Confessions of a Frustrated Millennial: Book Review

“Natasha, Danielle, and Jayla all have big career dreams, and they’ve done everything right to reach their goals. Natasha earned her MBA, Danielle landed an important reality show part, and Jayla passed the bar. They are so close to their dreams of working in business, entertainment, and law, but the dearth of good jobs in the current economy has made it impossible for a millennial to catch a break.”

The young ladies in this Eugenia R. Jefferson’s Confessions of a Frustrated Millennial are just like most educated, driven, young ladies in society. They’re making steps to try and secure the lives that they’ve envisioned for themselves. Natasha is stuck working at a nonprofit dealing with micro-aggressions and doing all of her bosses work while getting none of the credit. Danielle is moonlighting as a waitress in between her auditions for what she hopes is her big break and Jayla still hasn’t managed to secure a position at a law firm in Boston and is forced to move back into her parents home in Chicago.images-4.jpeg

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s a quick read which I mostly completed on my flight to Vegas last month. I’m super excited to see that more books telling the regular mundane aspects of black women’s lives are being published. For years now I’ve been asking for stories about regular black women doing regular schmegular degular (word to Cardi B.) black women things, which are essentially the same types of things as every other woman through the magical lens of a black woman’s experience.

As we follow Danielle, Tasha, and Jayla along their journey we’re educated about life in Chicago and entertained with each characters exploits from first dates, to weddings, to cussing their bosses clear the eff out. (WHICH HE SORELY NEEDED) By the end of the story each of the characters is happy in life even if their lives and careers have taken turns that they never in their wildest dreams expected.

I knew I was going to like this book as soon as I received it in the mail because the cover is adorable so I happily gave it 5 stars. Read it if you love books about Black Girl Magic that have happy endings. Lord knows in today’s day and age we could all use a few more happy endings.

Sidebar: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the author.

Mamas Love Your Daughters: My Review of Halsey Street

“Penelope Grand has scrapped her failed career as an artist in Pittsburgh and moved back to Brooklyn to keep an eye on her ailing father. She’s accepted that her future won’t be what she’d dreamed, but now, as gentrification has completely reshaped her old neighborhood, even her past is unrecognizable. Old haunts have been razed, and wealthy white strangers have replaced every familiar face in Bed-Stuy. Even her mother, Mirella, has abandoned the family to reclaim her roots in the Dominican Republic. That took courage. It’s also unforgivable.”

This book had me in my emotions the entire time. Probably because I’m really sensitive to the relationship between mothers and daughters. I hate the notion that bringing a child into the world and giving them food, clothing, and a safe place to sleep is something that should be lauded and praised. Children require care. They require mothering. And Penelope Grand’s mother is not a loving mother. Or at least that’s how Penelope feels.

Mirella feels like she is a provider. She wants so much for her daughter. So much that she couldn’t have for herself. Her daughter could be anything that she wants, a doctor, a lawyer anything if she would just stop playing around with her art. “It might be that only artists want their children to become artists.” 

Unsure of how to connect with her child Mirella provides. She dreams for, she tries to guide but she can’t connect with her daughter. Maybe, this is because she had a difficult childhood and her own young mother didn’t properly bond with her. Maybe, this is because her father died when she was so young. Maybe, it’s because she is a Dominican Immigrant married to an African American man living in Brooklyn and she doesn’t understand or agree with most of their American customs.

Mirella and Penelope’s disconnect causes Penelope to leave home and move to Pittsburgh where she lives an isolated life until her father gets hurt causing her to return to Brooklyn. Nothing about Brooklyn is the same, Mirella is gone, her family’s store is gone, her father has declined physically and the Gentrifying Landlord family that she rents a room from may seem to have it all together but they have a whole heap of issues of their own.

Back in Brooklyn Penelope is forced to deal with the change that comes along with the changing landscape of her neighborhood, her aging father, and the hurt that she’s been carrying from her childhood and her relationship with her mother.

As Penelope navigates her new life and faces her path we realize how much hurt can be passed down from generation to generation and what happens when the cycle isn’t stopped. Back in her home country of the Dominican Republic Mirella tries to find a way to connect with her daughter.  Now that she has built home of her own she realizes that all that is missing of her life is a connection with her daughter.

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Naima Coster Author of Halsey Street

I really enjoyed this book and give it 5 stars. I really disliked Penelope and her mother Mirella for most of the story but my reason for disliking them is because I know people like them. People who carry old slights around and ignore the love that is given to them because it’s not the love that they want. People who use these feelings and emotions to excuse their reckless behaviors and avoid true growth. In the end Penelope begins to acknowledge these things and begins to grow.

