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 LovelyAudiobooks.info.
Sea Prayer, Khaled Hosseini
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
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.