Friday, 18 August 2017

Why I'm Loving Microblogging

I first heard about micro blogging - using other platforms as a mini blog - on Imii's blog. I guess I was aware of it before but had never really put a name on it. Now that I'm conscious of what it is - I bloody love it!

Obviously here on the blog, I talk mostly about books and films but the truth is, it takes me a hot minute to put posts together. I'm really working on it and I believeeeee (no really, I believe) that over the next few weeks we're going to be seeing miracles on here because I so badly want to be turning out good content every week! But the thing is, I read so much quicker than I can post and I put such an unnecessary amount of pressure on myself to write film posts I'm not sure why, that it just never happens. I think it's because they're probably my absolute favourite things to write that and I always feel like I have loads to say, that I just really work myself until I'm 80% happy with them, before putting them up. I'm currently trying to resurrect about 8 reviews that have just been chilling in my drafts for months - the struggle is real.

The thing with micro blogging - which I'm still getting used to, is that I'm able to document my instant reactions to books, TV, film + life in general without overthinking. I don't edit anything and it feels very free. And I'd say you get a much stronger sense of my personality from those posts because they really are unfiltered. I tend to react to literal pages as I read them :L and love live tweeting shows - especially 'The Bachelor/Bachelorette'.

There's a lot I read that won't ever end up on here  but it's nice to still be able to talk about them and see what other people are thinking too. We're all I feel more likely to comment on an Instagram post or Twitter thread than we are a blog post and we do have different discussions on the respective platforms.

SO! Do check out my Instagram *shameless promo* and give it a follow. And from Monday the 21st, I'll be reviewing every single episode of Marvel's 'The Defenders' and wow I literally decided to do that as I typed out that sentence I am wild. #lookatthisbooknerdgo #lifeontheedge #YOLO


Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is one of those posts that aligned beautifully. Beautifully in that at the time of reading Chimamanda's latest offering Dear Ijeawele, so much other stuff was going on, that reminded me why this book is  so hardhitting,  so important and still so so necessary. What was not so beautiful was what was actually going down. I'll get to that.

'Dear Ijeawele' came about after Chimamanda's friend had just had a baby and asked her how she may raise her to be a feminist. She responded with this long ass email with fifteen suggestions and decided to share it!

<3 p="">In this short book, she boils feminism down to its bear essentials. These 15 pointers manage to perfectly capture the essence of what feminism is and its digestible. I've heard people say its "too simple", "it's for a new feminist" not for us, we're quite advanced thank you very much. And I think as someone who follows a lot liberal feminists on social media (after all you tend to follow people you agree/identify with), it's so easy to forget that a. a lot of people aren't feminists, b. a lot of people have  just hopped on the very popular feminist bandwagon without understanding what it means and c. you're not a perfect feminist and you don't know everything.

What sets Dear Ijeawele apart from other feminist essay collections, is that it constantly challenges sexist/misogynist rhetoric I'm going to be bold and say, that she sees in her Nigerian culture. And there's certainly stuff she calls out on, that I've heard/said/seen as a Ghanaian. 

She writes with such bold and unapologetic clarity and it reads so seamlessly. How simple it is I think adds a certain weight to what she's saying because it is so clear but we/society seem to have forgotten or just don't know.

"Teach her to reject likeability. Her job is not make herself likeable, her job is to be her full self."

"People will selectively use 'tradition' to justify anything."

"Sadly, women have learned to be ashamed and apologetic about pursuits that are seen as traditionally female such as fashion and makeup. But our society does not expect men to feel ashamed of pursuits considered generally male."

"I mean the sort of anti-feminists who gleefully raise examples of women saying 'I am not a feminist' as though a person born with a vagina making this statement somehow automatically discredits feminism. That a woman claims not to be a feminist does not diminish the necessity of feminism, If anything, it makes us see the extent of the problem, the successful reach of patriarchy. It shows us, too, that not all women are feminists and not all men are misogynists."

"Teach her never to universalise her own standards or experiences. Teach her that her standards are for her alone and not for other people."

"The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina. Cooking - domestic work in general - is a life skill that both men and women should ideally have."

"Troubling is the idea...that men are naturally superior but should be expected to 'treat women well.' No. No. No. There must be more than male benevolence as the basis for a woman's well-being."

"Teach her that if you criticise X in women but do not criticise X in men, then you do not have a problem with X, you have a problem with women. For X please insert words like 'anger,' 'ambition,' 'loudness,' 'stubbornness,' 'coldness,' 'ruthlessness'."

"Tell her that women actually don't need to championed and revered, they just need to be treated as equal human beings."
<3 p="">
At the time of reading this, Ghana's gender minister Otiko Djaba advised secondary school girls, to not wear short dresses because it can attract someone "who would want to rape or defile you". Sigh sigh sigh. Obviously, this is not the first time I've heard this and I think I'm so tired of it that if you asked me what I thought, I'd probably just roll my eyes and get on with my day. But I started thinking about this properly. About what it actually means to rape someone? And I quickly realised my go-to reaction is simply not good enough. The actual act of violating another human being's body is horrendous enough and to do it in such an intrusive and obscene way?! And then for the gender minister of an entire country, to not recognise this and spend her time telling young women that rape happens because we don't "take responsibility for our own actions". It's not even just problematic its dangerous that someone so influential doesn't understand that rape is not logical, it is an act of violence. And while it happens to both men and women, men are statistically more likely to be the perpetrators of rape; because we've conditioned men into thinking that they have power over our bodies and our sexuality and women into thinking that all we should and can do, is protect ourselves.

This is like, really obvious basic stuff but clearly, we don't all understand.

Again as I was reading this, my flatmate and I heard what we thought was a woman being violated , in some capacity I don't know, and screaming out for help. We called the police who was, I kid you not, the chillest policeman ever considering the circumstances. He firstly suggested we go downstairs and have a look and after we flatout refused because um no not tryna get raped and die in the French countryside thank you sir (maybe we should've gone down but we were quite scared); he's said something along the lines of,"don't worry about it it's probably just a couple having an argument. You did the right thing to call ... have a nice evening." This was the first time I'd ever called the police and I was just so appalled that another woman's life meant so little to the authorities. It still blows my mind.
<3 p="">
<3 p="">I say all this to say, we can dress feminism up as much as we like but there's still a case to be made for simple digestible feminist literature. We still need to be  armed with basic yet sharp arguments so because I want to be ready and bold when responding to some of the misogynist sexist shit happens around and to me everyday.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Water in May by Ismรฉe Williams

**I kindly received a copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinions on the book.**

'Water in May' is about Mari Pujols, a fifteen year old girl who finds herself pregnant. Having had a not-so-easy upbringing after being abandoned by her parents; she's excited for the arrival of her baby boy. She's prepared to shower him with the unconditional love she's never had. Doctors however soon discover that the baby has a potentially fatal heart condition. So with the help of her friends and a committed doctor, we follow her as she navigates the decisions and emotions that challenge her to grow, heal and love in a way she's never had to before. 

