brown girl dreaming

#blacklivesmatter is everywhere these days, and seemingly everyone has an opinion about it. And the fight is ugly. If you had asked me even 2 years ago if I thought we would be living in the 60s again, I would have laughed and thought you meant fashion or the MidCentury Mod furniture design craze.

But nothing about this is funny. People aren’t just getting emotionally wounded, people are dying. And they aren’t just being killed by Joe Blow off the street, but by those sworn to protect us. No matter what side of the fence you’re on…that’s a very scary thing to think about.

As a white woman in America, I mostly keep my mouth shut. While I support #blacklivesmatter, this isn’t my time to speak. My voice is not the one that needs to be heard.

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Adult Booklr chose Jacqueline Woodson’s brown girl dreaming for our August Book Club and it could not be more poignant. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it, since it is a story written in poems instead of prose, but it ended up being incredibly beautiful. It is also a perfect book to release right now. It not only speaks to Black Culture, but it did a lot of good to me as well.

The rest of my review is written, obviously, from a white woman’s perspective. I have not been in the fight. I cannot understand what you are going through. I would love to hear your feelings on this beautiful book, and I hope you will share them with me.

brown girl dreaming is essentially Woodson’s memoir, written from the viewpoint of her as a child in the 1960s. Through her vivid poetry, she talks about growing up in Ohio, South Carolina, and New York, and the differences between prejudices and struggles in each location. She also lays out the foundation of learning to write, her family life, and just growing up as a whole.

Even though the words were spoken with a child’s voice, the wisdom in them was so pronounced. This was a child who saw the world through her pencil–every moment was a word waiting to be written. Her composition notebook was her tool to sort, file, organize the world around her and try to make sense of everything that was happening. For the reader, that notebook, in turn, helps us understand what is happening in our similar world today.

I couldn’t relate to everything she wrote. I grew up in a privileged home, with both parents, in the same house until the end of high school. I very much understand what people mean when they talk about White Privilege now. I can’t say I have never struggled…they are just different struggles.

There were, however, some poems that made my heart expand until I thought it was going to explode. Some made me want to weep. The ones about reading and writing, especially–not knowing how to use those gifts as a kid but just knowing they were there and she had to use them somehow.

Then there were the poems that really spoke to me on a human level. Those shook me. They are the reason I’m writing the review this way–because I really wasn’t sure how I was going to approach it. One of the last poems in the book was this one, called “how to listen #10”:

 

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I think that is the most important thing as a white person in America right now, because we are privileged, whether we can see it or not. It’s a hard thing to admit sometimes–pride is a hard thing to let go of. But we just have to shut up and listen.

 

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March Photo Challenge: Quote

There’s a blog post I’ve been trying to write for months now, but every time I sit down to write it, I end up trashing it for one reason or another. I wrote another version of it the other day, and it sits in my journal…unfinished.

And then today, when I was browsing Tumblr, one of my favorite current poets, Tyler Knott Gregson, posted his Daily Haiku on Love. And it is right along the same lines of thought that I’ve been trying to write, so it’s perfect for today’s Photo Challenge post.

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I have a lot of thoughts on this poem–I both agree, and disagree with it. I disagree, because as human beings, we are not the same. Absolutely not. And that’s why I couldn’t write it out all in one color. I couldn’t erase all of our differences–differences in sexuality, gender, race. Those foundations form the decisions we make, how we think and live and move in our world. Life would be incredibly boring if we were not different from each other. There would be no conversation and maybe no love. There might be peace, sure, but what kind of empty life would it be?

The part of the quote I do agree with wholeheartedly is the middle section. I almost wrote it in capitals. LOVE IS LOVE AND LOVE IS LOVE.

It seems like the simplest concept to me, yet this is the one thing we seem to struggle the most with in our society today. There are so many conditions on love. We can only love people in our own culture, or our own sexuality, or our own color. We can only love people who read the same books as us, or have never been divorced, or want the same life as we do. And what if the people we love have a crisis or change their beliefs or need help? How can we love them then?

