I’ll Give You The Sun (Jandy Nelson)

This is a bit different than my other reviews because I actually listened to this book on CD instead of reading a hard copy. I’m not usually a fan of listening to books on CD; most people I know listen to them in their car, but I get distracted too easily, miss sentences, and feel like I lose too much of the story. I’ve been having trouble getting my hands on a physical copy of this book so I decided to give the CD form a go and…holy cow. This kept my rapt attention; there were even times I sat in my car for upwards of an hour after I got home because I could not. stop. listening. I would have to read it again to know for sure, but I think this is one of my favorite books I’ve read ever.

Title – I’ll Give You The Sun

Author – Jandy Nelson

Page count – 371 (13 hours, 3 min)

Goodreads rating – 5/5 (it was amazing!)

**NO spoilers – this beautiful story needs to unfold all on its own** Continue reading “I’ll Give You The Sun (Jandy Nelson)”

The World Will Follow Joy (Alice Walker)

As promised in my review of milk and honey, I will continue to read more poetry this year. Here’s a lovely little collection from the legendary Alice Walker.

Title – The World Will Follow Joy: Turning Madness Into Flowers

Author – Alice Walker

Page count – 189

Goodreads rating – 3/5 (liked it)

(As a side note, I sometimes worry that if I give a book “only” three stars out of five, it will be seen as a negative review of that particular book. I’m especially conscious of that with this book because I also gave a 3/5 rating to Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. For me, a 3/5 rating means that while I don’t necessarily want to read it again – if I did, that would merit a bump up to 4/5 – I am definitely glad I read it and would likely recommend it to a friend.)

This collection of poems started off a bit slow but grew on me as I got further along. Walker uses her spirituality and politically progressive voice to write about the collective human experience, about the good that comes from treating each other with empathy and the terrible consequences of forgetting to see our own humanity reflected in other people. Always in the background (and sometimes the foreground) is her grounded spirituality and love for the earth. Continue reading “The World Will Follow Joy (Alice Walker)”

Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

The one complaint I have about this book is that the paper isn’t cut straight across. It’s that sort of roughly ruffled edge that makes it hard to quickly flip the pages.

That’s it. That’s the only fault I can find with this book.

Title – Americanah

Author – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Page count – 477 (A relatively hefty read, but the pace never drags)

Goodreads rating – 5/5 (it was amazing)

There’s a reason this book has been recommended to me by so many people. As I said in my review of Adichie’s The Thing Around Your Neck, she has a way of using words to engage all your senses and transport the reader into the moment of the story. And Americanah is no exception. Continue reading “Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)”

Beauty Queens (Libba Bray)

This was a fun read. I’ve heard it described as Lord of the Flies but with teenage beauty queens. But instead of tearing each other to pieces, they work together to overcome the obstacles set before them. Girl power at its finest!

Title – Beauty Queens

Author – Libba Bray

Page count – 390

Goodreads rating – 3/5 (liked it)

**I will NOT give away any major spoilers. Some things may not make sense if you haven’t read it, but I won’t reveal anything important.**

This story begins with a plane crash on what appears to be a deserted island. The plane was full of teenage beauty queens headed Continue reading “Beauty Queens (Libba Bray)”

The Cross and the Lynching Tree (James H. Cone)

It’s been fun carrying this book around with me and reading it between classes because whenever someone casually asks, “oh, what are you reading?” I get to hold up the cover and launch into a (brief) description of how the image of the cross and the image of the lynching tree have been interpreted differently in the black and white churches of America. (This is usually met with polite acknowledgement and probably a silent vow to never ask that question again.)

Hopefully there are some people who are intrigued, though, because this is going on the list of books that have been profoundly formative in my understanding of Christian theology! It is – dare I say – prophetic. And although it did take me awhile to read, I would still say the language is pretty accessible for such an academic topic.

Title – The Cross and the Lynching Tree

Author – James H. Cone

Page count – 166

Goodreads rating – 5/5 (it was amazing!)

As mentioned above, this book examines the parallels between the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross in Rome and the brutal lynching of black people in the United States, and how that parallel imagery has been interpreted by the white and black churches in America. Continue reading “The Cross and the Lynching Tree (James H. Cone)”

Another Brooklyn (Jacqueline Woodson)

This was a beautiful story to explore. I almost feel like my experience is incomplete having only read it once. This is a book that needs to be savored again.

Title – Another Brooklyn

Author – Jacqueline Woodson

Page count – 170

Goodreads rating – 4/5 (really liked it)

I’ll give as much description as I can, but it needs to stay vague to avoid giving anything important away. It’s really better if you discover the secrets and answers for yourself.

This book is fictional prose, but the author’s background in poetry is clearly evident. Our narrator’s name is August, and in this story we learn about her life through current events and flashbacks…but it’s not always immediately clear where we are in time. Continue reading “Another Brooklyn (Jacqueline Woodson)”

Searching for Sunday, or Where is the Jesus I used to know?

I did re-read Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans, but I already wrote a review last year which you can find here. If you are interested in more of RHE’s writing, you can find that here. This post is going to be a little different than my usual book reviews. It is geared more toward friends and family who know me personally, but I hope it will help anyone else who is stunned, appalled, frustrated, grieving, and/or feeling hopeless about things happening in the Christian Church.

The tagline for Searching for Sunday is “loving, leaving, and finding the church.” It uses the sacraments as a structure to chronicle RHE’s relationship with a Christian Church that, instead of welcoming people into a place of hope and love, is leaving people broken, outcast, and feeling distinctly unwelcome. Over the past…couple years, I guess…I, too, have become increasingly distant from the faith I’ve always known, and I want you to know why. Continue reading “Searching for Sunday, or Where is the Jesus I used to know?”