone, whether or not they think that they have all the answers already[1] or find themselves lost in the minefield that is discussing the need for racial justice.

So you want to talk about race isn’t just about getting people of all races to be nice to one another, this book was written for those with the goal “to fight the systemic oppression that is harming the lives of millions of people of color,” (p. 30). Throughout the text, Oluo stresses how we can only truly fight against racism by pushing back and dismantling the systemic nature of racism in our society. The book undoubtedly centers the conversation around people of color, but also takes the time to address white readers of the text and let them know how they can contribute and where they need to step back and evaluate their own actions and inactions. Reading it as a person of color, I found the sections where Oluo calls out to the POC reading the text extremely validating and in some places informative as well.

So you want to talk about race is broken up into an introduction and seventeen chapters, each of which seeks to answer a question about how to discuss race, including “What if I talk about race wrong?” “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” “I just got called racist, what do I do now?” and ending with “Talking is great, but what else can I do?” Each section breaks down the question, and many of them even include numbered and bolded lists of explanations, responses, actions and possible next steps depending on the situation about how we can individually contribute to overall change.

In a particularly poignant section of the book we as readers are asked to evaluate our own privileges, and how they impact how we see and interact with the world. Oluo tells us to focus on how these privileges have affected us, despite any disadvantages we have. For myself, I had to temporarily set aside my marginalized identities (such as being a queer woman of color among other things) and examine how growing up reasonably comfortable, attending good schools, my college degree, my ability to attend grad school, etc. has contributed to how I formulate my space in the world. While I had done similar exercises in the past I particularly appreciated it within this book, as it has offered me ways to see this exercise of empathy in a new light.

Many times, when people talk about race the conversation stops at black people, but more and more often I encounter books like So you want to talk about race that address the particular struggles of the many other people of color in the united states that are more invisible, such as Asian folk, particularly those who do not fit in to the model minority myth,[2] something that in fact gets an entire chapter of its own.

Week before last, when I reviewed Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesca Ramsey I mentioned that within that text the author used humor to discuss tough racial issues. So you want to talk about race is different in that it isn’t a particularly funny book. Undoubtedly there were times that I laughed, and nowhere was there a space that was unnecessarily heavy; however, given the topic, there are some portions of the book that are hard to read, and I’ll freely admit that I had to set it aside a few times. That said, I do highly recommend this book as a solid grounding space for people new to race discussion and a good refresher for those who do have more experience with fraught racial discussions. Like I said before, this book really should be mandatory reading, so the sooner you get a chance to read it the better!

Happy reading!

Cheers,

Talia

[1] Which I simply don’t think is possible anyway, since there is always more to be seen/known beyond what we humans are capable of.

[2] While the point of this review is obviously to get you to read this book, if you are unfamiliar with the model minority myth, this video is a good place to learn more about it in the meantime before you get your hands on So you want to talk about race.

Book Review: When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

I will freely admit that romance novels are not typically to my taste. I don’t like romcoms, and my least favorite part of any book or movie is almost definitely the romantic subplot. That said, the often heteronormative plot of the majority of romances is what least appeals to me, not the concept of romance itself — which is to say, if something is gay enough I will definitely give it a chance. When Katie Met Cassidy was one of the books that popped up in my Book of the Month queue and it was the one I picked to have sent to my apartment this June.

I was slightly less than impressed with the character of Katie when I started the book, as I at first misjudged her as being the stereotypical incredibly sad and betrayed woman whose fiance dumped her for the best friend, who sat alone on the couch with comfort food – right up until she got annoyed with fitting into that stereotype and decided to take control of her night and took herself out to a bar. A series of fortunate events leads her to run in to Cassidy, a fellow lawyer who had sat opposite her in the boardroom as both parties negotiated a merger.

Both Katie and Cassidy are compelling characters, and my favorite feature of the book was that it was written from both of their perspectives, each chapter alternating which woman was the focus of the third person limited writing style. As I usually have little to no patience for romance, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Part of why I love reading so much is that it allows me to really get in to the head of the narrator, and so I tend to consider constant POV changes jarring when I am too involved in a novel. That said, I loved the changes in this book, because most scenes depicted in the book are actually told twice, from the perspective of both Katie and Cassidy. I am a strong proponent of the idea that everyone sees the world differently, and that a single interaction has as many legitimate perspectives as there are people in the room. As such, I deeply enjoyed the ability to see the development of Katie and Cassidy’s romance from both of their perspectives.

