WHAT WE CARRY

What We Carry

Maya Shanbhag Lang

WHAT WE CARRY by Maya Shanbhag Lang is a memoir I will recommend to every mother/daughter/person. This memoir is filled with Lang’s deep reflections on growing up, becoming a mom, and eventually caring for her mother as she fell ill from Alzehimer’s. The chapters are short, the reflections powerful. I love the honesty of the author and how she gives us a look into how her opinions and feelings changed overtime. Being a mother can be such a lonely journey and this memoir made a big impact. I loved that I brought it with me on vacation because two other family members read it and loved it too. We were able to discuss this book and talk about the things that really resonated with us. I want to say more but honestly, this book really speaks for itself. I loved this one, very much.

#MayaShanbhagLang #WhatWeCarry #Memoir #Motherhood #AlwaysReading #Bookstagram #BookReflection #Bookstagrammer #summerreading

amari and the night brothers by b.b. alston

Unforgetting by Roberto Lovato

Unforgetting

Roberto Lovato

 

I can’t stop thinking about this book. The experience was almost jarring. Every time Lovato turned over a stone to reveal a new truth, I could feel it lodge itself into my head, burrowing deeper and deeper each time this book made its way into my thoughts. When I was watching TV, reading America is Not the Heart, talking to my mom, this book would somehow just come up.

Lovato seeks to reframe the Salvadoran American narrative that was taken from them by the vapid news media and repugnant politicians. Lovato dismantles everything you thought you knew about MS-13. He dismantles everything you thought you knew about American Imperialism in El Salvador. Because sure, you know it’s bad. Of course you do, but just how bad? And you need to know, you have to know. Because it is your history too. This book is so aptly titled. I got it from the library, and I bought a copy for myself. I know I’m going to need it, on my shelf forever, reminding me to never forget.

Lovato has a stark message and reminder for us all, “Right now, regardless of who wins the elections, Salvadorans have a lesson to teach, not just about overcoming and resilience, but about revolution,” he says, with a warning. “We’re not going to ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ our way out of this one.” (LATimes) Let’s hope we listen. @laurathestudent thank you for championing this book here. I would’ve never picked it up if it weren’t for you. And thank you so much for letting me discuss it with you. And really just thank you for being you.

unforgetting

Jesus Land: A Memoir

Jesus Land: A Memoir

Julia Scheeres

Content Warning: Sexual assault, racism, abuse.

I’ve been sitting on reviewing this book for a while, wondering if I should even post about it. And then I realized that I started this account to document all the books I read because I loved the idea of having a visual tracker. I also feel like it’s important to share my own personal thoughts, even just so I can say it out loud.

This book was a brutal read. Julia Scheeres is no doubt a talent, bringing the settings of her childhood and adolescence to life in visceral ways that make you feel as though you are sitting in a corner bearing witness to it all, making it a really uncomfortable read. Between the brutality and racism her adopted Black brothers had to endure at the hands of their white, evangelical parents or the abuse they suffered through the “Jesus Camp” in the Carribean, it was pretty relentless. But it was the sexual assault she had to live through at hands of several different men that shook me the most.

They say 1 in 4 women has been assaulted, but I know it’s higher. Sexual assault exists on a gradient, and there are so many areas of gray when we talk about sexual assualt and consent. The passages where she describes the assault were so triggering for me because she describes it with surgical precision that made it seem out of body, a common survival tactic amongst survivors. And even as I write this now, I do it with some detachment, like that’s not me, I don’t know that, but I do. Many of us do. And when I was reading this book, I was really unprepared for it.

And I write this not wanting to take away from this book or be like “don’t read it.” She is astoundingly honest in telling the story of her and her brothers, it will never leave your mind. And there is so much love here, of course, because ultimately she is writing this for her brother David. Maybe if I had better content warnings going in the experience would have hit differently. But I brought my own personal lens into this, and it shaped my experience in a way I didn’t expect.

Jesus Land A Memoir Julia Scheeres

Memorial Drive

Memorial Drive

According to TIME magazine this book is one of the best nonfiction books of 2020, and for good reason. I read it weeks ago but reflecting now I think I’m ready to share my thoughts.

Natasha Trethewey’s book Memorial Drive is one I’ll think about for a long time. Trethewey is a Poet Laureate and it definitely shows. She weaves metaphors into all the things she sees in her life as though they are somehow premonitions for the tragedy she would face at 19 years old, when her mother was murdered by her former stepfather. It made me look at the small instances in my life much more closely, as though everything is an omen and if you don’t look close enough you’ll miss the signs. At one point, Trethewey writes in the second person, which is hard to pull off, but it is done in such a way that you hold your breath with suspense and when it switches back to first person you gasp for air. At times I felt voyeuristic reading this, especially as the novel reaches its climax, because although you know what happens at the end it is still made all the more devastating when you finally reach it. I picked up this book because ever since I became a mom I’ve been interested in reading about other parental experiences, but if you are drawn to reading memoirs I hope you pick this up. It’s gorgeously written and is a testament to the love shared between a mom and daughter and also the love that can be lost or never found due to devastating trauma.

memorial drive book and yellow flower

Beyond The Gender Binary

Beyond The Gender Binary

Alok Vaid-Menon

“Gender is a story, not just a word. There are as many ways to be a woman as there are woman. There are as many ways to be a man as there are men. There are as many ways to be nonbinary as there are nonbinary people. This complexity is not chaos, it just is”

This tiny book fell on me like an anvil. In my quest to learn more about people that are different from me I picked up this book by the incomparable Alok Vaid-Menon. Here, they pick apart the arguments made by people in power that delegitimize the existence of gender non-conforming people. It was very informative for me and I highly suggest you support this artist and get this book for yourself too. They want to create a better future where gender is playful and colorful, where people everywhere are safe to be who they are and whoever they choose to be. The gender binary benefits no one. ⠀

Alok Vaid-Menon teaches creative writing workshops and sometimes asks: “What part of yourself did you have to destroy in order to survive this world?” That sentence gutted me, because I know we can all answer that question in some way. Imagine living in a world where that question didn’t have to exist. Thank you for the stunning education

#books #constantlylearning #bookstagram #bookstagrammer

Everything Sad is Untrue

Everything Sad is Untrue

“Mrs. Miller says I have lost the plot, and am now just making lists of things that happened to fill space. But I replied that she is beholden to a Western mode of storytelling that I do not accept.”

Blending Persian Mythology with memoir, this story is based on the life of Daniel Nayeri. He was born in Iran and at age 8 immigrated to Oklahoma after spending a couple years in Italy as a refugee.

This story made me laugh out loud and it also made me cry, which to me are the best kinds of stories. This felt really unique in the way it was told. He frequently addresses the reader, and uses second person. There are no chapters and not really a central plot in a traditional sense but just stories upon stories upon stories that all blend together and get mixed up, but like Mrs. Miller I am beholden to a Western mode of storytelling, something I am seeking to disrupt. At the end of the day this is a love letter to his mother, an unstoppable force. There are so many hilarious and on-point one line zingers, for example, “Karen was kind in the way most Karens are if kindness doesn’t cost them anything.” There are so many more that will make you laugh or crush your heart.

EVERYTHING SAD IS UNTRUE is probably going to crack my top ten reads of the year. It is being marketed as middle grade, but I don’t really think so. I think it could be more YA and honestly, I don’t think it really belongs in any age group. It is a story for everyone. Fans of Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime will surely love this one too.

#EverythingSadisUntrue #DanielNayeri #Memoirs

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