Our protagonist Mari, demonstrates a level of strength and emotional maturity that I'm not used to seeing in contemporaries and it was so welcomed! Even as a 15 year old character, her voice seems so bold and as a character she's quite self aware and it was super refreshing to be lead through this story by an unconventional, strong female voice. Do bear in mind though that this book is written from the point of view of a 15 year old. Now I'm not saying y'all can't talk properly buttt, the grammar and language was at times difficult to get past. That said, rather than feeling ashamed or embarrassed about her pregnancy she sort of just gets on with it and pushes through the adversity. The sisterhood is also very present here because Mari doesn't have a lot of family to rely on; it was so great to see this group of female friends be a rock and just turn out for her!

While the story isn't particularly plot driven (the majority of which takes place in a hospital) having such bold and distinctive characters kept me on board. The turmoil of Mari and the other mothers particularly, I felt was authentic and dealt with delicately; something I think can be accredited to the fact that the author herself is a doctor and could draw on these emotions from experience.

A personal stumbling block was Ismee Williams' writing style which I think will really connect with some readers, and alienate others. It includes a lot of Spanish/ Dominican slang and translations only appearing at the end. And while I understand the choice because, it does immediately throw us into this almost visceral neighbourhood; as a non Spanish speaker I did find myself pushing myself through to get to the end. As I mentioned, because the plot is pretty slow going at times it felt like hard work. 

Water in May comes out on 12th September 2017. 


Comic Con 'Thor Ragnorak' Trailer Thoughts

Oooh this world looks gooooood?!


Is Thor in Hel (afterlife for the Asgardian dishonourable dead)? Why he here? What'd he do? So many questions.

Okay I see you Marvel, utilising Chris' comic timing


Oh my word the Goddess of Death YES THEN?!

Nahh Cate is doing the most I am so here for this. Is there anything that woman cannot play?!

Um no Thor and Loki are better AGAINST each other 


Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie yaaaas girl 

Ensemble casts standing in a super dramatic line is a definitely a 2017 superhero movie trend I am not here for 

What is going on? What is this sommotion? Why all the CGI? I LIKEE it though?! So conflicted.

Really impressed with the direction director, Taika Waititi seems to be taking with the Thor franchise! It seems more lighthearted, fun, OTT, touches of fantasy everyone loved in Guardians of the Galaxy and also; looks like it's going to be very mythology heavy which I'm so excited to see. I'm left with about 1000 questions though.

Comic Con 'Justice League' Trailer Reactions

Ever since BVS DoJ I've been super wary of the DC Extended Universe I can't lie, I don't even know if I want to be watching this trailer


Ahhh Wonder Woman!! What a fricking badass?! Sigh. SIGH


Also, good decision to open the trailer with arguably the DCEU's only successful superhero ๐Ÿ–’๐Ÿ–’๐Ÿ–’

@0.52 sooo we still haven't clocked that Bat Signal is the worst, least subtle distress signal - ever? Because surely then everyone knows Batman is on his way like how old is the Batman character?! Why haven't we fixed this?! Couldn't he just shoot him a text?

Affleck's so dull as Batman andd, I'm now having BvS DoJ flashbacks make it stop


Eeeeek Themyscira army YAAAS. Okay I'm enjoying these Wonder Woman touches - a welcome welcome surprise

@1.29 Okay Aquaman I see you?! 

I guess that whole thing where every DC character is making fun of Aquaman ...we're not going to be able to that here, are we. When he's Jason Mamoa? When's he's this fine?! Lol we tried it. 

@2.21 LOL. I said this before and I'll say it again, Ezra Miller casting was genius! Looks like they've captured that brilliant/weird/funny Flash from the comics YES!

@2.23 Has Cyborg said anything yet?

I am ... not fan of the Transformers vibes I'm getting from this trailer. This CGI is on fleeek - not in a good way. 

Eeeekk Aquaman :') 

Are we even going to pretend we didn't know that's Superman. Cheekyyy

Waiting for an Aquaman Trailer leak like

Send links pls ๐Ÿ–‘๐Ÿ–‘๐Ÿ–‘


Friday, 30 June 2017

Film Review: The Age of Adaline

Stars: Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Michiel Huisman and Ellen Burstyn 
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger

'The Age of Adaline' is yet another film that tries to address the concept of ageing, using implausible "science", to justify an essentially very silly plot. If you can get over that, and the inexplicable and often jarring storybook narration throughout, there's stuff in here to be enjoyed.

Blake Lively stars as Adaline Bowman, a woman born in 1908 who meets and loses her husband in the construction of the Golden Gate bridge. Years later, she's involved in a freak accident of her own ; she's struck by lightning and from then on doesn't age, staying fixed at 29 forever. While she can be killed, she will never die of natural causes, striking  an interesting dynamic  between herself and daughter played by Ellen Burnstyn, though the film doesn't explore this nearly as much as it could have.

Adaline realises she'll have to spend the rest of her life on the run and every decade or so, she slips away reappearing somewhere else as somebody else. Bar one time in the 60's when she fell in love with a medical student, William - a medical student, she's been keeping her distance from everyone. That is until she meets Ellis Jones, a perfectly "nice" philanthropist who awakens her longing for love and companionship.

Ellis and Adaline - now Jenny, make a rather bland couple; both attractive, sweet ... precious even but lack any other identifiable traits. Adaline is constantly described as "remarkable" when the truth of the matter is, the only reason she's great at trivia and speaks so many languages, is because she's been around a bit. As they fall in love, she crosses paths with William (Harrison Ford) who by a random turn of events, is Ellis' father. Ford's gives a strong performance as a man rattled by the similarity between "Jenny" and his lost love Adaline. As he  begins to unravel, and a series of events follow that threaten to expose the truth.

While Lively and Huisman are perfectly acceptable leads, their presence doesn't demand much of us and for the most part, 'The Age of Adaline' feels painstakingly slow. Ford however elevates the film, giving it the gravitas and much needed emotional tug this film so desperately needs. That said, it's not really enough. The film's neatly tied up ending just goes to show its overall failure to take risks and develop any of it's more interesting fairy-tale like aspects.