After so many years of reading YA novels where the characters are young and unsure, it was a breath of fresh air to read a romance between adults, aged thirty (Cassidy) and twenty-eight (Katie) respectively. There’s nothing wrong with YA novels, I adore them as much as the next millennial or gen Z reader, but reading the unfolding of a romance where the characters don’t live with their parents is something that I definitely need more of in my life. The best part about them being adults (in my opinion) is that all of the shyness that comes with the sexual experiences of younger people is gone. There are no blushing virgins in this book. The closest to that is Katie, who is unfamiliar with her own homerotic desire, and her naïvité is contrasted with the unapologetic nature of Cassidy, who is very much in-tune with her own sexuality and desires.

If you are looking for a quick read that includes a healthy but not intolerable dose of romance with a tad of drama that is very gay and has a happy ending, I can almost guarantee that you will like this book.

Happy reading,

Cheers,

Talia

We Cannot Be the Land of the Free When Children are in Cages

I try to stay away from politics on the Internet but I refuse to stay silent on this. I am disgusted and dismayed what is happening in our country right now. I’ve always been skeptical of calling the United States “the land of the free” but it is absolutely not the case that we can call ourselves that when children are locked in cages. There is no defending this. What is happening is absolutely despicable, but I refuse to be disheartened because I know that we can fight this. There are so many resources out there if only we use them.

One of my friends on Facebook shared this slate article about how we can fight family separation at the border. It includes a short introduction with explanations of the policies that have lead to these atrocities, and follows with a continually updated list of organizations that are doing what they can to improve the situation and ultimately stop this from happening. It includes where lawyers and people with law experience can help, where translators are needed, places to donate, volunteer, and protest.

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I took a screenshot of this post by Lena Waithe (who I follow on Instagram) since it has information on how to contract congress regarding SB 3036.

My friend Seamus also made a post about his reaction to the situation on his blog here.

Book Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

From the first line about Monday mornings and having an existential crisis I just knew that I was going to love Noteworthy by Riley Redgate. The premise of what is now my new favorite YA novel is that Jordan Sun, a student at the fictional Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, has been rejected from one too many musicals. In the depths of her dismay at the rejection, she gets the idea to take advantage of the lack of communication between students in her own theater department with those in the music department to create the identity of Julian Zhang, the newest member of the Sharpshooters, an elite, all male, a capella octet on campus.

When I was weighing my options on what my next read would be I was hesitant to choose this book, primarily out of worry over whether the novel would pay proper respect to the very real challenges that trans people face, since the character Jordan is a cisgender female. I am happy to report that my fears were groundless, and Jordan as a character is incredibly self aware of herself and her privileges in the novel.

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My hot take text to my roommate after finishing Noteworthy

I have to admit that I do not remember the book of fiction that I read where I genuinely enjoyed being in the headspace of the protagonist. Often I find characters to be insufferable, but Redgate managed to write a character that, while I disagreed with some of her actions, was compelling, authentic, skilled, and willing to grow in to herself in a way that demonstrates both an awareness of her own ignorance and the capability to take steps to rectify said ignorance.

I wish I had this novel when I was a teenager, because it hits all of my buttons. The main character is a bisexual woman of color, which there are plenty of in the world, so having more of them in our fiction is fantastic. So many of the characters are unapologetically out, and yet those that are not do not receive extra criticism for it from friends in the know. That isn’t to say that there is no homophobia or transphobia, because those are real factors that are considered by the characters, but the majority of the relationships that exist are full of loving friendship and apathy. That said, the stakes are played high in this book, and while I do consider it a light-hearted and easy read, there were a few spots where I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough, I was so absorbed by Jordan’s journey.

A recurring and important theme in the novel is the fact that Jordan is a student at Kensington-Blaine due to a scholarship, and so while she attends an incredibly expensive boarding school, her family is incredibly poor and struggles to make ends meet. The juxtaposition of Jordan’s situation with those of her wealthy classmates and friends could be seen as a stereotype, or be ignored, but Redgate integrates Jordan’s experience in a way that is authentic but not exploitative. There comes a moment in the middle of the novel where Jordan acknowledges her poverty not as something to be pitied, but as something that she considers mundane. This causes her to ponder over whether her rich classmates can say the same about their own wealth, and is just one of Jordan’s incredibly self-aware moments that make me again wish that I had been more like her in high school instead of worrying about not having all of the same expensive gadgets as the kids at my private high school who weren’t there on scholarship.

