My world is a mass of muddy defrosting, dirty snow, and the excitement of the birds returning. I love it when the birds come back out. When the snow melts enough I will go back to putting cracked corn in the yard so I can have my duck friends visit.
I have to admit that vitamin D got me through the winter, taken on the recommendation of any local healthcare provider I speak with. That’s my justification for complaining about winter is that even the healthcare providers tell everyone to keep up on their sunshine vitamins during the grueling months.
I like to use BookRiot’s recommendations for categories that have to do with someone’s ethnic background or gender preference/sexual proclivities. Sometimes a google search leads me wrong and I feel voyeuristic combing author profiles for who they are and what they prefer. Their perspectives are important and absolutely worth reading. Because their gender identity is something that has been salient due to their not aligning with their gender assignment, gender is considered in ways that someone like me, who is cis, never really thought about. But that’s why we read harder, because those other perspectives deserve awareness and consideration.
But I’d prefer that BookRiot find them for me. And even after they do, I don’t look into it further, like, are they non binary, or what were they born as, or whatever.
I also found that today’s choices could count for neurodiverse characters, and some other lists I have looked at have wanted to include authors from Africa. These books push reading parameters in a number of ways. And they were not easy reads, either one of them.
A Novel by a Trans or Non Binary Author:
Freshwater, Akwaeke Emezi
A young woman is a host to a myriad of spirits in this book, and story is told in the points of view of the spirits who inhabit her. And before she learns that she is in control of them (sorry, spoiler alert), they control her extensively. She gives herself up to them through most of the book, although, looking back now that I am finished with it I can see where she gains control of them along the way more clearly. And the reason I am sharing what the end is because through the book, I was wondering where this was heading, where the plot was. It is an interesting story but it was a tale of a difficult life and I wondered where it was going and how it would end up. It does end up in something. I wanted to keep reading, even though I wasn’t sure if it had a plot.
This book got a decent amount of attention as a debut novel, but some people who reviewed it on Amazon struggled with it. I enjoyed this book, but it pushes a lot of boundaries and topics I have not typically come across in novels, so I can see where some people truly felt they did not ‘get’ it. And I might only ‘get’ it because of the amount of my life I have spent studying psychology and thinking about spirituality/mysticism. I think the writing is obviously beautiful, but the content at times can be difficult, with self harm and rape, a woman struggling with literally her demons, losing a marriage to someone who always stood out and was special to her, as much as she didn’t want them to be. We all have that person who despite the turmoil they can bring are incomparable to anyone else at that time in their lives. I have had those people. I would have hated to lose them in the times they were still so special to me.
This is worth picking up, but I know it isn’t for everyone. Most books that get a lot of attention really aren’t for everyone. They have intense psychological themes that are just too much or unrelateable for some people, enough to where the beautiful writing would not be enough to get them through. Like, my educated and well read father couldn’t understand my love for All the Light We Cannot See.
An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon
I guess in writing my reviews and looking up other people’s opinions on the internet I am really seeing how these two books today are about trauma. (And honestly it worries me about if my own book ever comes to fruition all the well thought out and articulate ways some people will not like it.) A lower class woman with autism, Aster, is living in a spaceship with clearly delineated social strata. Her mother allegedly committed suicide but Aster realizes that she left messages behind and all might not be as it seems. As in usual dystopian books, she bucks the system. I won’t say how it ends, but if you have not read it, you might be able to guess enough even from there. Rape and injustice are commonplace, and everyone notes when discussing this book that the upper classes have genders while the lower deck people are less gender conforming, less constrained by the strict heteronormative rules of above.
Criticism I read of this book indicated that people did not like the ending or that they felt it was too lucky or Aster didn’t display enough agency in the ending. I don’t know if I missed something because I don’t know how she could have done more in what ended up happening, or how a book set up like this could have ended otherwise? I had more of an issue getting into it in the beginning. There seemed to be a lot of information to wade through before my brain could make sense of all of it to move forward. It’s a lot of world building, and that’s important. One reviewer said it’s a mix between Battlestar Galactica, A Handmaiden’s Tale, and Roots. Listening to it helped because the narrator changed up voices, but even then sometimes I needed to slow it down. It took me time to get into it. About 20% through was when I caught on enough to move forward.
And I was driving to work during the last like 55 minutes of it, trying to stop and get my Wednesday Speedway coffee during one of the most dramatic moments. Kinda interrupts the flow when you’re deciding which pot of house roast looks best and being convinced you left your friend’s borrowed Prius “key” on the counter because you were talking with the sales associate. I frantically emptied my whole purse on her passenger seat which is probably a breach of friendship unless I get my butt over to vacuum it before I return it, which I will. And then after all that I return to the book where it’s all going to pot.
I also really liked the characters. Some people said they didn’t feel fleshed out but I felt they were. I saw in the blurb that Aster was autistic and I set out to 1. see if it was consistent with someone truly not neurotypical and 2. if this tidbit added to the plot. I wouldn’t have picked up right away that she was, which I actually think is a good thing, because sometimes autism is more subtle, especially in females, and I didn’t want her to be a caricature. And it added to the plot because she worked through some of her deficits, like her social struggles. So I liked it when initially I was skeptical. I also very much like the the surgeon, who even though he was higher class was not afraid to be himself and not a mindless part of the brutality more endemic to his class. I mean, I love healers, and healers who can see through the external trappings to the inner good in someone.
I am getting lots of writing done, which is awesome. I wrote my first sonnet. I can’t say it’s a great sonnet but it felt overwhelming when it was assigned and I took a few weeks to get through it, and I did, and it won’t be a total embarrassment to post. And my first wattpad piece is up! I am writing under Teigan_Blake if anyone wants to check out my re-telling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, renamed Those Twinkling Spirit Lights.