Saturday, 24 June 2017

libraries, diversity + Malorie Blackman

I got into reading when I was 8 and discovered my school library. Free books? Everyday? Yes please. At the time, I was reading a lot Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Morpurgo, Judy Blume, Enid Blyton + Mary Kate and Ashley. Our school librarian would give us "recommendations", and always tried to point me in the direction of non fiction about "African drums" (obvs noone was reading her token diversity picks). Like babes, I just need to know who Mary Kate picks to prom do you have the next instalment of So Little Time or not?

Anyway, all these books were my gateway to literature and in many ways, I was spoilt for choice. Between them, I found diversity in themes, genre and style. Judy Blume taught me puberty and being a girl, Enid Blyton gave me my detective fix (those Famous Five, such thrill chasers) and I'm pretty sure up until 14, everything I knew about the Second World War was based on like 2 Michael Morpurgo books - probably not great but we all start somewhere.

After a year a so, I did start searching for characters I could identify with. I'll give you a little bit of context, I'd just moved from Ghana, straight in a very white world. I was one of 5 people of colour in my entire primary school and I just wasn't fitting in. I wasn't making friends, I had people feeling up my hair all the time, asking me how I spoke such good English, if I used to live in a mud hut and I just got increasingly pissed off tbh. That's the thing about experiencing racism + ignorant comments, the first time you encounter it you don't really know what it is. It just doesn't feel nice and it's so hard to communicate as to why, even to yourself. So books became my safe space. And now, I wanted to read books with characters that looked like me. Characters I could identify with from a racial/cultural perspective. Simples ๐Ÿ˜Š. Not that deep ๐Ÿ˜˜. Not a big ask ๐Ÿ˜Ž.

Things are improving now but finding  POC in YA was a real struggle. Or maybe they were there but our school didn't see the need to stock them because obviously, books with POC are only for POC and white characters are the norm - they're for everyone.

When looking, I found Bali Rai; whose stories are set in this multi-cultural Britain that I hadn't seen before. It wasn't around me, it wasn't in books or on TV. Rani and Sukh was a revelation - where. were. these. people. And then one day, I was scouting the shelves and found a book with a black boy on the cover, and the book had nothing to do with race. It was A.N.T.I.D.O.T.E by Malorie Blackman: a detective story, with a main character who just so happened to be black. Mind = blown. And it was a great read?! #Spoilt

In case you haven't read anything by Malorie Blackman, her books are YA but don't baby their audience; he's covered ghost stories, thrillers, race, identity, family dramas, teen pregnancies, health - no subject is off the table.

I remember reading Noughts and Crosses for the first time and being completely hooked. It's set in an alternate society where Sephy, a member of the ruling dark-skinned ruling class falls in love with Callum, "colourless" from the underclass and the two  navigate this world of distrust and prejudice. It's such a thought-provoking, emotionally charged, complex, thrilling, sad look into racism and I've never read anything like it since. Malorie Blackman just opened up my world. I grew up with some of the characters in these books and I felt seen.

It is so powerful, so important, so empowering, to see yourself in literature. For a long time, when POC appear in fiction, they're either dropped in  passing or given fairly linear side plots loaded with stereotypes. It's really hard to dream, aspire or have self esteem when the culture around you just fails to acknowledge your existence. I've  seen a shift in the YA being published; it's a lot more diverse than when I was at school but it's still nowhere near where it should be. The stats I found ^ are actually US figures from 2015, I couldn't even find UK stats but I know it's a lot harder to find BAME authors from the UK than US.  We're still at a stage where we have to be actively looking, to find them, especially in UKYA. So I'm going to leave a few links I use, to help you find some! And  guys, do yourself a service and read Noughts and Crosses ๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’ž


Friday, 16 June 2017

Summer Plans ๐ŸŒž๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿจ๐Ÿ“š✍๐Ÿฟ

Summer holidays are here wohoo and I have plans. Summer normally isn't very easy for me. Once I've moved out of my uni bubble, I'm not surrounded by people or deadlines and I become aware of  so being lonely and just not feeling so great. So it's really important for me to have plans to keep myself busy. 

  • Uni ! This has already happened :L but yes a week after landing home, I went off to uni for a few days. Next year, I'm president of Blog Soc *woop* so I had a few meetings and met the committee. Everyone I met was lovely and just confirmed the fact the bloggers overall, must I be the friendliest group of people :') I also met up with a couple of friends I hadn't seen in a year!! Much needed catch up. 
  • Read. Duh. But it's actually harder during the holidays because I wake up thinking I have all the time in the world and reading just naturally falls on the bottom of the list. That said this year, this summer, there's just too much I want to read so I need to get a move on. I told myself I wouldn't buy any more books till I've finished the 12 on the TBR but I'm dying, actually dying to read Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo Lodge. And, about 5 other books have also just popped up on my radar. So I'm now in a mad rush to finish everything! 
  •  Blog. Again, probably a given. But this summer, I really want to work on the film side of this blog which has been neglected for a long while. I found it harder to make creative film posts quickly so I had to take a step back and plan how I'd revamp. I've got a few ideas floating around now so expect some new film posts from next week! I'm excited.
  • Food writing! Random, right? I used to love food writing and creating recipes and, I've started doing it again. At the moment I'm just doing it for myself but I may share one day, who knows. 
  • Go to a Lit Event/Festival. As in, literature ๐Ÿ˜…. I'm eyeing one up at the moment and the people over at Mostly Lit will be there so I really want to go. It's just annoying because all these events are always in London so I'm currently working out the logistics/money side of it all.
  • Newsletter? I think I want to start a newsletter! I don't know. We'll see.
  • Dissertation. I know, I know. Imagine. Uni is making us work on our dissertations over the summer but I'm grateful because at least it'll be a bit of a head start. Currently having a little bit of a crisis because I can't do the question I really wanted to do - *le cry* but overall, grateful. 
  • Grammar. Moving to France has really motivated me to make sure my French grammar is on.point by the time I start uni again so I've been really working on it lately.
  • Work! I got a really fun job lined up in a summer school :)  
  • Holidayy. I'm going away for a week  with my friend from the States who I literally last saw, nearly two years ago. I'll post more on that soon enough but hype hype hype.
  • France. I'm planning to go back for a week and eat all the brioche, croissants aux amandes and Pomme/Vanille compottes to my heart's content.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

ร€ bientรดt!

I had no idea what to expect going into the year abroad and it's been no secret that it wasn't always smooth sailing. But now that my time in France has come to an end, I'm so sad it's over! About an hour before getting on that Gatwick plane it dawned, I mean properly dawned on me; that my French was bad, my public speaking skills were bad and my memories of school were pretty much all bad - definitely not an ideal situation for an insecure, anxiety filled individual on their way to teach teenagers in France for 8 months. And yet, so much good came out of my move!