As a former aca-bopper and theater kid myself, in particular as one who didn’t know a lick about it before joining a group my freshman year of college, I delighted in Jordan’s confusion turned to confidence when it comes to the music and the friendship shared by the Sharpshooters. Even so, I’m certain that I would have loved this book even without my musical and theatrical background[1] and I’m confident that anyone who is even mildly interested in YA would love it too.

Happy reading!

Cheers,

Talia

[1] Especially since I have very much let my skills lapse over the years.

Book Review: Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesca Ramsey

Like many black girls in 2012, I loved the video Shit White Girls Say…to Black Girls, posted on the channel Chesaleigh. It was funny and on point, and to be honest I forgot about it within a year or so, too busy living my own life to pay much attention to the internet. Meanwhile Franchesca Ramsey was living her life, which I had the pleasure of reading about in her new memoir Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist. This memoir chronicles the rise to fame that Ramsey underwent after her video went viral and the many ramifications of becoming, as she says, an accidental activist.

I have so many feelings about this book that it is hard to begin, but I have to say that what most struck me was how easy a book this is to read. The marginalization and othering of minoritized groups can be a distressing topic, and while it is one that I consider to be worthwhile, it can take its toll. While I have not watched many more of Ramsey’s videos beyond “SWGSTBG” and a few episodes of her and MTV’s web series Decoded I can tell from this book alone that Ramsey has the exceptional quality of disseminating and explaining simply concepts that are not-so-simple. She does so throughout the text, using her own missteps and sometimes cringeworthy actions and experiences to show the reader where she went wrong and how we can use those experiences to better our own lives and everyday reactions. The book alternates between showing what to do and what not to do in a way that is hilarious but in no way cheapens the importance of the topics discussed. Ramsey throws plenty of shade at her former self, in no way absolving her actions of their impact, but instead showing us how we can be better.

One topic she discusses at length is how there have been numerous accounts of what she at times calls “black-lash” of fellow black people who thought that she betrayed them with her handling of certain events. The first instance of this was after her interview with Anderson Cooper about the “SWGSTBG” video, and how she felt “crushed” by what people were saying to her, and it was only because of the people who were willing to help her discover her mistakes and where to do better that she was able to become the activist that she is today.

Toward the end of the book, Ramsey has a section dedicated to eulogies for phrases that should no longer be uttered, and while it was hilarious, I also liked the section because it does a very good job of explaining why said pieces of rhetoric are outdated or just plain wrong, and how their impact can be remarkably harmful. Each phrase is bolded, followed by three separate points: where it is commonly heard, why it needs to go, and a comeback for those who respond. A couple favorites of mine among those that need to be laid to rest are “It’s just a joke” and “Well, I don’t see color”, both of which have funny but thoughtful explanations for why those lines of thinking are inherently flawed.

As someone who is also in an interracial relationship, I particularly appreciated Ramsey’s chapter about her relationship with her husband (who is white) and how other people have reacted to it. In the vein of people’s reactions to things that aren’t their business, another favorite chapter of mine chronicled the best and worst ways to end a friendship with someone, particularly as it pertains to Facebook. Sad drama mask icons denote a scale of one to five in terms of how much drama one faces by unfriending the group of people described, and at the end of it all Ramsey even includes a flowchart that is not only funny but practical.

I could go on and on about my favorite parts of the book (which, let’s be honest, is most of the book) yet I want to take a step back and refer to chapter four, where Ramsey calls back to her relationship with her hair through the years, and references an (unsourced) quote, which is “Be who you needed when you were younger.” That simple message, more than anything, is what gets to the heart of this book. As a memoir reflecting on past mistakes, Well, That Escalated Quickly is inherently a volume of information that would have been incredibly useful for a younger Franchesca Ramsey, and is therefore an excellent resource for young folk everywhere.

I’ll admit that this book isn’t for everyone. It takes as its premise that the reader is curious and open toward being an activist in their own right, and the style of humor is brash and unflinching, which I liked but I know might throw some people off. That said, I wholeheartedly believe this book to be an excellent resource, especially for those that are at entry-level for activism, and are eager to learn but aren’t quite sure where to start. And even if you have started, there is always room to improve.

The last section before the acknowledgements is a glossary for those who might be unfamiliar with certain terms, and is as informative as it is funny, and includes the message (under the word “woke”) that “’Getting woke’ should be a moment on your journey, because we never stop having our eyes opened to experiences that we don’t have because of our own privilege or biases,” (p. 240). So keep learning, and if you want my advice, start with this book.

Happy reading!

