Book Review: A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
There are some books that manage to rip your heart out, filling you with grief for the characters, and then they give you hope for the future at their conclusion.
A Woman is No Man is one of these books. Told from the viewpoint of three generations of Palestinian-American women, this book explores fate, choices, culture, and traditions. It is a book about suppression and violence, but also about faith and personal strength. From their deep-rooted desire to do the best and live up to cultural expectations, the main characters explore and challenge what it means to be a woman in two very different cultures.
This is a beautiful book, one that I finished in less than 48 hours. Deya, Isra, and Fareeda are nuanced characters who show their strengths in different ways. Etaf Rum writes in a gorgeous style, showing vulnerability and thoughtfulness on every page.
A Woman is No Man is a 5⭐️ book, one that I highly recommend.
Book Review: “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck
I should have known better. I’ve heard enough pop culture references to “Of Mice and Men” that I am familiar with the story. But dang it, the ending just wrecked me. In fact, the entire book stomped on my emotions. Lennie just wants to love and George does what he can to protect him in his gruff way, but the results are just tragic. Curley and his wife are cruel, backward, and vengeful. Steinbeck crafted a story that is simple and complex and emotive, but I had a really difficult time with the racist, derogatory language and content.
I read this one as an audiobook and in written form at the same time. Listening to the audio was a unique experience because I generally don’t choose fiction for my audiobooks. Overall, I’m glad I finished it, but it was a 3⭐️ book for me. I know this is supposed to be an American classic, but it just didn’t work for me despite pulling on my emotions.
Book Review: “The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin
I really enjoyed Baldwin’s essays in “The Fire Next Time.” The powerful subject matter of racial discrimination made me hurt and think, two actions that only a truly amazing writer can impart on a reader. I must admit I knew very little about Baldwin before I picked up this book of essays, but I am challenging myself to learn through reading this year. And this book is part of that goal.
Baldwin’s writing style is so interesting as well. I could feel the fire burning as I read the words, even without much flourish of adjectives. His pace quickened as he made his points, and then it slowed when he needed to give the reader a chance to ponder the words. This is a beautiful, powerful book that describes the terrible racial divides in our country.
Book Review: Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory
I’ve slowly stopped being a fan of rom-com reads over the past decade, so I didn’t pick up Party of Two with the expectation of loving it. But, having enjoyed The Wedding Date a couple of years ago, I figured another Guillory book would be an entertaining read.
And yes, this book was entertaining. I enjoyed the character development and the will-they-or-won’t-they trope. Overall, it was a 3 ⭐️ read because I’m just not a rom-com person, I guess. However, I love the diverse characters Guillory creates and the BIPOC representation in her books.
“Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated” by Alison Arngrim
I wanted to enjoy this memoir so much more than I did. Alison Arngrim will forever be engrained in American pop culture as the evil Nellie Oleson on the 1970s/1980s tv show Little House on the Prairie. But as Arngrim writes in her memoir, playing the hated, spoiled, ringlet-shaking nemesis to Laura Ingalls actually gave her the foundation to be a strong, confident woman offscreen.
With a terrible history of physical and sexual abuse in her childhood, Arngrim writes with honesty and reflection. The requisite stories from the Little House set are humorous and nostalgic. I learned things I didn’t know about the actors, but all in all, this book just didn’t pull at my emotions, despite the terrible childhood that Arngrim had. The writing just didn’t draw me in as I’d hoped, but I’m glad I read it.