As a writer when you take your  readers through so many upsetting emotions they should be given some sort of reward and Penelope’s growth at the end was reward enough for me. I also appreciated how the writer subtly showed the effects of gentrification on the native Brooklynites. It wasn’t pushy or preachy just stating what was so and I loved that.

Images from Author’s website: naimacoster.com

ProTip: I simultaneously read this book on Audiobook and Kindle. I tend to do this whenever possible so that I can listen to the book while driving and such and physically read the book when I can.

If You Must Be Creative With Our Stories How About You Be Creative

So it happened, I woke up opened my book and began to read as I do almost every single day. Reading is what I do. I consider myself more than anything to be a connoisseur of books. Sometime during the trips of my eyes from left to right across the page of my current read I got that feeling. The one I get where I know that I won’t be able to continue reading the book without doing a little research.

I tell myself not to. To at least wait until I’ve completed the book and have a true opinion about the story before I go internet diving for clues. But I don’t. 7.5 minutes later I’m looking into the face of a white appearing woman or man, standing next to their white appearing spouse, with their white appearing children in their suburban or gentrified ass white appearing neighborhood.

I know as you read those words you’re probably coming to conclusions so I should say here, I am not angry. If I am anything I’m bored.

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I’m not angry that a white appearing person has written yet another bestselling YA novel about yet another African American teenager. Nor, that they have taken liberties with this teenagers life and given them the crackhead parent, the absent parent, the problems in school, the job that they HAVE to work in order to contribute to their family because of the crackhead or absent parent.

But, as I continue to do research on this person: looking up their parents, researching their childhoods, the cities they were born in, thinking maybe just maybe their best friend was black, looking for stories in which they describe where they got the idea for this story, looking for anything to help me feel better about the fact that yet another of our stories is being told by other people while we’re still not given the equal opportunities to tell our own; I do get a little annoyed.

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See, as a writer I know that we have the creative license to write whatever we want about whatever we want however we want and that we don’t just have to tell the stories that we know. But, as I look at how stereotypes are developed and perpetuated and have been perpetuated for years and years I can’t help but wonder why a person who took ALL of the creative license with a story would continue to write these lazy stereotype ladden stories.

When I read a story about these issues that do in fact exist for some black people written by a black person I know that most likely they have experienced these issues or that the issues are at the very least in their orbit. But, when these stories are written by white appearing people I can’t help but question why if they felt the need to write about black people, why they didn’t use their creative license to write about magical black girls or as Danez Smif requests black boys playing with dinosaurs in the hood. 

Social Media airways, news and media outlets for once in our history are being flooded with Magical Black Girls and Black Boy Joy and  Black Super Heroes and yet television, movies, and books are still full of the same stereotypical stories about food stamp dependent, thugged out, drug abusing black people.

There will always be these stories to be told like their will always be a new movie about slavery. So, I’m not asking white people to not write stories about black people. I’m asking them to give us the whole stories. Like they do for white people. I’ve yet to read a story about a white crackhead teenager without being informed that she was a jock who broke her leg, had surgery, was placed on oxycodone, and became addicted. They’re humanized. So can we be humanized in these stereotypical redundant ass stories? I’m just asking  if you must be creative with our stories then how about you be creative or at the very least, tell the whole story.

 

Faultlines: Whoops I Didn’t See That Coming

One moment in Jordan Cline’s life tears his entire family apart. He and his cousin Travis have been in a tragic accident. All three of the car’s occupants were terribly injured but what happened? Jordan may go to prison for thirty years because although he says that he was not driving all of the witnesses and all of the evidence point directly towards Jordy. And no one believes him except for his mother. Of course, mother’s never want to believe that their children are capable of terrible things.

Faultlines takes us along for the wild ride that Jordan and his mother’s life are on after the accident. Was Jordan drinking and driving?  If he wasn’t then why is the town hero Officer Huck out to destroy Jordan’s life? Barbara Taylor Sissal has written a mystery that keeps the reader guessing the entire time.

I loved Faultlines, the way that it unfolds kept me engaged and rooting for Jordy and Sandy. I kept wanting him to be innocent even when all of the signs pointed to his guilt. Oh and the climax… I DID NOT see THAT climax coming. I was literally sitting there staring at the book with my mouth wide open.

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Also, That small town attitude that the story describes is XACTLY why I love living in the city. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I gave this story 4 stars and would gladly read another book from this author.

 

Corner Dweller- The Buried Book

I haven’t thrown a book in the corner for quite a while but The Buried Book by D.M. Pulley is going straight into the corner. I would also like them to repay me my time and make my brain stop hurting.