Cheers,

Talia

Book Review: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

I’m not exactly a scientist. For all that my mother has a PhD in Cell Biology and my girlfriend works in tech, I didn’t major in a STEM field, and had to drop almost every science class I attempted to take in college to save my GPA from ruin. All that said, I maintain an insatiable curiosity about the universe, and so when I was walking through the bookstore and stumbled upon Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, I just knew that I needed to buy myself a copy.

In his preface, Neil deGrasse Tyson offers this book as something for those who are  “too busy to absorb the cosmos via classes, textbooks, or documentaries, and […] nonetheless seek a brief and meaningful introduction to the field,” (p, 12). Personally, I have watched a documentary or two, seen all episodes of Crash Course Astronomy twice or more, and in fact spent an entire semester in an astronomy class, so I do not exactly fit into this category. That is not to say that I did not find this book enriching and valuable, because I very much did. While this book was not written exactly for me, I nevertheless enjoyed it immensely, as the narrative format kept me informed, supplementing information that I already knew, but softening the spiky edges that the math* had created for me while in my courses or watching videos.

Each chapter of the book can for the most part be read as an independent essay, though to get the big picture I read them all, and each flowed easily into the next. That said, they could each be read alone, especially since the sparse but informative footnotes made a brief repeat of important details (picoseconds, I’m looking at you). Personally I’m a big fan of footnotes, but I think that even for those that don’t love them as much as me and Nabokov those within Astrophysics for People in a Hurry are tolerable since they are few and contain only that which is essential and/or funny.

Starting with the big bang, deGrasse Tyson takes us through the beginning of the universe, blending the facts as we know them with how we know them and thus pairing together science and history as the seamless entities they are in a chapter literally titled “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” All of the subsequent chapters focus on an important concept and/or issue in the field of astrophysics, including the much-misunderstood (and distinct!) concepts of dark matter and dark energy that get so much traction within science fiction narratives. Not to mention that in all of the places relevant to it deGrasse Tyson seriously deliberates on the concept of a multiverse, which makes my little nerd heart sing.

The book’s comedic elements are lighthearted and evenly paced, such that I felt both informed and entertained. Any time I might have felt that there was too much information being imported to my brain there would be a brief quip about Pluto to make me laugh.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is not just an excellent outline of what we know about the universe (though it is that) but also a treatise on how viewing life and existence on a cosmic level can inform us as sentient beings to see ourselves as but a mote in the universe. What I’ve taken away from this book is that what we don’t know is vastly larger in quantity than what we do, but staying curious and empathizing with one another is what makes our experiences meaningful. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an even a passing interest in astronomy, since the universe is even more amazing than they may think.

Happy reading!

Cheers,

Talia

 

*I’m not actually as bad at math as I act like I am, but what little skill I have lies with basic algebra rather than calculus or geometry.

Rest in Peace, Malika Franks

At 6:45am this morning, June 9th 2018, my great aunt Malika died. I call her my great aunt not just because she was the sister of my grandmother, but also because she was a great person, to me, my mother, and so many others. She was incredibly kind, loving, and giving. In our last conversation she told me that as soon as she was out of hospice she would be getting started on making my wedding dress for me. It wasn’t something that I had given much thought to, since I don’t plan on getting married at the age of twenty-two[1], but the pain cut through me, because at only 69 years young, there should have been plenty of time for her to make me a dress for when I do get married at some point in the future.

Malika was an excellent seamstress, and upon thinking about it I never would have considered anyone else as a viable candidate for making me a dress. She used to make all sorts of little dresses for my dolls, and one year she even made me my own “Princess Talia” costume.

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Princess Talia with her aunt Malika, October 1st 2002.

Disney hadn’t developed any black princesses yet when I was in the first grade, and so with Malika’s help, I became my own princess. The costume was incredibly detailed, and so soft. It even had detachable puffy sleeves, to account for October not being the most consistent month in terms of temperature. Bright pink and drenched in glitter, it was exactly what I needed in a time before the world properly started to acknowledge that black is beautiful.

No matter what I needed, Malika was always there to support me, and I do not think I could be where I am in my life without her. I know that she was suffering, and that she is in a better place now, but I still miss her so much. She had so much to offer the world, which can be such a dark and harsh place. One of our brightest stars was indelibly dimmed.

I love you auntie. Rest in peace, and give cousin all Anthony our love.

Talia

[1] I know that some people do get married this young, which is fine for them, but isn’t what I want for myself.

