Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions Quotes

I finished Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions while flying to New England a few weeks ago. I wanted to listen to something while traveling that I knew I could finish (the only reading I was able to get done was while I was in the air), so I downloaded this little thing to my phone and quickly fell in love with all of the words:

“If the justification for controlling women's bodies were about women themselves, then it would be understandable. If, for example, the reason was 'women should not wear short skirts because they can get cancer if they do.' Instead the reason is not about women, but about men. Women must be 'covered up' to protect men. I find this deeply dehumanizing because it reduces women to mere props used to manage the appetites of men.” 

It is like all the words I've ever thought were finally put down in a sentence that made actual sense. Women don't have to be 'covered up' just to protect men, and the idea that we think we have to do this is disturbing to me - I have no idea where it comes from. Our grandparents, our parents? I know that I find myself worrying when I walk to my car alone at night after leaving the gym, and I shouldn't feel that way. I shouldn't feel scared just because I'm a woman.

But I am.

Because I am smaller than most men, and I am not as physically strong as most men. Could I really fight my way free if someone tried to touch me? I don't know, but I do know that I am terrified that one day my own daughter, if I have one (or many), will also be fearful of walking alone in the dark, too. Will be terrified to let me know she's been touched by another person because of what she was or wasn't wearing. Will feel ashamed of something she should never be ashamed for. But I feel like I know what to say to her now that I've read these words. And I know how to teach her father what he should say to her about the clothes she decides to wear. And I hope we do a perfect job raising our sons, if we have any, to be feminists, too. 

"Never ever link her appearance with morality. Never tell her that a short skirt is ‘immoral.’ Make dressing a question of taste and attractiveness instead of a question of morality. If you both clash over what she wants to wear, never say things like ‘you look like a prostitute’ as I know your mother once told you. Instead say ‘ that dress doesn’t flatter you like this other one. Or doesn’t fit as well. Or doesn’t look as attractive. Or is simply ugly. But never ‘immoral.’ Because clothes have absolutely nothing to do with morality."

My Lady Jane

My Lady Jane (The Lady Janies #1)

by Cynthia Hand, Brodi AshtonJodi Meadows 

There are times when I can quietly finish an adventure and place it on my bookshelf, and then there are times when a story just sits on my bedside table for a handful of days after it is over. It took me quite a few weeks to My Lady Jane on a shelf, and it has everything to do with how much it surprised me.

Things happen quite quickly in this fantastic retelling of Lady Jane Grey's story: King Edward is dying (he’s terribly depressed over this) and Jane just found out her husband is a horse (call him ‘G’, please). Girls are wearing pants (the horror!) and ruling kingdoms.

And during all of this you, dear reader, are falling more and more in love and wishing that history could be rewritten for these characters.

I rarely laugh out loud while reading (you are much more likely to find me crying over a book) but could not help the smiles that broke free because of each page. My Lady Jane was lovely and daring and fun, and I just want everyone I know to read this.

 

May Adventures

This month I left behind a painful reading slump for these two lovelies below.

The Fire Next Time

by James Baldwin

I recently picked up The Fire Next Time and am hesitant to let it go - it has been so long since non-fiction has touched me in this way, and I wish everyone would read this book.

James Baldwin's prose hits you in the face to be sure your eyes are open:

“You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits of your ambition were, thus, expected to be set forever. You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity, and in as many ways as possible, that you were a worthless human being."

his is a difficult read and should be; it's a powerful account of a dangerous history that I know all too well growing up in the south. 

And, as hard as this is to read, it's one of the most beautiful books of my life: “If we-and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others- do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world”

The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2)

by Samantha Shannon

I've had this series on my shelf for quite some time now, but, it being a seven book series, I was hesitant to begin until recently. I was in a horrid book slump for much too long until I picked up the first book in The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon and felt myself being pulled into this clairvoyant world full of strange monsters and secret gangs and blooming magic.

These books have a theme of being slow to start but, if you stick with the main character, Paige, you will somehow find your fingers gripping the last pages before you realize what has happened.

