"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “Long Division” by Kiese Laymon. The writing immediately places the reader into the story set in Post-Katrina Mississippi. The first begins with a high school freshman called City who is going to be in a national quiz contest. City is also dealing with the bullying from LaVander, a peer who calls him all sorts of derogatory names, although City does not embody any of them.

The second story continues after City becomes a sensation. He goes to live with his grandmother and what follows is an amalgamation of discovery, mystery, and growing up.

I am intrigued by reading a new place as the story is rooted in Mississippi. The writing also has a quick rhythm that stays tonal to how teenagers speak.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

Well, I am in the less than 100 pages away from finishing “With The Fire On High” by Elizabeth Acevedo. Emoni is a high school senior, a mother, and a culinary goddess. Bounded at times by her responsibility as a mother, her fraught relationship with her father, a fragile relationship with Tyrone, her baby’s father, and a budding relationship, Emoni also deals with the trials of impending adulthood. Her bond with ‘Buela is fierce. This novel is juicy. I cannot wait to turn the page. I did not even blink when I saw the book is 388 pages. I want more, like a slice of sweet potato pie. The layers of the novel are succinct and only progress the story. All of the characters have meaning. It has also been a while since I talked to characters in a novel. YA novels are truly doing thangs (yes that’s how I meant to spell that word) simply most novels are not.

Because I am about to finish “With The Fire On High,” my bookmark will be in the novel, “Baltimore Blues,” by Laura Lippman. I listened to Lippman on “Fresh Air with Terry Gross.” I enjoyed learning about her writing process and how Baltimore is a pivotal setting for her novels. I am continuing to find a foot in reading different genres, particularly crime and mystery. I also thought of reading more book series, which I feel Lippman’s writing will be a great start.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?!”

A library I go to has an extraordinary selection of Toni Morrison’s work. I must confess I was challenged reading her novels. While the plot is streamlined, the writing is not spoon fed. It is a preparation to understand the intention of the plot and the character’s wants and motivations rooted in a reality of tragedy. Because of this, I have reserved reading her books. The outpouring of love and remembrance of her work gave me the responsibility, as a lifelong reader and writer, to rediscover her work.

My bookmark is in the novel, “Sula.” Set in Medallion, OH, Sula and Nel were childhood friends who grew into having a bond withstanding the trials and tribulations of becoming young adults. Later in life, their lives veer into different directions, leaving them to understand their lives as individuals. Seeing a review from Playboy that lauds the novel was interesting and eye-opening, given the nature of the magazine. Still, it regards the high esteem of Toni Morrison’s unapologetically fierce writing.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?!”

My bookmark is in the novel, “The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls” by Anissa Gray. When I heard the title, I was immediately curious about the novel. However, the plot seems like the opposite of the title. I also have not finished the book so who knows.

Althea, along with her husband, Proctor, is serving a prison sentence while recalling her upbringing with her sisters, Viola and Lillian, that may have attributed to her predicament. Revelations lead to the need for survival and renewal. The first pages of the novel are a trippy slide with a strong voice. Eventually, the book is in three perspectives of the sisters.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “A Million Junes” by Emily Henry. It reads like a YA version of “Hatfields & McCoys.” June has been told her whole life to stay away from the Angert family. Do not breathe their name. If you are in the middle of a sundae and an Angert walks into the shop, throw the ice cream away and leave in the other direction. When Saul Angert, who is older than June, starts to make a connection with her, June begins to rebel from the narrative she has known about the Angert family.

Reading the novel, I further establish my love for YA. The stories get to business. They are experimental in plot and language yet read as someone simply telling you a story. YA also boasts great secondary characters. This story is no different as Hannah is June’s best friend, who also has a crush on a longtime classmate and is an ambitious high school senior.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “Ruby” by Cynthia Bond. Ephram Jennings was born, raised, and lives in a small town, where every knows each other’s business like it is theirs. Ruby, the title character, is the love of Ephram’s life, the woman he has known his whole life. Ruby leaves their town for New York City to escape the drags of small town life and escape from longing. Ephram on the other hand finds himself in a place where he must choose between his sister who raised him and Ruby.

The words have an incredible flow, illuminating the thoughts and intention of the plot. Setting is rooted well on the page to expand the character’s lives. I am looking forward to how the story unfolds and layers.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is still in the novel, “The Astonishing Color of After” by Emily X.R. Pan. I am on vacation, spending time with family and reading the novel before bed time.

I hope you are continuing to enjoy summer, staying cool, eating ice cream and with a great book!

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark will be in the novel, “The Astonishing Color of After” by Emily X.R. Pan. I have to pick it up from the library. I am cleaning through my TBR (to be read) list on Goodreads. I’ve decided to read fiction in a multitude of genres to take a break from the non-fiction books I have consumed over the years.

After Leigh’s mother died by suicide, she is convinced her mother became a bird. The thought leads to Leigh journeying to Taiwan to spend time with her maternal grandparents and find her mother. She hopes to work through her despair and grieve while coming to terms with revelations, including her crush named Axel.

“Book On It”

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in “The Race Beat” by Gene Roberts & Hank Klibanoff. This Pulitzer-Price winning book details the 50s & 60s era of newspaper publications and how they covered the Civil Rights movement.

The book is immensely thorough. The work journalists did for the story showed the dignity of journalism, even with the atrocious actions of racism. It is interesting in comparison to how the press today covers the news, particularly racism, with clickbait culture and subtly true coverage and reporting.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “Tangerine” by Christine Mangan. Browsing the shelves at my local library, the book spine caught my eye. Reading the first sentence, I knew it would be a good read.

