Okay, so somehow, in all my binge reading to escape from reality, I managed to get a little bit behind on my reviews! Happens to the best of us; sometimes life just gets in the way. So here I am with a little catch-up post to get me back on track. Welcome to Stephanie’s mini-reviews!
How to Find What You’re Not Looking For
Lovely late middle-grade-to-early-YA historical (could really go either way; at my library, it’s shelved in the YA section) set in 1967, narrated by the younger daughter of a Jewish family living in the New York suburbs. Ariel struggles in school and likely has some undiagnosed learning disabilities (a key point in the plot), but her beloved older sister Leah is her rock, helping her with homework and understanding the changing world around her. But when Leah’s relationship with Raj, a Hindu student, causes their parents to lose it, Ariel finds herself without her sister in her life, possibly for good.
Well-written historical that brings in so many of the elements that made the sixties such a fascinating time in history, and the blending of Jewish and Indian cultures makes for a really lovely read.
How the Other Half Eats: The Untold Story of Food and Inequality in America
Phew. Sociologist and ethnographer Fielding-Singh followed American families, some of them closely and for an extended period of time, in order to better observe what they ate, and why. What she learned went against the grain of what we’ve all learned about diets in America (food deserts aren’t as much of a problem as we suspected, for one, and poor parents often give in to buying junk food for their kids because it’s one of the few circumstances they CAN say yes to). Black families, white families, poor families, middle class, upper class, they’re all represented here, and the differences and similarities are intriguing. Super good book.
A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice and Freedom
Brittany K. Barnett
WHOA, this is a great book!!! Ms. Barnett is a lawyer who started out in business, but who became involved in pro-bono work for Black people steamrolled by the war on drugs. Fighting to lessen unjust sentences and free people from lengthy prison sentences for crimes that they weren’t actually involved in became her heartsong, and this memoir exposes the absolutely filthy outcome of the American war on drugs: lives ruined, families torn apart, and lifetimes of human potential thrown out like trash. Brittany K. Barnett is a modern-day hero, and you shouldn’t miss this book. Her hard work and determination are inspiring, but the fact that she has to work so damn hard to right such hideous injustice that doesn’t have to exist is enraging. A remarkable book by a remarkable woman.
Parenting with Love and Logic
Foster W. Cline and Jim Fay
As recommended by my daughter’s counselor. A thoughtful book on parenting techniques that make kids responsible for their own behavior and the consequences that stem forth from it. I’m already seeing results and wish I would’ve picked this up years ago. Highly recommended if you’ve got a kid that likes to fight you over every. little. thing. like I do.
Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin
Stunning graphic novel depicting the story of a young boy from Niger who leaves his village to search for his sister, who left quite a while ago, and his brother, who took off in search for her. His travels find him homeless, hungry, running from danger, and in terrible situations with bad people in the desert. Its ending is similar to many of the stories we’ve seen on the news; don’t turn away from this fictionalized account of real-life trauma suffered by so many.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music History
Read as part of my personal Read Harder challenge. Interesting overview of the history of music. Mostly focused on Western music, but there is a little in there on Asia, Africa, and the Middle East (whew, their rhythms are complicated for this lazy western brain!). Not the most interesting book I’ve ever read, but I enjoyed learning about the various movements in classical music history, especially.
The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities for Kids Ages 3-12
Out of date, and by that, I mean it’s straight up like, “Ooh, did you know that if you have a computer, you can get access to a LOT of information via the internet??? There’s this one site called Google…” I had this on my shelf from the days of homeschooling my son and read through it a bit at a time to get some fresh ideas for my daughter this year, and I did walk away with some. Pretty sure there are newer homeschooling books out there that may be a little more fresh in terms of content.
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
This was never going to get a full review from me, because (and I have zero problems admitting this) I’m not smart enough. This is really an incredible book that shows many of the ways the United States screwed Black and brown folks out of real estate ownership and thus out of generational wealth. It didn’t have to be the on-paper, passed-by-Congress law in order for it to work exactly as if it were, and the effects were exactly the same – and it’s still going on today. This is a damning book and should make every American shake their heads in disgust and fight for a better, more just world. This is also a really tough read; it’s highly academic, and I wound up cutting it down to fifty pages a day because it was a little tough for me to follow otherwise. It’ll give your brain a workout, as well as make you furious.
I grabbed my daughter’s copy of this this past week. Raina’s graphic memoirs are a huge hit with the younger crowd, and it’s so easy to see why. Guts tells the story of her middle school anxiety, what it looked and felt like, and how she, with the help of her parents and counselor, dealt with it. This is a great read for all kids, not just those suffering from anxiety. It’s important for everyone to understand how common anxiety is, what it looks like, and what to do when someone you know or love is dealing with it.
The Complete Maus
My husband ordered a copy of this back when places in Tennessee were trying to get it banned because they’re giant morons. Maus tells the story of Mr. Spiegelman’s father, a Holocaust survivor, depicting the Jews as mice and the Nazis as cats. The story flips back and forth between Art interviewing his father and in Europe both before and during the war. This is a quick read, but it’s heavy, and there’s nothing bannable about it.
The Weight of Ink
This was a cool one! Historical fiction interspersed with modern-day. Documents from the 1660’s have been discovered in a house in England, and an unlikely research team has shown up to begin translating the documents, which came from a rabbi of some historical renown. But the story goes much deeper than that, involving love, intrigue, hidden studies and forbidden learning, Jewish culture after the Inquisition and expulsion from Spain, and the Plague. I read this one at the suggestion of my Jewish women’s book group, and while it’s outside my normal reading boundaries, I really enjoyed this one. If you like historical fiction in general, this is probably right up your alley.
And that’s it! I generally dislike doing these mass mini-review posts; books deserve their own posts, but I’m just one person and I only have so many hours in the day. Hopefully you don’t mind too much, and maybe you’ve even found something of interest here. : )