Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins (Miguel A. De La Torre)

If your Christian theology leads you to a Gospel that is not “Good News” to all – including, and especially, people who live on the margins of society – then it’s not the Gospel.

Title (Year Published) – Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins (2004)

Author – Miguel A. De La Torre

Page count – 264

Rating – Buy/Borrow/Bypass + Goodreads 4/5

Hoo boy. This book got me all riled up. For the last few years – although the last 10 months have amplified things – I’ve been constantly going back and forth between 1) devouring the books/words/testimonies of liberation theologians and valuing the good the Christian Gospel can do when it is enacted in people’s lives in healing, sustaining, life-giving ways, and 2) being consumed by anger at people who claim Christianity yet act in ways and perpetuate systems that oppress the very people the Gospel is supposed to be Good News for – the poor, the sick, the hungry, the homeless. Christians seem to think they can say a prayer and forget that we’re supposed to act, to actually be the hands, feet, and mouth of Jesus. Continue reading “Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins (Miguel A. De La Torre)”

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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Mildred D. Taylor)

This is a very good book. And because it’s written with a young audience in mind, the writing is relatively easy to read. But if you’re looking for a story with a happy ending, this one’s not it. This is not a story where justice is done and people get what it would seem they deserve. It is a story of hope and loss and determination and family.

Title (Year Published) – Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976)

Author – Mildred D. Taylor

Page count – 276

Rating – Buy/Borrow/Bypass + Goodreads 5/5

(CW: the n-word, racist violence)

Cassie Logan and her family – mother, father, and three brothers – live on a farm in Mississippi in 1933. The Logan family is luckier than most in that they own the land on which they farm, and as the back of the book says: “It is the land that gives the Logans their courage and pride – no matter how much others may degrade them, the Logans possess something that no one can take away. This story focuses on the children’s experiences – attending a segregated, underfunded school; fearing attacks by the Klan; and leaning on the love and joy of their family. Continue reading “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Mildred D. Taylor)”

Nobody Knows My Name (James Baldwin)

No, I didn’t finish this book in just one day! I was reading this alongside my last two books and happened to finish it at about the same time as Shrill. So you get two reviews in two days…Lucky you 🙂

Title – Nobody Knows My Name

Author – James Baldwin

Page count – 190

Rating* – Borrow

(*Rating system taken from Book Riot’s “Buy/Borrow/Bypass” tag)

This book is actually a collection of essays. Baldwin did write several novels, but he is perhaps even more well-known as an essayist. I picked up a few of his books after watching the Raoul Peck documentary I Am Not Your Negro (based on one of Baldwin’s unfinished manuscripts) and watching a few videos of speeches he gave (like this one – CW: the n-word). There’s something about his cadence when he speaks that keeps me enraptured. Continue reading “Nobody Knows My Name (James Baldwin)”

Waiting to Exhale (Terry McMillan)

This is what I’d consider a good “beach read.” I tried not to analyze it too much because I was so drained from my last book – which was interesting but, let’s be honest, a bit pretentious. This one was an easy, fun read about female friendships, love, sex, and how to navigate (in both healthy and not-so-healthy ways) the frustrations of romance and men. Keep in mind that it was published in 1992 so there are some truly funny dated pop culture and technology references.

Title – Waiting to Exhale

Author – Terry McMillan

Page count – 409

Rating – Borrow

This book weaves together the stories of four black women in their mid-thirties living in Phoenix: Continue reading “Waiting to Exhale (Terry McMillan)”

Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson)

It seems cliché or exaggerated, but I can’t think of a book that’s ever affected me this deeply. I’ve had emotional reactions to books before, but this was different. Several times I had to put the book down because I couldn’t stop crying. It felt so visceral I almost couldn’t breathe. If this wasn’t a library book, I might have actually thrown it across the room. The more I learn about America’s criminal justice system, the more baffled and frustrated and angry I become at how we* can fail people in such spectacular and cruel ways.

(*I almost put “it” here, but the point of this book is about recognizing humanity. When we pretend like we aren’t complicit in the system’s failings, we absolve ourselves of responsibility to change.)

Title – Just Mercy: A story of justice and redemption

Author – Bryan Stevenson

Page count – 314

Rating – Buy. No question. This would be a great book to use for a discussion group, especially at church (Although, while his faith background clearly informs his worldview, it’s not the main point of this story – this is a lesson for anyone and everyone). Continue reading “Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson)”

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)

If I hadn’t read the back cover, I wouldn’t have realized this book is autobiographical. She writes with such humor and feeling that you forget these things really happened to her. You want to root for her, even – or maybe especially – when life makes it seem like she’s a bird trapped in a cage with no way to escape.

Title – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Author – Maya Angelou

Page count – 290

Rating – Borrow, although I bought mine at a used book store and will probably keep it because I need to read it at least one more time.

CW: rape/sexual assault. If reading a rape scene could trigger flashbacks for you, make sure you’re in the right mental space before reading this book. Continue reading “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)”

Stand Your Ground (Kelly Brown Douglas)

I feel a bit numb today. Check the political news for this date in history if you’re not sure why. Nevertheless, we persist. Plus I want to move on to a new book and don’t like to do that until I’ve finished my review.

This book is so important, maybe now more than ever. I’ve been very fortunate to have some friends who spontaneously started a book club to discuss each chapter. As we go along, if there are some really good discussion points I want to share with you all, I will update this post.

Title – Stand Your Ground: Black bodies and the justice of God

Author – Kelly Brown Douglas

Page count – 232

Rating – Buy (then read it again, make notes, and give it to all your friends) –> I’m trying something new with this section. Book Riot has a feature called Buy/Borrow/Bypass. I’ll still keep track of the star system on Goodreads, but I’ve found Book Riot’s more helpful in terms of whether/how to recommend. Continue reading “Stand Your Ground (Kelly Brown Douglas)”