In the story, Alice is spending time in Morocco (a place I am hoping will be my next travel adventure) when she meets John. The first few pages detail the insatiable allure of Tangier as Alice meets John. Later in the story, Alice sees Lucy. The connection between them was bright and for some time has been complicated. When John goes missing, Alice questions her well-being and further her connection to Lucy.

I told myself last year I will read more mystery books. Alas, I have not read many books in the genre that held my attention. Now, I get to pick back up on my word and dig into this story. Also, I am hoping for any reference to where the novel got its title from.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine” by Bebe Moore Campbell. I had never read her work, which seems to be the beauty of being a life long reader. Although I heard of Moore Campbell, I am learning about her writing and impact in my community. I had this same feeling with the author Dorothy West.

The novel is about Armstrong Todd, a fifteen year old Chicagoan who spends a life-changing summer in Mississippi. The first page of the novel is incredibly symphonic and sensual. It sets an indelible tone that leads the story.

"Book On It"

'“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in “Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and The Meaning of Liberty” by Dorothy Roberts. This book has been on my “to-read” shelf for years. In a treacherous political climate of women’s access, or lack thereof, to their body and reproductive health, I found it was finally time to delve into this book.

As the book focuses on black women, there is a heightened part that opens the discussion. Roberts wrote this book over twenty years ago. The information is not new yet affirms the atrocities occurring to black women in their pursuit of life and autonomy of their body.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the same novel as last week. I am on vacation out of the country. As much as I would love to have a suitcase full of books, I decided it was more practical to continue with the book I have. There are many adventures to enjoy where I am.

I hope your summer is beginning wonderfully. May you have lots of great reads in store and new places to read them!

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “The Midwife of Hope River” by Patricia Harman. The first sentence immediately brings you into the story. Patience Murphy is the titular character in the Appalachian Mountains. Through the first few pages of the story, I got the tension of her character as she is escaping her previous life in Pittsburgh although I do not know yet why. This novel is also set in the early 20th century, which did not have the medical advancements most reader are accustomed to now. The tools and knowledge Patience acquires only amplifies how she can deliver children and encourage mothers in a moment of vulnerability and possibility.

So far, the writing is gentle, hopeful, and mysterious. Patience is being presented as a curious and wonderful character in the lonesome of her life and the people she works with as a Midwife.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “Summer of Salt” by Katrina Leno. It did not dawn on me until now that this novel is a beach read and summer is arriving.

Georgina has graduated high school, along with her twin sister Mary, and is about to embark on the next part of her life. No not going to college and leaving the small island where she grew up. She is anticipating her powers that come when women in her family turn eighteen years old. Along with the tribulations of the quaint life Georgina has always known, she is discovering multiple facets of her identity and being an independent young woman.

The YA novel is a wonderful read so far. Georgina as a narrator is fantastic. I feel like I’m walking around with her on the island, smelling the salt, gazing at the stars. Their shenanigans are realistic as young adults.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in “Holy Envy” by Barbara Brown Taylor. I listened to her conversation with Terry Gross on “Fresh Air.” I was intrigued by her career as a professor of religion and prior in parish ministry. Brown Taylor works at a private liberal arts college in the Appalachian Mountains, which already gives a fascinating setting as it is in the Bible Belt.

I have not read many books about faith. I am looking forward to learning about the many religions Brown Taylor features including Judaism and Buddhism.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in “Dying of Whiteness” by Jonathan M. Metzl. He was on the “Why Is This Happening?” podcast with Chris Hayes. The thesis of the book is racial resentment is destroying the American Heartland. White people are voting against their interests in order to preserve their whiteness and politicians who uphold it. In the sea of politically driven books written as of late, exhausting topics surrounding one person, I am interested in reading this book for a different perspective on a demographic that seems to be self-sabotaging for the sake of continuing personal ideals.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in “Parkland: Birth of a Movement” by Dave Cullen. He also wrote “Columbine,” oddly one of my favorite books for its deep reporting of the subjects, the aftermath of the school shooting and heart for the survivors. I expect the same writing for this book, which chronicles survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and their path to launch March for Our Lives, an initiative to prevent gun violence.

If you judge a book by its cover, you will buy this one right away. The cover features a peach sunset with protest signs along a chain link gate with one prominently noting “Never Again” with Florida nearly in the shape of a gun.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “The Living is Easy” by Dorothy West. Cleo Judson is a Southerner turned Northerner living in Boston. She is a fair-skinned black woman, upset by her daughter’s dark skin, in control of her husband, Bart and eager to live in Brookline to showcase her wealth status.

The novel, published in 1948, is timely as colorism, race, class, among other societal topics, are discussed. I was engrossed in the novel about twenty pages in for the world West created for Cleo and her family. Heartbreak, childhood trauma and jealousy are among the themes prevalent in the novel. West’s writing is also incredibly poetic. I quietly reacted with an “uh huh” as I absorb the story. Most of her sentences I read twice in order to understand the depth. The title of the novel is quite telling.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the short story collection, “How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?” by N.K. Jemisin. The title grabbed my attention for a thought-provoking, “why has this question not been asked?” In various articles, I read the innovation of the stories in progressing and opening the imagination about what black life can be. The introduction of this collection is a source for Jemisin’s inspiration and journey for her writing.

Based on the first story, I decided to skim through some stories to understand the essence of the plot. The book is quite long for a short story collection. There is a story titled, “Sinner, Saints, Dragons, and Haints in the City Beneath the Still Waters,” (another wonderful title) about creatures in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I am eagerly waiting to read it. It is the last story of the collection and likely positioned for a great ending.