Hi, friends! Happy First Day of August! July is finally over, and I’m happy to be closer to the end of 2020. Anyways, this means another book post from me. Keep reading for my thoughts on all the books I read in July.
PATSY by Nicole Dennis-Benn
This was the first book I read in July, and I have been thinking about Patsy since I finished the book. Patsy comes to America, leaving behind her daughter Tru in Jamaica. When she is reunited with her love Cicely, her dream of happily-ever-after is crushed as Cicely has chosen a life of physical comfort. While Patsy is surviving as an undocumented immigrant in the new country and finding her independence and her true self, her daughter Tru is grappling with her reality of being abandoned by her mother and her identity and sexuality. Nicole Dennis-Been is masterful in her creation and development of characters; I equally empathized with and loved both Patsy and Tru. Though Patsy might seem like a selfish mother on a superficial level, people are complex creatures, and Patsy did an incredible job depicting such.
CLAP WHEN YOU LAND by Elizabeth Acevedo
My introduction to Elizabeth Acevedo was The Poet X, which she narrates like spoken word poetry; because of that book, I was not taken aback by the verse style of Clap When You Land (and it really reads like prose with added visualization). When the plane from New York City to the Dominica Republic carrying Papi crashes with no survivors, his two daughters, who do not know of each others existence, are devastated and separately grieve. The book is narrated by Camino (in the DR) and Yahahira (in NYC) in alternating chapters. As I was reading Clap When You Land, I kept thinking of the word “duality.” Camino and Yahahira’s lives are contrasting, of course, but also Papi himself was. Both of his daughters could not imagine Papi’s life with the “other family”, and I found it so intriguing how he was happy with both while he couldn’t pick one over the other. I read this as a physical book, but I bet the audiobook will be just as fantastic.
LOST CHILDREN ARCHIVE by Valeria Luiselli
I am slowly working through the list of Lily Lit Club picks (which sadly is no more). When I read the front side of the book’s leaf, I pictured a personal story of this hybrid/blended family (mother with her daughter and father with his son) and their falling apart as they travel across the country, the parents in search of different futures. However, this book (from my POV) really is about child migrants–children who are separated from their parents and sometimes disappear. This book picked up for me about two thirds of the way in (the book is not excruciating to read at all, but I was feeling pretty indifferent up to that point), when the boy starts narrating. The boy and the girl go on a mission to find these two missing girls, daughters of the mother’s fiend, who somehow have disappeared from an immigrant detention center. The last part where the boy and the girl’s journey merges with the lost children’s journey across the border was surreal.
AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This is the second book pick for the Salem College Alumnae Book Club, and I was so happy this won the poll (because I obviously voted for it)! There is so much to talk about in Americanah. The story follows Ifemelu and Obineze, young lovers in Nigeria, as their lives diverge when they leave for abroad–Ifemelu studies at an American university while Obienze stays behind before attempting a new life in London and ultimately returning to Nigeria. I absolutely loved this book because it explores so much–the economic situation of and hopelessness many people in Nigeria, life as an an (undocumented) immigrant, a novel experience of racism, and so much more. I cannot recommend this book enough!
ALL ADULTS HERE by Emma Straub
All Adults Here didn’t start out strong for me, but I ended up really enjoying it! The story begins when the grandmother Astrid Strick witnesses a long time acquaintance Barbara get hit by a bus and decides to share her “secret” with her three children. As the book progresses, the Strick family becomes more honest with each other and comes together at the end. Emma Straub expertly describes the subtleties in family dynamics and interfamilial relationships and incorporates topics of sexuality and gender identity. This is not a dramatic story with a very defined plot, but you get to know all of the characters really personally, and I love getting to really hear their voices. It. reminded me of This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel, a story more centered around trans children.
IN FIVE YEARS by Rebecca Serle
Based on the premise of the book, I was expecting the lightheartedness of One Day in December by Josie Silver, but In Five Years delivered some serious emotions. Dannie is a very type A person and has a plan laid out for the next five years. On the night of her engagement to David, she dreams of her life five years in the future, with a different engagement ring, different fiancé, and different apartment in the city. What is more unsettling is when she meets the “dream fiancé” in real life a few years later, as her best friend Bella’s boyfriend. All of this is what you get from the “preview of the book” but the story takes quite a turn (I don’t want to spoil how) and then the five year future is coming together against Dannie’s wishes. This book turned out to be more than a love story. Dannie and Bella’s friendship ended up being the center of the story for me, and knowing what and who you want vs what and who you are supposed to want. This is a pretty short read too!
P.S. Shoutout to Durham County Public Library for implementing socially-distant pickup system for physical books! I had an appointment this morning to pick up some new books to read, and I’m so excited/grateful!
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