  • I didn’t know it at the time but I needed a year out from uni to reset. I love university (admittedly more when I'm not there and can appreciate it from afar) but I've always felt swamped by the workload and trying to balance that with everything else. It takes a physical and emotional toll and I just felt like university was happening to me. With a year out, it was super nice to not have to worry about any of that and, actually remember what life is about: brioche, almond croissants and Netflix. ๐Ÿ–’๐Ÿ–’
  • My confidence drastically improved; I'm telling you, fake it to you make it actually works. On Day Two, I was left alone in front of 16 16 year olds so as you can imagine, I didn't really have time to gradually get comfortable in talking to groups of people.  This ended up being was a blessing in disguise because I really had to push my myself early on, which sped up the confidence process.
  • I feel like an  adult. Moving out to live and work full time in another country demands a whole other level of independence that wasn't necessarily required of me when I moved out to uni. You can't reach your parents as easily, you can't just go home when you want and, you're treated as an adult in the workplace.
  • Small town living ๐Ÿ’— I lived in a town called Les Herbiers in Vendรฉe and ngl, first day I was like, never seen so much green space in my life and I'm not crazy about it. There are only 2 buses that leave the town every day and there isn't a train station so it's just not that easy to leave unless you have a car. In the beginning when I wasn't settling in, I did feel really alone and trapped. And in hindsight, that feeling was linked to not knowing anyone. Once I made friends, I really appreciated living in a small town! Everything is so cute and dainty and! the slower pace of life and sense of community is something you can't always find in a city. And I miss my local bakery. Sigh.
  • Friends ๐Ÿ’— I made some great friendships! 
  • I have a new appreciation for teaching. Not that I didn't before but seeing more of the teaching side of things made me realise how hard it is to teach well! Sidetrack - I also learnt that teachers are like some of the gossipiest people ever like wowwowwow who knew?!
  • And I've fallen in love with France! What a country. The language (once you can semi speak it :L), the food, the people - it's a beautiful and really unrated place and I can't wait to go back!


Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla

The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla, is a collection of essays by 20 something BAME writers including Riz Ahmed, Himesh Patel, Bim Adewunmi; about what it means to be an immigrant/person of colour/ethnic minority in the UK today. What it’s like to be the only POC in your community; the significance of your name , your hair to your identity; stereotypes – are all subjects that come up more than once. As the essays draw on personal experiences, not only do the writers have contradictory opinions but, each theme is dealt with completely differently. Some comedic , others more academic, a couple of travel pieces thrown in there which altogether; showed just how complex race and identity are.

I’ve had this this post has been sitting in drafts for months now because the book had such an impact on me and I wanted to do it justice if I was ever going to talk about it. Well, months went by and I'd put too much pressure on myself and alas, I couldn’t write a cohesive review. So I did what I do best - I made a list. Here are just a few of the best things about The Good Immigrant.

- Some of the essays genuinely made me laugh out loud (shout out to Riz Ahmed’s essay #LOLS - I hope you have FOMO right now, go and read it), a couple made me very emotional, angry at times I think that more or less reflects the experiences of a POC. Sometimes I experience casual racism and the only response I have, is to laugh how ridiculousness it is. And then there are days where, you can't laugh it off. And when thinking back to those days is still painful to think about. The reading experience truly reflects this living one.

- Musa Okwana writes: “Society deems us bad immigrants – job stealers, benefit-scroungers, girlfriend-thieves, refugees – until we cross over in their consciousness, through popular culture, winning races, baking good cakes, being conscientious doctors, to become good immigrants.”
What joins the essays together is this idea of how people of colour, immigrants are “othered” by our own society and only accepted when we have something to offer. Essentially immigrants are just people, living our lives with a much higher standard put on us. As we're not white, we seem to have something to prove, and even when we prove it, we’re the exception not the rule and never truly accepted. Though I know this to be true, I haven't really seen the immigrant experience explained in such a  black and white way - pun intended.

- “ I have three voices … I talk in Guj-lish my normal voice and white literary part. I don't know whether my normal voice where I feel most comfortable, most safe, even feels like me anymore. I've splintered into personas.” – Nikesh Shukla

I read that with an ๐Ÿ˜ฏface because I have 5000 voices tooooo?! I'll explain. When I was 8 and realised that a) I was the only black person in my school apart from my brother and b) I had a very strong Ghanaian accent which made me stand out even more, I whited up that situation and quickly adopted an accent for school. And then over time my genuine accent changed as did the one I put on in that, it was no longer intentional. And yet the voice I use to talk to myself is a weird mesh of all of them? So now, I have like 3 accents I use interchangeably without thinking about it.

Now, I have NEVER heard anyone talk about this - I thought it was just me. And there were many other moments like this. I know that our identity is shaped by what we go through but understanding how and articulating it even to yourself can be hard and frustrating, especially when you can’t understand why you are the way you are. Being able to relate to so many of these essays helped me to understand myself– which ๐Ÿ‘is ๐Ÿ‘why ๐Ÿ‘we๐Ÿ‘ need ๐Ÿ‘more ๐Ÿ‘diversity๐Ÿ‘ in ๐Ÿ‘literature! Anyways.

I learnt a lot. I felt like I was listening to other people and learning about the experiences of other POC in the UK. Simple. There are people from other ethnic minorities whose struggles I hadn’t given much thought too.

The Good Immigrant has been doing really well and it's so well deserved. But I still feel disappointed when I hear people things along the lines of  “ it's a really important book given our political climate".  Its as if listening to the experiences of POC is this topical thing.  It makes you woke, it gets you retweets. Racism obviously didn’t start in 2016 + these writers are writing from a lifetime of experiences. So I reckon it should just be considered, necessary, required reading from now on. I'm also super excited because it has paved the way for many more books like it!



Saturday, 20 May 2017

Nasty Women

A day after Donald Trump called Hilary Clinton a "nasty woman"; every man, woman and child showed up on Twitter because  we'd all  rather be "nasty" and carefree ๐Ÿ˜Ž than whatever it is Trump expects women to be. The people (an independent publisher in the UK) over at 404 Ink took note and, got a kickstarter going to  put out a book written by women, on what it's like to be a woman in the 21st century. Months later and voila, here it is - Nasty Women, a collection of essays, interviews and accounts by fearless women who are unapologetically themselves.