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The story isn’t bad per se… but the characters just got on my last nerve. Uhhhh I guess I should tell you what the story is about before I discuss characters so here goes:

 

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Jasper’s mom Althea drops him off at her brother’s farm to live. She  leaves him there with nothing but a suitcase and a bible. She doesn’t give anyone a real reason for her abandoning Jasper. She’s apparently left him in the past but never for this many days so Jasper begins to worry. He overhears the adults talking about her and figures that she must be in trouble so  Jasper goes on a hunt for his mother putting himself in frequent danger. The entire story is one boringly outlandish incident after another as Jasper, a nine year old boy, hunts for his mother alone

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While on this hunt Jasper finds her childhood journal which he uses for clues to where she may be. He finds himself on Indian Reservations, at bars, and strip clubs during his hunt. The story is outlandish and Jasper’s frequent crying and injuries just add to the outlandishness of the story. You set fire to the barn and burned a house down and didn’t get your ass whooped once from your terrifying christian farmer uncle?- I think not.

I struggle to give this story 2 stars but I managed to eek them out since I completed the book and cared enough about the characters to make it to the end. I do like D.M. Pulley so I’m going to consider this story a fluke…

EDIT: I lied up above where I said that I like D.M. Pulley. When I went to add this title to The Book Corner I see that the last book that I added to that list was The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley. My bad. I shall now avoid D.M. Pulley like I avoid people with unvaccinated children. *Kayne Shrug*

Grist Mill Road: A Wild Ass Ride

Christoper Yates’ Grist Mill Road is a weirdly entertaining wild ass ride. Every time you think to yourself, “this story can’t get any crazier” or “these people can’t get any weirder” Yates unveils another level of hurt, betrayal, misunderstanding, violence and resentment.

In 1982 a group of friends suffer a traumatic ordeal where one of them is seriously injured by another one. In 2008 we meet this fractured group of friends again living their own lives under the shadow of what happened all  of those years ago. Why did it happen? What actually happened? Who was really there? And what’s next?

The story jumps back and forth from 1982 to 2008 giving us background and telling us their version of the story in the three character’s, Patrick, Hannah, and Matthew, voices. Sometimes this method of story telling can be a little dizzying but Yates weaves the story together magically.

I felt like I was on a rollercoaster ride the entire time and give the story 4 Stars.

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*I was given an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Looking For Alaska: Quick Book Review

I’ve been reading Looking For Alaska by John Green for a few weeks. It took me longer than usual because it wasn’t one of those books where you just can’t put it down. For most of the story the characters were likable enough but I just didn’t really care about them. Until tragedy struck. For that reason I gave it 3 Stars.
 The story is good. Not extraordinary… Just good. Like a cup of cool water on a hot summer’s day. It’ll do. It just doesn’t knock your socks off.
Looking for Alaska has great writing, a good story line, and funny dialogue between a group of teens trying to find themselves at a boarding school. 
 
I read YA novels frequently but for a moment while reading this book I was annoyed and began judging  these teenagers for being teenagers until I remembered that when I was a teenager I did most of the same things that they did in this book when I lived on Campus at my school. *shrugs* #NoJudging
 
#SpoilerAlert John Green is going to make you cry in this book. Not as bad as The Fault in Our Stars but you’ll definitely shed a few tears.
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The Book of Unknown Americans

I originally started writing a typical review of this book but last night I had a text conversation with my cousin and I realized how boring that review was so here goes:

I loved the book of Unknown Americans: I gave it 5 STARS. 

Mayar and Maribel’s teenage love story is the love story of two teenage neighbors who fall in love in the most American way in spite of their Americaness constantly being denied. There’s seeing each other in a way that no one else does, stolen kisses, and stolen moments of teenage rebellion that lead to the most fucked up shit. Adding to their love story is the fact that it isn’t tied up neatly with a bright red bow.

In The Book of Unknown Americans we travel with a group of neighbors who live in a building full of other immigrants as they make their way from their respective lands and end up in Maryland in this apartment building. The journeys of each tenant gives the reader insights into the reasons why people leave their homes, their families, their lives, their beautiful native lands of Puerto Rico, Panama, Mexico, Columbia- to chase the American Dream.

In the story we are forced to bare witness to the ugliness that immigrants are forced to deal with; poor working conditions, racial profiling, harassment, robbery, bullying, the constant feeling of less than, while trying to survive and get a piece of the elusive American Pie.

And I loved the journeys. Up until this book I had a very minimal understanding of why people would leave home for America only to be frequently ridiculed and treated like a burden.

