Evicted (Matthew Desmond)

I’ve actually read a couple other physical books in the last month or two, but this is the first I’ve really felt an inclination to review. I took Dashing Through the Snow by Mary Higgins Clark on a weekend camping trip because I knew it would be a quick read; I think I picked it up at a book sale, and while I probably wouldn’t recommend you go out and buy it, it was worth the 50 cents and fine for an easy camping trip read. Another book that took me a lot longer to get through was Inheriting Our Mothers’ Gardens, edited by Katie Geneva Cannon, Ada María Isasi-Díaz, Kwok Pui-lan, and Letty M. Russell. This collection of essays is one I had only read bits of for a Women Theologians class in college; it was excellent (unsurprising, given the brilliant authorship) but definitely not a light read that would interest just anyone.

The book for this review – Evicted – has gotten widespread praise and even won the Pulitzer Prize. Having finally read it myself, that doesn’t surprise me in the least.

TitleEvicted: Poverty and profit in the American city

Author – Matthew Desmond

Year published – 2016

Page count – 336 (read through the whole epilogue – I know some people skip, but it’s worth it)

This book follows several families in Milwaukee as they experience eviction. It’s divided into three parts: Rent, Out, and After, and looks at eviction not as a single event but as both the result and cause of various factors. It explores how eviction is interconnected with poverty, race, housing policies, welfare, drugs, addiction, domestic violence, and community support structures. Continue reading “Evicted (Matthew Desmond)”

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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz)

I’m doing something a little bit different with my “stats” section below. It seemed too crowded to put the title and year published on the same line so those are now separated out. And I’ve been ruminating for awhile on what to do with what I used to call the “Rating” line. I enjoy the Buy/Borrow/Bypass posts by Book Riot, but I don’t think it is actually as helpful in this format as I thought it would be. And just posting my Goodreads rating doesn’t feel like it’s giving you enough info. So I’m going to try a one- to two-sentence blurb about whether I would recommend this book and, if so, to whom. Any readers of this blog are welcome to comment with your thoughts about what you actually find helpful 🙂

Title – The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Year published – 2007

Author – Junot Díaz

Page count – 335

Recommendation – My reaction to this reminds me of my thoughts on The Color Purple – I think everyone should definitely read this book at least once, but I don’t know that I need or want to read it again. Would be an interesting choice for a high school English class (and it would 100% get subsequently challenged/banned).

CW: the n-word, sexual assault/violence, suicide, depression – if those subjects could trigger trauma flashbacks for you, please make sure you’re in the right headspace before reading this. Continue reading “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz)”

Counting Descent (Clint Smith)

I went through a short poetry phase in high school, sparked by a unit we did in our AP English class. For whatever reason, that interest dropped off. This year’s Reading Challenge saw me pick it back up, and it has breathed new life into my reading routine. Not every author or type of poetry will speak to every person so don’t be turned off to poetry as a genre if you don’t happen to like what an authority figure has deemed “proper” or “good” poetry. And if you’re not into whatever author or type of poetry is in vogue, that’s fine, too. (If rupi kaur isn’t your thing, we won’t judge you.) I find that it’s like viewing art at a museum: don’t pay attention to the crowds or what’s highlighted in the guidebooks; find whatever speaks to you and go enjoy that.

Title/Year Published – Counting Descent (2016)

Author – Clint Smith (go follow his twitter too)

Page count – 70

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

This slim volume focuses on the theme of race, specifically what it means to live as a black man in America. Family relationships and histories are central to this story-telling. Continue reading “Counting Descent (Clint Smith)”

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)”

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)”