A Return to Arms aka An Inside View of Intersections and How All Black Lives Matter

I rated this book:  * * * * *

A Return to Arms is the story of Toya a black lesbian activist trying to navigate her way through both life and the passages of the Black Lives Matter movement. Her life is a daily struggle of a young person trying to convince the rest of America that Black Lives Matter while attempting to convince the Organization, Rise Up of which she is an active member, that ALL Black Lives Matter. That women, queer people, children, men, single, straight, asexual, all of the intersections of Black Lives must Matter.

As Toya navigates her way through the rising tension and societal that arises after the killing of an unarmed teen by a police officer and the subsequent unrest she deals with the uncertainty of her relationship with another activist who believes that the cause must come before anything else, even her love life.

I hate spoilers so I hope you can get the gyst of the story from what I’ve written above but in two sentences: A Return To Arms is a love story, Love of self, love of community. And a story about the measures so many under represented activists go through to demand equality both in their communities and in the world.

I’m a Sheree L Greer stan. I LOVE everything she writes. I’m sharing that with full disclosure mostly because during a conversation with Sheree about why I don’t really like to review books by people I love, I worry that that love will interfere with me giving an honest unbiased review and she advised me to do the review as authentically as I could, “You call yourself Authentically Adrien be authentic.” Or something like that. Anyways,  This book is phenomenal. It is her best work. It is the work that I sit back and wait patiently to be dissected by  major blogs. It is the book that should land her on the New York Times Bestsellers List. (If it doesn’t you hating)

From the opening paragraph through the last sentence THE LAST SENTENCE I was hooked. I followed Toya’s story like my life depended on it possibly because I am Toya, Black, Queer, Woman, Activist. But also because Toya is so well written. I read somewhere once that an author’s job is to make you feel something and OH did we Feel something. We felt ALL the things. Including the music. I couldn’t quite pinpoint the words to the soundtrack of this book but I could feel the rhythm in the center of my back. I could sense the tempo under my palms as I inhaled this novel from tense movement to sexual moment to heartbreaking earth shattering moment.

I lived through these characters. I understood every single one of them and I even empathized for the characters that I hated. Sheree’s writing makes sure that you understand and relate to both antagonists and protagonists alike. It took me to the different settings and left me with vivid guttural images of the protest scenes. If you have never been to a rally you can officially make that claim after you read this book and I hope that it will help you to understand the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement if you don’t already.

Be prepared to have some interesting dialogue after you read this book and if you know Sheree personally and you text her in the middle of the night to say things like “Seriously? I hate that dude.” or “OH MY GOD.” Let her know that you didn’t get the idea to do so from me.

 

Purchase A Return to Arms Here.

Read more by/about Sheree L Greer Here.

I received this book to review in exchange for an advanced copy of the book. (Ya’ll know I like books!)

Aspirations

When I was five I wanted to be a Ballerina, and a Princess, and I wanted to learn to swim so that I could be an oceanographer and swim with the dolphins.

And when I was ten I wanted to be a fashion model, and a dermatologist so I could fix my brother’s skin, and to be the most beautiful bride ever.

At 17 I only wanted to be able to go with my friends to the movies and not be able to relate to the woman on the screen who had just gotten violated and was no longer whole.

I didn’t wanna be a tragedy.

Now I’m 30  and over the years I took enough ballet classes to be considered a ballerina, had my picture in enough magazines to be considered a model, learned enough about hygiene moisturizing and diet to call myself a dermatologist.

Learned to swim. -Went to sea world.-Swam with dolphins.-Oceanographer.

And I am a Princess.
And
In the very near future when I marry my GIRLfriend in her eyes I WILL be the prettiest bride ever.

I am funny and I am smart and I am loved and I am accomplished but no matter how much I accomplish I will never be WHOLE.

I wasn’t going to share this poem today but every time I see a picture of Bill Cosby circulating I think of all the women who wanted to be an actress, then wanted to act opposite Bill Cosby, and then wanted to not have been violated by Bill Cosby… and I think how fucking awful it must be to have to have gone through something as traumatic as this then to have millions of people chiming in throwing in reasons why this just DID not happen to them. Or stating that if it did it’s only being used now as some sort of conspiracy to bring down an icon.

No, I wasn’t there but I vowed at a very early age to believe the victim because I personally know how many people don’t believe the victim and how that makes you feel. How it feels when the police ask you the same questions over and over again because how could he possibly know what tv show you were watching and why would he leave his naked wife for a child. I remember the times I pondered being dead over having to look at my father in the face knowing that he believed that I was just a fast tailed little girl instead of someone who went to sleep and woke up with a man who was supposed to be on top of his naked adult wife, already on top of and inside of her.

Rapists, molesters, predators, and abusers come in all shapes and sizes. Many of them are married and in high profile positions. They are your teachers, your police officers, your pastors, your dentists, and some of them are even your favorite jello pudding pushers.