I have been reading and reading and reading about so many things in the last year. The more I hear about, the more it goes into the “I need to understand this” file in my brain. That file is pretty much overflowing. There is so much pain in this world and always more hate than love, it seems. I’m not naive enough to really think that the answer is as simple as “Let’s all just love each other!” But wouldn’t it be nice if the answer WERE as simple as that? Read a little, learn a little, listen a little. Open your heart a little.

I can’t fix it for anyone else but myself. And sometimes I’m not always sure that I’m asking the right questions, and I often hesitate for fear of offending someone with my ignorance. But I do want to learn more about the things I do not know. Because the more I know, the more I can open my mind and my heart.

And maybe that is naive. But, LOVE IS LOVE AND LOVE IS LOVE. We may not all be the same, but THAT is why I love you.

Teaser Tuesday 12/16/2014

 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

“Far over the misty mountains cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away ere break of day

To seek the pale enchanted gold.”

–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

 

Pardon this brief interruption of my regularly scheduled book reading. I could not resist the pull, with all the trailers and cosplay and everything else happening today. I am going to try and get through one more reading of this wonderful story before Husband and I go see the last movie tomorrow night. Can it be done? Oh, it must, it must!

 

Teaser Tuesday 12/2/2014

 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

“If there was a clandestine operation in motion that he didn’t know about, he damn well wanted to know why. He’d have to tread lightly in the halls of an agency dedicated to secrecy but if something were flying under the radar, he’d dig it out.”

–E. Duke Vincent, The Camelot Conspiracy

Teaser Tuesday 11/25/2014

 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

“In his dreams the dead came burning, gowned in swirling green flames. Jaime danced around them with a golden sword, but for every one he struck down two more arose to take his place.”

 

–George RR Martin, A Storm of Swords

Teaser Tuesday 11/18/2014

 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“The call came from behind him, softer than a whisper, but strong too. Can a shout be silent?”

–George RR Martin, A Clash of Kings

 

I know guys, I know…I owe you so many posts. My birthday sucked all of my energy the last few days, and I completely hit a blogging block. So much for NaBloWriMo! I had so many ideas, but they are all gone now. I may still do a few of the themes, but probably won’t do all of them. Bummer.

Fairies: The Myths, Legends, & Lore

I’ve always been fascinated by mythology, and I think that is what most draws me to fantasy. I love the way authors use similar themes throughout to weave these stories that, even though it is fiction…there is this seemingly thread of truth to it all. It is all so familiar, and those “truths” go back and back and back so far that we really don’t know if they are fact.

As William Faulkner said, “Facts and truth really don’t have much to do with each other.”

Skye Alexander’s book on the fae was very educational and informative. I’m on my fourth page of journal notes today, which might be a record. She covers all of the basics, from Tinkerbell to Jinn (what we know more commonly as Genie). The myths and legends for all of the fairies get broken down by country.

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I have mixed feelings about the structure of this book. I probably would have liked it more if I hadn’t read it on a Kindle. I think this is one of those books you need to have in your hand, because there are just so many formatting changes, and pictures, and insets. The paperwhite just couldn’t do it justice. Plus…I happen to know that this has a gorgeous purple cover (the Goodreads pic doesn’t do it justice), and ooooh do I want it so badly.

However, even knowing that my reading was tainted by ebook format, I still have some hesitations. This does read very much like a college research paper, which unfortunately means it is a bit dry. There were subject headings every single paragraph, it seemed. Bullet points were extremely prevalent. I am glad it was well cited, but part of the reason my journal is so full is because she almost overdid it with quotes from other authors. Don’t get me wrong…I love when authors use quotations…to a point. But, I think it also detracts attention from the main body of work, so there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

I did really enjoy the insets, and I think I would have liked them even more if I had seen them in book format, rather than on the kindle. These were little stories about real life fairy sightings, examples to prove what Skye was describing. These made her research much more interesting.

Overall, I think this would be a wonderful thing for any fan of lore, fantasy, mythology, fairy tales, etc to have on their shelves. Also, if you are an author, you should definitely have this to flip through as a quick reference. It would be really handy just to pick this up when you need to know something about Irish legend, quickly. The book doesn’t have anything super in depth on any of the subjects, but it is really interesting basic information. I’m adding it to my To Buy list, and I’ll probably read her other books. I know she has one on Mermaids that I’m for sure going to check out!