This book of course does not and cannot account for every woman's experience in the 21st century and kind-of-low-key-claims-to-do-so. All these women are British and many of them are based in Scotland which is worth bearing in mind. That said, the book really tries to be representative. Even as a woman with my own experiences, this book was a window into so many more. My at times ignorance and preconceptions were definitely checked in the reading of this book. There are essays about race, visibility, class, culture, politics, family, religion, disabilities, contraception, the workplace - and many  if not all the essays, are intersectional.

Not so long ago, I went through a "thing" where I wasn't being treated fairly and in speaking up about it, I was labelled as "difficult". At the time I actually really beat myself up about it because I hate being perceived as being as an unpleasant individual. And that's the issue! We've been conditioned to be "nice" all the time. Speaking up or challenging or questioning things or not smiling or not being a sized  aren't what nice girls do. And because we've been so conditioned to feel this way, these labels "nasty","difficult" are used to silence us.  Because apparently the worse thing that could've happen to me, was being called difficult. Honestly the freedom when you realise how silly this all is is like nothing else.

Like the glorious day on Twitter :') this book reclaims the "nasty woman" label just by presenting intelligent, opinionated, female voices.


Monday, 15 May 2017

What's On Your Bookshelf? with Laura from Two Paper Girls. We chat Booktube, Fantasy + Graphic Novels !

Halo all. I'm back doing another one of these chats, this time with Laura. Laura is one half on Two Paper Girls, a Booktube channel set up by herself and best friend Amy. I first heard about their channel through the grapevine at university two years ago and I've been watching ever since!

It's a channel I go to for recommendations because unlike quite a few Booktube channels, this one doesn't really have a niche. Laura and Amy read pretty widely which is quite nice because what I read next, depends on how I'm feeling and there's something for everyone on the channel. So before we talked about books, I was pretty excited Laura even agreed to do this chat so ya know, I had to get all my low-key fan girl questions about her channel out of the way first! 

What made you decide to start Two Paper Girls?
“Amy and I have been best friends since primary school and we’ve always liked reading so we sort of inspired each other to start. I'd started watching a lot of YouTube and discovered Booktube. We both thought it looked fun and thought, why not make our own?. And because my dad and brother had the equipment, we just thought we’d try it one day. We both really liked it and it sort of stuck!"

And what type of videos do you like to film?
"Challenge videos are so much fun to film! Like, we did this blindfold challenge and it was such a laugh. They don't seem to get as many hits but we always have a laugh filming them."

You're both at uni and running a YouTube channel, do you find it hard to balance the two?
“We've sort of got into a rhythm with it so it's not too bad no. We film once every two weeks and plan which four videos to film. It can take a while but it’s not so bad. It helps that there are two of us because we take turn with editing which actually, is what takes a while. Uploading can take hours." 

Now I don't have a YouTube channel but I remember Zoe Sugg or Alfie saying once it can take 2-3 to edit a video so, much respect.

Would you say you read a lot?
"I think it depends on "a lot". There are booktubers that read way more than I do and some people read a lot less. I read maybe 4 books a month but it depends with uni work and all the reading I have to do for my course." FYI Laura studies under grad English (a course I nearly chose :') ).

What are you reading at the moment?
Lady Chatterley's Lover by DH Lawrence "I'm doing a DH Lawrence module for my course and it's [Lady Chatterley's Lover] nowhere near as scandalous as its reputation! I guess it was at the time but it's basically just about an affair."

We did get chatting about DH Lawrence whose books, if you didn't know, had a reputation I believe for writing what was considered to be 'unconventional' at the time given that he explored themes such as female sexuality. "He used the ‘c’ word and wrote about sex and violence a lot! But he’s definitely not an author of erotica, but his characters are in touch with their sexuality." I'm actually not the biggest fan of classics bar Shakespeare (I know, gross overgeneralising) but I can never really connect with the characters or settle into the style. But after Laura talked about Sons and Lovers, I was intrigued and slipped it onto my TBR. 

"It's about a family in a mining town in Nottingham. We first follow the character of Gertrude Morel when she marries below her social class for passion but her husband is actually quite violent and temperamental. She has 4 children and becomes very attached to the two eldest sons. The perspective then shifts to her second son, Paul Morel, as he tries to find love despite his overprotective mother and difficult upbringing. It’s a great classic because the characters feel very human and real. Even though they’re not all likeable, and do some terrible things, you understand their motivation and it’s a really engaging read!"

Was there a time in your life you'd say you started reading?
“Probably when I was about 9 and I started reading all the Animal Ark series. And then I found the Harry Potter series which also means a lot to me.  I probably started reading them when the 6th book came out, and it was the first time I was fully part of a fandom.”

Guys, wasn’t the animal section at your primary school library ๐Ÿ”ฅ ? It can't just be me?! Also! I too remember the first time being fully fledged into a fandom :') It was Twilight and I feel like now, we’re all just embarrassed by our collective overreaction to the books and the film and Taylor Lautner , but the series itself was good, come on. And while I too, loved loved loved Harry Potter, I haven’t liked any fantasy since and I’ve tried.

So what would you say someone should read to ease themselves into the fantasy genre?

"Well The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss has magic school elements so if you liked Harry Potter, it’s a bit like that in that sense. But it's quite high-epic fantasy though and that can be quite hard, maybe a better recommendation for those interested in the genre is the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas! I also really liked Peter Pan by J.M Barrie– the story itself of course has is fantasy by it’s actually quite dark and I really enjoyed it.

Then there’s The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare – don’t watch the film, the film was awful and they changed so much! But the books are really good. I love The Lord of the Rings and the films too but again,  that’s more epic fantasy.”

I also want to talk about a genre that not enough people talk about on Book tube but, I’d seen pop up on this channel in hauls … comic books! I don’t talk about them enough but I’m a comic book fan. The art is often beautiful but so different for each comic, the plot lines an be sharp and witty in a way that just can’t be found in novels. They also don’t take that long to read ! “And the weirdest things can happen in comic books that can’t really happen in books. You can just do the wackiest things and have really over the top humour - like in Rat Queens or Giant Days. And this kind of thing works so well in comics but not necessarily in anything else.” Yes๐Ÿ’—

We got into talking about how comic books really push the boundaries, and portray genres in a way that is so different to other mediums of literature. I read mainly Marvel and DC but even within those, are so many genres and it’s a different type of creativity all together. And even if you don’t like superheros, know that there are now comics about crime, horror, biographical, historical, mental health – it’s not all Spiderman.

Current Comic Books on Laura's Shelf:   
Spider Gwen Volume 1, Watchmen - "both on the TBR!"

Volume 2 of Giant Days “It’s about a university set in England and it’s just nice to read about university students, you don’t see that very often. It’s also quite funny.”

