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My first reads of 2020 - and they are doozies!

#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women edited by Lisa Charleyboy

Genre: Nonfiction, YA

Published 2017, 103 pages

What a remarkable, profound, eye-opening, thoughtful, heartbreaking book. Poetry, essays, and art are all used to explain, to show, to describe the Indigenous Woman experience from a variety of authors and artists. And it's done beautifully and intensely.

All the content describes a life that is so far removed from my own that I find it hard to wrap my head around. I reread several of the pages a couple times to really be able to absorb the message. And the overriding message to me is how marginalized Indigenous women feel and how harshly they've been treated and how they're trying to overcome the white patriarchal societal mores and reconnect with their culture and their history.

A couple of favorite pieces are "We are Not a Costume" by Jessica Deer (Mohawk), "Dear Past Self" by Isabella Fillspipe (Oglala Lakota), and "Good Medicine" by Janet Smylie (Cree/Metis) who has an excellent paragraph about race bias and her studies of the topic, and the article "Reclaiming Indigenous Women's Rights" by Nahanni Fontaine (Anishinaabe) has a couple of paragraphs about white patriarchy that are thought provoking.

I found "The Things We Taught Our Daughters" by Helen Knott (Dane Zaa/Cree) particularly powerful as she uses poetry to talk about sexual abuse and how girls are taught to be blind, to look away, and endure.

"we stuck sexual abuse up on the mantelpiece

picture framed the portrait of rape

and named the old Rez dog domestic dispute

we gave all of this shit a home

the aggressive interloper intrudes

and we accepted its right to exist

love just isn't really love

if he doesn't say it with his fists"

This is a book all women should read. Each of us will connect to one of the life stories or illustrations in some way.

Reading Challenge: #ReadHarder20 #1: YA nonfiction. These kinds of books are why I continue to participate in the Read Harder challenge - I never would have found it on my own. Also #Popsugar20 #11: anthology. This is my Review of the Month for the book review link-up on

Sea Prayer, Khaled Hosseini

Genre: Children

Read Harder Challenge #19: by or about a refugee

Published 2018, 44 pages

If a book, even a picture book, makes you feel and cry and bemoan the state of the world, that's truly something. I had zero expectations for this book. I don't have children at home so haven't read a picture book in 30+ years. This one ...... this one, touched me (and made me cry).

Written as a letter from a father to a young son as they're about to embark on a dangerous effort to leave Syria, the language is poetic and the art evocative. (and inspired by the story of Alan Kurdi, the 3 year old Syrian refugee who drowned while trying to reach safety in Europe in 2015)

Neither (story or the art) is particularly appropriate to really young children....I'd guess maybe 8+ years old and certainly adults can find something of value in this small gem of a book. I particularly loved the art as I'm a fledgling watercolorist and the watercolor paintings were simple but wonderful.

High praise for this, my first book in 2020. Reading Challenge: #ReadHarder20 (by or about a refugee)

Thunder Boy, Jr., Sherman Alexie

Genre: Children

Read Harder Challenge #18: picture book with main character from a marginalized community

Published 2016, 40 pages

The third book I read on New Year's Day, this one is absolutely a children's book. A charming story about a little boy who wants his own name (not Thunder junior) so he comes up with all these delightfully goofy alternatives. Appropriate for any age or ethnic group.....any little boy who wants to laugh at naming ideas.

Again, read for the #ReadHarder20 challenge #18: picture book with main character from a marginalized community.

Welcome to Bookshelf Journeys.

It's my goal to provide real reviews of the books I read without totally rehashing every plot. I'll never spoil a story by giving away a plot twist! Hopefully you'll find one or two of interest and will discover a new book or author to add to YOUR TBR list.  Take a moment to explore, read a couple reviews, and let me know what you think.


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