I am looking forward to picking up the third book soon - I am not looking forward to the wait for the fourth installment. 

*Originally posted on The Wild Hunt

Timekeeper

“You can’t force something to occur in the future because you’d like it to, just as you can’t go back and force the past to change. There are many branches of time reaching from your bodies - I can see them attached to one another. Humans call it fate, but it’s nothing so poetic as that. It’s simply time. Time, and the decisions you make as it passes, which in turn make history. When one decision becomes impossible, the thread snaps, leaving you fewer and fewer choices. 

You won’t know until it happens, and that’s when you’ll know the right thing to do. Because it’ll be the only thing you can do. And that becomes your fate.”

It’s 1875 and clock towers rule an alternate-Victorian London. That is, until they begin falling apart. 

Danny Hart knows all too well what can happen to a town with a damaged clock - his father has been trapped in a Stopped town for the last three years and Danny, a young and prolific clock mechanic, is doing all he can to save him. But Danny’s plans come to a halt when Enfield’s tower, the clock he’s been recently assigned to, shows signs of distress caused by the clock’s spirit - a young, golden-haired boy named Colton. 

Meeting a clock spirit is rare, and falling in love with one has been known to get a mechanic exiled in the past. Danny finds himself in the middle of a dangerous attack against his relationship with Colton and, more importantly, time itself. 

Tara Sim’s novel is a fascinating concept and adventure, and, though the plot struggles to find itself until the last hundred pages, readers will enjoy this nice introduction to the rest of the trilogy. 

Timekeeper’s direction has a habit of falling into the background, sending readers on small goose chases because of the teenage protagonist. I found it difficult to relate to this London; this world has so much potential. Had the atmosphere been explored and developed, readers would find themselves drawn into a fantastical world where the threads of time could be seen and manipulated throughout Danny's arc and not just at the end. Readers might also feel cheated by Danny and Colton's quickly formed relationship and Colton’s inability to realize that by self-harming he, in turn, hurts the town around him. 

However, though Danny’s romance with Colton has a few cracks in its foundation, it redeems itself in the end. Their relationship works only when they grow to realize they must accept the outcome of their story, even if it is not the outcome they may want for each other. Danny becomes the assured, dedicated hero I wished for him to be, and Colton finds that he can gain more by letting go. Though I do enjoy a bit of angst between my characters, I was thrilled to be able to see such a significant change between the two by the last page. Watching them grow into themselves and each other was a lovely experience.

What I found to be the most interesting aspect of Timekeeper was the starting and stopping of time similar to Martin Amis’s manipulation in Time’s Arrow. The characters find themselves repeating their actions unwillingly during the plot’s climax, and the reader finds themselves rereading the same sentences in a loop with an inability to stop it. I hope this is explored more in depth in the next book.  I also appreciated the way the author thoughtfully portrays the young women in her story. Danny’s best friend, Cassie, is a strong force by his side, willing and ready to be Danny’s ear while simultaneously working under the hood of his broken auto. 

It took a bit longer than expected to be drawn into Timekeeper, but, by the end, I realized I had been on quite an enjoyable adventure and look forward to what the next installment brings for Danny and Colton and myself. 

 

 

 

 

*Many thanks to the publisher for this review copy!* 

Happy Book Birthday to Summerlost by Ally Condie!

A Spring 2016 Kids' Indie Next List Top 10 Pick!

Named one of Publishers Weekly’s Most Anticipated Children’s and YA Books of Spring 2016

“Condie (Matched) strikes a deep emotional chord with this coming-of-age story.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Honest, lovely, and sad.” – Kirkus Reviews
“A sweet, heartfelt story.” – School Library Journal

"It's the first real summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar's father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar. 

Infused with emotion and rich with understanding, Summerlost is the touching middle grade debut from Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched series, that highlights the strength of family and personal resilience in the face of tragedy."

Read an excerpt from Summerlost here

Many thanks to Word Spelunking and Penguin Kids! 

 

 

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