Rat Queens –“It’s so much fun! It’s diverse, feisty and has a really strong portrayal of female friendships.”

Rapid [ish] Fire Round

Who are your Instaread author/s?
“Anything by John Green for sure. … Ian McKewan though he’s more more of an Instabuy writer for me. I think I read Atonment back in sixth form and loved it, so now I  just buy everything he brings out, but haven’t read them yet. His latest one is a modern Shakespeare retelling and it looks really good so I think I’ll read that soon. J.K Rowling maybe, though The Casual Vacancy wasn’t that great ... And VE Schawb – again it’s more Instabuy with her. I keep hearing people talk about her books on YouTube and keep buying them!

What do you plan on reading next?
"The Penguin by Tom Michellanother animal book! I’ll start it after all my coursework’s out of the way. It should be fun and light reading."

Best book of the year so far?
I have LOVED A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – it’s a beauty and the beast retelling with sexy faeries! It’s got a really interesting plot and I’ve heard great things about the rest of the series! Also I finished This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab which was awesome! A really dark book full of monsters that are created through violent human acts and an unlikely friendship which, refreshingly, doesn’t turn into a romance! And I'll add On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher – It’s whimsical, magical and I did cry at the end."

Thank youuu Laura for this chat, was the dream :')  Make sure to check out Two Paper Girls and subscribe! 


Friday, 12 May 2017

TV Review: 13 Reasons Why

The Netflix show 13 Reasons Why is based on Jay Asher's YA book and is about Hannah Baker; a teenage girl who commits suicide and leaves behind 13 audio recordings; one for each person she believes was the reason she ended her life. The tapes are passed to each person and we find them with Clay, who comes back from school one day to find them at his doorstep. Hannah was the new girl at her high school and as the episodes progress, we learn more about her school experience and we sort of see through her eyes, how she feels she was wronged by these people. She was a victim of slut shaming, bullying, public humiliation, witnessing a rape, being raped, and being majorly let down by her "friends". The whole show is portrayed through a string of flashbacks as Clay follows Hannah's trail to find out what was really happening to her at school, why he has a tape and why she dies. Unsurprisingly her suicide, and these tapes really badly affect those she sends them to.

The acting itself that phenomenal and on that front, the show has a very afternoon Lifetime TV feel. I give props to show for giving us such a diverse cast full of new talent. That said, perhaps the show didn't really require strong performances because the very nature of the script, is so emotionally draining, that it naturally distracts from the often mediocre cast. Dylan Minnette however who plays Clay, carries the show through for the most part, giving a compelling performance as a student who is uncovering these dark experiences his close friend had, his possible contribution to her death, while clearly struggling with his own mental health . The latter isn't really brought to the forefront of the plot but I think is integral in forming and understanding his character and so, I felt required a lot more of a nuanced performance, which he executed very well.

What the show also handles well, is its depiction of  bullying, slut shaming, the difficulty in finding loyal friends and, the debilitating effect that these experiences can have on someone. These were clearly well researched and deftly handled. It doesn't take away from the fact though that the show makes a spectacle of suicide.

The premise itself; leaving essentially elaborate, very creative suicide notes to every person who you believe is the reason you're ending your life, is problematic and best, sadistic at worst. But given Hannah's state of mind I can understand or at least reason with it. Though a flawed character, Hannah really grew on me as the season progressed. And yet we're not given any space to mourn her death or really digest what how tragic this suicide because from episode 1, we the audience are on "trail" to find out why Hannah kills herself and "who" is to blame. Each episode, the tapes reach different individuals and though some (others didn't 'deserve' a tape) wronged her, all are battling their own issues. The show dabbles almost in being a psychological thriller as it becomes about how each tape pushes each "receiver", further over the edge.

Every episode we get closer to who is really to blame and in doing so, the  show completely ignores the most obvious answer, that Hannah is ultimately responsible for her own death. While others contributed to her depression, it is Hannah who takes her life. And the final episode does entertain this line of reasoning, but it is ultimately cast aside and we leave the season with the conclusion that responsibility for Hannah's death lies squarely on the shoulders of these teenagers. The overall message becomes - treat people with compassionate (fair enough), if you so much as even slip up and they kill themselves, it'll be your fault.

Everyone, particularly Clay, leaves the season almost "at peace" and coming to terms with his said responsibility for her death. Which as a show, is so irresponsible given its target audience, are young people struggling with mental health problems. As if to say that you can somehow if you 're depressed and if other people have contributed to the way you feel or look at yourself, you can avenge yourself by taking your own life. In Hannah still essentially "living" through these tapes, there is something to be gained from taking your life.

I'm trying not to leave spoilers but there is one scene I have to talk about: Hannah's suicide. We witness the entire process: picking the weapon, the actual suicide, her final thoughts, watching her die and her parents finding her body. These scenes were shot so cinematically, so detailed and were so visceral in a way that made them so so unnecessarily graphic.  Producers claim that they made this show to help people with depression and those who've considered suicide. And yet these are the very people, who shouldn't be watching this show. "Research shows that exposure to another person's suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of death, can be one of the many risk factors that youth struggling with mental health conditions cite as a reason they contemplate or attempt suicide."

I'll admit the show makes for addictive viewing but not for the right reasons. And I'm not happy. Yes because so many people are watching the show, we're having and engaging in conversations about mental health, perhaps far more than we were before. But there are TV shows (few though they exist) such as The Fosters that deal with issues such as rape, bullying, teenage identity, depression and so on, far better in a way that inspires hope.


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Missing University

I haven't been at uni this year because of the year abroad and while this has been an incredible opportunity and if you get the chance you should totes do it ... I've struggled. I've just noticed my mental health has properly plummeted over the last year, which got me thinking about firstly how important community is (cringe but ya know, true). There's something about being plugged into uni life, even when it felt like it was sweeping me away, it was still a healthy distraction. It also got me thinking about  all the things I bitterly miss about uni life and everything I took for granted ! The novelty I imagine will wear off after week 3 but anywho:

1. the campus - it's so beaut and was a big factor in me choosing my university. I don't have photos but take my word for it. We have swans and lakes and benches and lots of trees - it is very nice.

2. learning - only now realising how bloody fantastic my course is! So many cool modules, great lectures (I actually enjoyed most of my lectures and sometimes, even, left feel inspired ?! and grateful I even got in to such a great uni. okay this bracket is very long) and all those course friends you don't talk to outside of the lecture hall - i miss them too :') And not to sound like an eager beaver but I love learning, having work to do all the time and concrete goals to reach. This year, I've sort of felt like an aimless wanderer with not a lot of purpose ... I don't feel like I'm doing anything. You don't realise how great that lack of sleep mixed with caffeine and course anxiety is, until it's gone :') (Jokes)

3. societies. I take for granted how many societies we have. I've been wanting to go to Lego Soc since Freshers but keep putting it off because I can't find a friend to go with - I know, lame. ... Maybe Lego Soc is lame. But it dawned on me that I could leave university and never meet another grown ass person who likes Lego when meanwhile, there is a room filled with Lego lovers somewhere on campus.