So that’s the love. Now for the hate. I’ll keep it brief. Check it under this Spoiler Alert:

-SPOILER ALERT-

THINGS I HATE:

  • ALMA- Keeper of secrets that cause harm for the stupidest of reasons. ALMA, why the eff didn’t you at least try to get a job washing laundry, cooking, babysitting, something? Why is your family struggling whilst you try to find your damn self and threaten teenagers in a language that you can barely speak? ALMA, most of this is your fault.
  • The shifting of characters is a bit to get used to as each character tells their story in the first person narrative style and some stories feel more authentic than others.
  • The glossing over of Garret Miller’s life. There’s enough there to gather that this family has problems but if this character is going to be the antagonist that character’s life and encounters can’t be written as an after thought.

I recommend that most people read this book especially people who think that immigrants are stealing their jobs, want to Make America Great Again,  tell other people to “Go back where you came from” and those who say  “We speak English in America if you can’t speak the language then go back home.”

Damn Joe, We Were All Depending on You: I Hated The Fireman

This week I completed Joe Hill’s The Fireman.

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I hated it. I hated the characters and how weak they were. How stupid they were. How mean and evil they were. The writing is good because: Joe Hill aka Stephen King is his daddy. How could he write bad. But uh…

 

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If I hadn’t read some of his other stuff like:

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which was AMAZING, I would never read him again.

That’s how pissed off these characters made me.I read this book in full on yell at the book mode. Some of the things that happened in this book were Straight up lets have sex while Jason is at the window, stupid.

 

Like: No, don’t go that way. Don’t drink that!! Hurry up!!! Why are you staying there they’re going to kill your baby??!

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If this book were a movie I would tell Lisa Puckett ( my peach biffle) that her people needed to sue because of they way that they were portrayed in it.

I gave it:

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Very generous stars.
Read at your own risk because I definitely threw this book in the corner.

Oh yeah; I know he’s getting rave reviews and this book just made the New York Times Bestsellers List *shrugs*

Me Before You: A Lesson in Heartbreak

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As a constant reader your heart will be broken frequently. If you’ve been reading the way that I have been; constantly since I was four years old, then you are attuned to the impending heartbreak of a novel, usually from the moment that you open the book.

So when I opened Me Before You and met Lou I knew without a doubt that I was going to have my heart broken… splintered into a thousand teeny tiny pieces and I craved that heartbreak. Because the only way that my heart wouldn’t become broken would have been if the writer took the easy way out and made this story into one of those cliched, dreaded happy ending novels. You know the ones: girl meets assholish boy, girl changes/accepts boys assholish ways, and they live happily ever after.

Jojo Moyes does not disappoint. She has written a thoroughly researched novel about heartbreak, pain, love, and the transformation that all of these things will cause in a human’s life.

I know, I know, I’ve waxed on poetically and I haven’t even told you what the book is about. Probably because, I couldn’t describe it adequately in my current blubbery state but Goodreads does an amazing job:

“Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time. ”

And oh how they change. The journey that they take along their transformation is both annoying (because seriously Lou stop being so damned self involved. and Really Will you don’t have to be such an asshole all of the time) and amazing (when you realize that Will is the first person who’s ever really seen Lou your heart will stop) and I enjoyed every second of it.

You will see this book touted as a love story, it isn’t. It is in fact a social commentary on euthananasia, quality of life, and whether someone should be able to decide for themselves what they should or should not do about their life if they are unhappy with it. It is also an example of what happens when one becomes stuck in  a certain lifestyle out of necessity and what can happen when one’s status quo abruptly changes.

As a nurse I struggled with the euthanasia subject because I have met people who have zero quality of life and are absolutely miserable, who are kept alive because someone loves them enough to think that they should be kept alive by any means necessary. And I’ve stated to myself and my co-workers how selfish those people are. BUT usually those people are older or not cognitively there. To be forced to face my prejudices on this subject with a young person who is fully there cognitively was such a great lesson for me.

There are a few areas where the author used her creative license ie: Louisa being hired to be someone’s companion even though she has no experience, the issues that Lou and her family have (two adult children arguing over clothes and who gets the bigger bed) but to me those things added to the story. Also my mother’s fully grown children still climb into her bed and are selfish as hell so *shrugs* I won’t ding her for those as I have seen others do. Besides if Louisa would have been the appropriate choice for the job Will would have never let her get so close to him and the story wouldn’t have progressed so I’m glad that he was the reason behind her growth.

For the first time in a long time I have used all of my stars and rated Me Before You 5 Stars!! ALL 5 of EM!

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If you’ve read it let me know if you loved it as much as I did in the comments. Especially if you’re a caretaker, nurse, or a person with disabilities. (I think she did a pretty good job of describing all of the BS people with disabilities go through but even though I’m a nurse I’m an AB so I’m not an authority on this. )

Oh and Spoiler ALERT! There is a movie adaptation coming out on June 3rd and it looks sooooo good. Check out the trailer here: Me Before You and remember to  #LiveBoldly