Book Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

As with many of my interests these days, I first came across Trevor Noah via YouTube. More precisely, through a YouTube video embedded in a New York Times video. Upon watching the video I laughed more than I had in a long time. The fact of the matter is that I don’t remember which video it was because I laugh that hard at almost everything of his that I watch. His comedy has the excellent quality of being both hilarious and full of depth.

For those of you who are unaware of whom I am talking about, Trevor Noah is a comedian from South Africa who currently hosts The Daily Show on Comedy Central. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood is his autobiography which touches upon major and what may appear to be minor episodes of his child and young adulthood, including the crime of his own birth.

The book opens with a excerpt from the the South African Immorality Act of 1927, which existed “To prohibit illicit carnal intercourse between Europeans and natives and other acts in relation thereto.” As the son of a black mother and a white father, Noah’s birth was inherent proof of his parents’ illegal actions. Throughout the text Noah describes his experience growing up as apartheid was crumbling and he himself did not fit in anywhere. This is something that Noah discusses at length, by describing how he does and does not fit in the categories that had been created for South Africans.

As a mixed race person myself, I particularly enjoyed reading Noah’s description in chapter two regarding why the systems of societies based on institutionalized racism proved not only unjust but also unsustainable due to the fact that race-mixing proves that the races can and want to mix and that “[b]ecause a mixed person embodies that rebuke to the logic of the system, race-mixing becomes a crime worse than treason.” (p. 21)

What I took most to heart from this book was Noah’s dedication to his mother, to whom the book is dedicated. As someone who is very close with my own mother I always enjoy texts that explore the parent-child relationship. Their relationship as described in the text is different from my relationship with my own mother to be sure, but I was reminded of my mum as Noah described his upbringing in chapter five saying that his mother “raised [him] as if there were no limitations on where [he] could go or what [he] could do. When [he] look[s] back [he] realize[s] she raised [him] like a white kid—not white culturally, but in the sense of believing that the world was [his] oyster, that [he] should speak up for [him]self, that [his] ideas and thoughts and decisions mattered” (p 73) which is exactly how I feel that my mother raised me.[1]

Although Noah was born over a decade before me in a country and an environment that is half a world away from my own, I feel a sort of kinship with him after having read this book. Not only that, but I find myself more informed after having read about his experience, not just because of what the book itself contains, but also the curiosity that it has instilled in me to do further investigation into the history and culture that are presented in the text.

Each chapter is prefaced with a small description, never more than a page and a half, sometimes only a paragraph, that gives a perspective outside of the flow of narration throughout the autobiography. The narrative voice is still Noah’s, but these prefaces give a distanced perspective, sometimes providing historical context, and sometimes adding to the winding narration by giving a slightly different viewpoint from the main text.

Despite the comedy present through every inch of this book, there exist nuance and meaningful life lessons on every page. That is not to say that I necessarily agree with everything presented in the text, but the narration provided me with enough food for thought that I was able to question my beliefs and re-adjust my thought processes to allow for the new information obtained from both the text and my resulting outside research. I know for a fact that this is a book that I will re-read many times. I’ve already gone over it twice, some passages more than that. I have 23 post-it notes from my first reading alone, which took me less than 24 hours, I was so enraptured by the text.

All told, I highly recommend this autobiography as a must-read, for everyone, but especially to those who find themselves in want of something that while light-hearted gives serious food for thought, and what USA Today calls “A soul-nourishing pleasure,”[2] something that I wholeheartedly agree with.

Happy reading!

Cheers,

Talia

[1] Note: It has been pointed out to me that this sounds like I believe that white parents tell their kids that they can succeed, whereas black parents do not, which is not what I meant at all. What I am trying to get across (and what I think Noah is trying to get across) is that due to systemic racism and oppression, limits are put upon children of color in order to protect them from harsh realities, which can damage their ability to aspire to great heights. My mother always acted like “can’t” was a swearword in our house, but many kids are told that they cannot do something, simply because their parents are concerned that an unjust system would cause them pain, both emotional distress and physical harm.

[2] This is according to the blurb on the cover of my book.

Vaguely Sinister Pictures of Trees

A favored pastime of mine is to walk through a forest taking pictures of the trees and other plants. I’m not a botanist, but there is something about nature on a slightly overcast day that makes them look both beautiful and vaguely sinister, which is why I like taking pictures of them. Those shown below are from the long and short trails on the way to the tower on Cannon mountain in the Franconia Notch State Park. We rode the tram up on Memorial Day weekend this year and used both trails as a loop to get us to the top of the tower.