4. having people around you all the time. being so geographically close to your friends. ๐Ÿ’—And all the chats I had with my 2 flatmates till 2am. And also after university, when else in life are you ever going to have such a large network of people around you? Even if you're not making life long pals, when else in your life are you going to have access to that many people around you?! I'd say my uni is a really friendly one too - maybe i'm just thinking that because I've been gone a year and can't remember. But in general if you want to talk to someone, you don't have to look so far.


Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Weekend Edit

Haaalo once again.  This weekend has been a fun one because, I've had stuff to do! I went on a walk, it was my friend's 25th partay and, I'm heading out to a shoe museum in a couple of hours. I'm also thinking I'm going to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 tomorrow. If you didn't know, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1 is my all time fave MCU film so I have been WAITING for this one. I also have recommendations for you that I've been proper loving. Like, I've been so excited to write this post because I've accumulated some goood stuff.


Mostly Lit Podcast
Like, every episode ever. Before the only time I listened to Mostly Lit was when I was going to bed. In fact I did that with every podcast except Back Row Films and Kermode and Mayo .. until now?! I've stopped watching TV/films while I eat, instead choosing to catch up on podcasts and not be infront of a screen all day. And that's when I listened to Mostly Lit properly for the first time and oh my goodness. Mostly Lit is a podcast with three black 20 somethings from London. They discuss the intersection of literature and politics and popular culture and I love listening to them! The level of conversation is . I'm not the most articulate person and I normally need a lot of words to get my point across (hence why I like blogging because I can take time to edit stuff I say).These three are incredibly articulate and intelligent and reflective and all round woke group of young people. The episodes I re-listened to were Black Boys Don't Read and The God's Must Be Crazy - so start here.

Melanin Millenials - 
The hosts, Imrie and Satia are two black women from London who dissect popular culture, history , race, politics and, also talk about what it means to be a millenial in the UK today. Again, the podcast gives you thought provoking conversation while being so funny at the same time. I hate writing down that something is "funny", it's such a lazy, watered down adjective but I legit  choked on my dinner about 3 nights ago listening to an episode, because I was laughing so much. Their banter, all the shade the throw around at everyone, I think you just feel part of the convo too, ya know? Well if you don't go and listen. There are so many I hadn't listened to, so I've been catching up and I keep getting excited about competitions and events I can sign up to, only to find that they've already happened lol.

Anna Faris is Unqualified. ep 68 Sharon Stone
FYI. Anna Faris is an actress, she starred in The House Bunny, she's done alot of voicework, she's in one of my favourite rom-coms , she's in a show called Mom. She's like the most earnest, unintentionally funny person and, a great podcast host.

On this podcast she has a celebrity and they chit chat a bit, they play these scenario games and then she has a few callers, who ask her and the celebrity for advice to their real life problems. They genuinely try to give good advice but oh my word, this episode with Sharon Stone is one of the most memorable. Sharon Stone gave the most incredible advice. There were two callers and she was like analysing them and asking them questions and pulling out these possibly deep rooted issues that noone had even considered. She is a fountain of wisdom and I'm not exaggerating Sharon Stone talks like a therapist and it took everyone on the panel and I'm sure many listeners like myself by surprise.   Wowzers.

Crash On My Couch 
Now that I'm listening to podcasts in the day, I needed a podcast I could fall asleep to. And Crash On My Couch is that podcast - in the best way possible. It's Arden Rose and Will Darbyshire from YouTube and authoring and all the other cool stuff they do. And its meant to be a podcast about navigating your 20's? I think it's more just random conversations with a some caller quetsions at the end, if I'm being honest, but that makes for good listening. So far they've talked about nude perfomance art, bad dates, Pixar conspiracy theories ... you get the gist. They're such a sweet duo and they both have really theraputic voices. It's like listening in on a quirky couple's convo on the bus. That's actually exactly what it is.

I've ofcourse been reading blog posts but nothing that's really caught my attention. I have however been really enjoying Nettle & Blackberry as a blog in it's entirety. It's a lifestyle blog and I like that she gives little snippets into her life and what's going on - they're my favourite types of blogs to read. I've mentioned both of these before and won't stop !, Sarah's blog Sciwitch is good for those sorts of posts as is Becloumar.


Whether it be her blog posts or YouTube videos, I think I've mentioned Cruelty Free Becky in every one of these Weekend Edits and this post is no exception. Her most recent video is on 'Spring Trends done Sustainably' and I recommend you watch it. This channel has taught me that there are many ways of being cruelty free and being environment conscious. And that it's not that hard to make small changes.

Gabes and Anna
What a couple. They're doing this 3 part series about their decision to abstain from sex before getting married. So far they have a video on the why and how behind this decision. For people who maybe don't understand really why some Christians choose to abstain. It's really a faith filled decision and never because we think sex is "bad" and "virginity" whatever that is, is "good". In the same way that society judges especially women who choose to have sex, people can also be a bit judgy when you choose not to, because many think your decision not to, is in itself, a judgement on someone else. Anyway this is a good series because I think they lay out they "why" very clearly and non judgmentally - because it isn't :) . I've made my point I think.

Chelsea Handler Season 2
I think I said this last time, I can't remember but I love the political turn that this show has taken. She has politicians on every week and she now has celebrities who are actively engaged in politics and they discuss and dissect anything that's happened that week. She had Tracee Ellis Ross, Rosario Dawson and Aisha Tyler this Friday.

I've also really been enjoying Neighbours (Australian soap opera in case you didn't know) and I'm giving them a shout out because, it's been consistently solid for about 2 months. Leo and Amy finally get together after about a year, only to find out they're related?! Are Piper and Tyler growing further apart?! And Paige is having a baby with a priest! But she's also moved back in with Mark so I'm think something is going to happen there?! I'm also thinking you don't watch Neighbours and have no idea what I'm talking about. That's okay.

Enjoy your weekend,  it's another long one wohooo! xo


Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

“Why do we want to kill all the broken people? ... I don’t do what I do because I have to, because I’ve been trained to. I do what I do because I’m broken too. You cannot defend condemned people without being broken.”- Bryan Stevenson

The author, Bryan Stevenson is an African American lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, to defend those within marginalised groups, who often can't get legal representation. to defend those who are marginalised and so often can't get legal representation. He talks mainly about an early case of his - one Walter McMillan, an African American man wrongly convicted and put on death row for the murder of a white woman.

