I got to read several great books during the month of June once I just let go of trying to read in a certain manner. I got through most of the books I read this month through audiobooks. Each link will take you to the full review, if there is no link then the review is coming soon. If I happen to persuade you to purchase any of these books you can get them at Eso Won Books.
Layover by David Bell
I like that the pace of this book is very slow and easy to follow along. The narrator was great to listen to and their voice was smooth and easy going. The way that characters were slowly introduced into the story was well done and smooth.
I like how each scene gets its own chapter and there is space to take each of these scenes in. I really enjoy how you can get through the chapters quickly and it makes you feel like you are reading this book quickly. I also like how it transitions smoothly between a chapter of Joshua and Morgan, Joshua on his own, and Kimberly.
I really like how the book goes back and forth between the story from Joshua’s perspective and Kimberly’s perspective. I like how you get to know not just their ties to the story of Morgan but also their lives beyond that. I really enjoy the moment that their two lives get wrapped up with each other because of the mystery. I liked how the two stories came together and the reasons why Kimberly was searching not just for Morgon but also for Joshua now.
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
I like how this book handles the topic of HIV and how this book doesn’t dismiss this topic. While this is a lighthearted book it doesn’t dismiss the reality of being HIV positive which is something that I enjoyed. This is a story that shows that HIV+ teenagers can lead happy lives and fulfilling lives without worrying about being treated in a poor matter due to their status. I think that it is important to show these types of stories and show that there is more than one narrative for HIV+ people.
I really enjoy the way this book shows Simone struggling with her queer identity and everything that she feels the need to hide from others. I thought that the way that this was portrayed was done quite well. I like how she thinks about her sexuality and how she doesn’t like not knowing how to define herself. I like how you see her support her friends and being so happy that they have a place that they belong in but wishes that she had the same thing for herself.
I like the way this book openly talks about sex and sexuality, it doesn’t skirt around the topic or make it something that is taboo to talk about. I love how much is in here that can educate teenagers about safe sex and more. There is so much that isn’t taught in a high school health class and it includes things about queer sex.
A Song Below Water by Bethany C Morrow
I really enjoyed all aspects of this book from the themes, characters, writing style, etc. I love fantasy books that mix aspects of our world into their world. Its a great escape while still taking time to reflect on what is brought up in the book. I really enjoy getting a chance to look into the mythology of this book and hearing from the author to learn more.
The ending of this book is a shock and such a twist. I love the way this book reveals Effie and Tavia’s secrets to others and to the reader.
While this book is a fantasy book it still connects to the way that Black people are marginalized and silenced. I like how they discuss the way that sirens are not welcome in their world and how they have been pushed to the side. I also thought it was important to note the way sirens were always Black girls and the silencing of the sirens using silencing collars or other methods.
Panorama by Ross Victory
I think its always great to read memoirs written by people you know and not just famous people you admire. I love how you get to know the person on a deeper level and learn intimate parts of their lives. This was a book that I couldn’t put down once I started reading it.
You know how writing can be a form of therapy for people, this book feels like thats exactly what it was for the author. That was something that I really liked about this book as you can see as the author processes each scene and different events of his life. I like that you can feel a sense of relief at the close of each chapter and there’s a transition to a new event or moment in his life.
Something else I really enjoy about this book is how each chapter gives me a different scene. Each chapter slowly brings me through Ross’s time in Korea as if you are watching this play out in real time. I love the banter between the people who are in the story and the humor that is included throughout the book.
Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet Mock
I read Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness a few years ago and knew that I had to read this one immediately. It has taken me a while to get back to this book but I am so glad that I returned to it. I decided to listen to it on audio while following along with the book and that was a great choice.
Autobiographies as memoirs are something that are a little difficult to review as I don’t want to review someone’s life. I did want to speak about this one though as I think it is something that is so important to read. I learned just as much from this book as I learned from Janet Mock’s other book.
As I listened this book I paused it many times to put a sticky note in the physical book. There were so many important parts shared and so many things to think about.
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
This book follows Michael from his childhood up to his life in university. This is a coming of age story of a gay mixed (Jamaican and Greek-Cypriot) Black teenager who is finding who he is and does so through poetry and drag.
It is great that this book starts from Michael’s early childhood years and shows how even then he is trying to figure out who he is. He knows that he would rather play with dolls and kiss the boys and he understands that it makes him different than other boys. His peers then turn against him because they suspect that he is gay and this is the moment in which we first hear him say out loud that he is gay.
We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez
I’ve only ever thought of the U.S. as my home. My parents are from Mexico and El Salvador but my mom came here when she was a toddler. My dad remembers El Salvador as he came here when he was older. I read books like this one not only to learn but also to reflect and really think about the privilege that I have being born in the U.S., having parents who speak English, and having parents who became U.S. citizens when I was a kid. I do not know the experience of migrants from any country, I know my parents experience and even that I find limited. The only way for me to learn more is through listening to others and it is important that I stop and listen.
I really enjoy how Pulga, Pequena, and Chico are keeping secrets from each other and their family. What i liked about their secrets is that the same person is at the root of these secrets and all of their problems. Something else that I like about this book is the pacing and how long these days seem. I think that as you read you get a sense of how long this time feels for the characters as they live these things.
I think that it is important that this book shows the reality of immigration and the many challenges that come with it. It was important to see three different scenarios as to what can happen throughout that journey and they included the addition of Pequena being female and what that meant for her. I don’t want to spoil the ending but I felt that so much of that is impactful and important to think about when we hear stories of immigration. I thought it was important that it also relayed the reasons why people were fleeing their countries and what kept them moving forward.
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus
I listened to this book on audio as I followed along with it through the physical book. I have found this is a better way for me to read and be able to keep up with everything.
I love that you get a scene that is packed with emotions right from the start of the book. I thought that Audre’s feelings as she is taken from Neri and forced to move to the U.S. were raw and real. I think that each scene that is included in this book that is meant to be emotional is realistic and you feel the characters emotions along with them. There is never a moment in which I question how Audre or Mabel are feeling as the author is transparent with the reader regarding their feelings.
I think it was impactful that this book included the complexity of having a relationship with God and being queer. It wasn’t until I started picking up queer books written by people of color that I started seeing the intersection of religion and queerness come into play. I always felt that it was a large piece that was missing in things that I read and I felt that queer people couldn’t have a relationship with God. I always felt that we had to choose one or the other so seeing characters who manage to hold both a religious identity and a queer identity really speaks to me and helps me re-examine my relationship with religion.
Something else that this book touches upon is health and what it means for a high school student to have poor health. I also thought that it was important to include that the doctors didn’t have a definitive answer to what was happening to Mabel. I thought that was a good way to show the disparity in the medical community when it comes to treating Black patients and how often times they are overlooked. I thought that the questioning of this illness and Audre’s thoughts on medicine are included and her distrust of the medical system in the U.S. I thought this was another good way to show the reasoning behind why Black people and other people of color have this distrust of the medical system and where it stems from.