Walter's story is the one we follow for the most part as Stevenson tries to investigate, interviewing "witnesses", to get Walter off death row. Stevenson uses this case, along with others,  to unravel and analyse the American justice system which, is robustly set up against and, to fail marginalised groups while completely disregarding the issues and systems in place that drive them to prison in the first place. And then when they get there, they're denied basic human rights.

Going into this, I knew the justice system was messed up. Like, we all kind of know that right? We've seen Reggie Yates documentaries, we've seen Making a Murderer (well I personally haven't but haven' I couldn't get into it but a bunch of y'all have) and especially in the UK and the States;  I understood we have an unspoken "lock them up and throw away the key" policy, particularly if you're of colour or poor - the justice system has no time for you. But even then, after reading this book, I realise that what I thought I knew - the actual details - were very hazy.

Well, Just Mercy was uncomfortably informative. He intertwines the details of these cases with research and statistics which reveal this really horrifying and confronting picture of our justice systems and where they're heading. He talks about abuse towards women, men and even children  - facts of which were shocking as in, there are many children as young as 13 being held in adult prisons where they become subject to abuse that pushes them to suicide. He talks about how statistically more likely you are to find yourself in prison if you're poor, black or just don't have the ability articulate yourself to the authorities, because of a lack of education.  People being encouraged (often forced) to take plea deals, the treatment of the mentally ill in prison, mass incarceration, lawyers in it for the money, officers under pressure to solve cases in limited time - the list goes on. And while I felt like I had to really concentrate when reading this because all these details form the bigger picture, I knew I hadn't even scratched the surface regarding the scale of the problem.

Just Mercy is a heavy read. A lot of it was so hard to swallow and I did have to go back and re-read chunks of it because I needed the space and time to digest it. And yet it is written in such a compelling, engaging and compassionate way. I think we often think of prisoners as these faceless people, without any humanity. Intellectually, I know it's not the case but when I think of prisoners, I think everyone's there because they're despicable people who broke the law and deserve it. It's a really embarrassing, lazy and dangerous way to think about people which is why, it was so powerful to humanise everyone he talks about. Stevenson provides background into their situations, talks about their family and loved ones and maybe most importantly tells us their names.

Reading this book made me really angry. I do read a lot (especially recently) that has made me angry but this was the kind of anger I couldn't shake off. It had an affect on me in a way I can't quite describe but when I finished, I couldn't read anything else. After going on this journey with everyone we meet in the book and then having to leave them behind - but now knowing and understanding the scale of the problem and, that there are so many more is hard. And I'm so thankful that I know now. I'll also add that the selflessness of Bryan Stevenson, his initiative, and others like it who work tirelessly and give so much of themselves for those who don't have a voice is inspiring and; it says that there is hope and just by being aware we can do more.

Someone on Goodreads said "this is a book for anyone interested in and/or concerned about the American system of justice." Yes it is but it honestly has so much more to say about our own humanity, how we understand and treat people and our understanding of justice and mercy. Such an important read and I urge you to pick it up.


Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon + a few of my favourite quotes

"Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?"

I'm going to keep this review short; I'm just here to make you aware of Nicola Yoon (who also wrote Everything, Everything ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’–) anddd, her latest book!

The Sun is Also a Star is set in one day and is about Natasha, a Jamaican teen living in the States with her family and Daniel, a Korean American. The two meet by accident - Daniel would probably say it was fate - on a day that is pretty important for the both of them. He's up for an interview for a place at Yale that he essentially doesn't want but has been coerced into by his parents. Meanwhile Natasha is seeking legal counsel after finding out her family are being deported to Jamaica. As I said, they meet my accident and due to spoilery reasons I won't go into, end up spending the day together. He believes this is the closest he's ever felt to love at first sight and tries to make her fall in love with him and shes a naysayer who doesn't believe in love. It's very conversation heavy basically because Nicola Yoon gives them a day o seriously get to know each other and, for us to get to know them and care about them. But it's not as stale as it sounds! There are so many other themes intertwined into this story and the fabric of their conversations:  family, science, history, identity, betrayal and race. I still can't believe everything that happens, happens in a day because she manages to give each theme enough space and impact while delivering this really raw, real, 3 dimensional, slow burning romance. Oh and did I mention? All set in a day.

The dialogue. It was just so rich and smart and complex yet subtle and reflective and at times funny, at times heavy going, all at once! It was all of these things!

Natasha and Daniel are these really well drawn, flawed and fully human characters and I think even if you don't "like" them, you'll be routing for them till the very last page. I also really appreciated Nicola Yoon's handling of race and how the way others see us, can affect our own sense of personal identity. It was never the agenda of the story either, it's just deftly woven into their respective stories - in the same way their reflections and experiences and the way they see the world would be, were they real life teenagers of colour.  There's a lot of show, not tell which takes craft.


As I'm sure it's pretty clear from this post, I was also in awe of Nicola Yoon's writing. So, I'm going to leave you with some of my favourite quotes from the book but ya know, totes read the book yourself too. 

"Maybe part of falling in love with someone else is also falling in love with yourself.” 

“Growing up and seeing your parents' flaws is like losing your religion. I don't believe in God anymore. I don't believe in my father either.” 

“We're kindling amid lightning strikes, a lit match and dry wood, fire danger signs and a forest waiting to be burned.” 

"I think all the good parts of us are connected on some level. The part that shares the last double chocolate chip cookie or donates to charity or gives a dollar to a street musician or becomes a candy striper or cries at Apple commercials or says I love you or I forgive you. I think that's God. God is the connection of the very best parts of us.” 

“If people who were actually born here had to prove they were worthy enough to live in America, this would be a much less populated country.” 

“love is just chemicals and coincidence.” 

“For most immigrants, moving to the new country is an act of faith. Even if you've heard stories of safety, opportunity, and prosperity, it's still a leap to remove yourself from your own language, people, and country. Your own history. What if the stories weren't true? What if you couldn't adapt? What if you weren't wanted in the new country?” 

“I am really not a girl to fall in love with. For one thing, I don’t like temporary, nonprovable things, and romantic love is both temporary and nonprovable.” 

“I guess I'm more interested in why people feel they have to believe in God. Why can't it just be science? Science is wondrous. The night sky? Amazing. The inside of a human cell? Incredible. Something that tells us we're born bad and that people use to justify all their petty prejudices and awfulness? I dunno. I guess I believe in science. Science is enough.”
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