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You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins | Thoughts

Published in: 2017
Format read in: ebook
Location: US, Ghana, India
Rating: 3/5Why I read it: I hadn't heard of this book until I was browsing through Goodreads Recommend lists. I was craving some Asian fiction and this sounded good from the synopsis.One line review: A decent picture of an Indian American life that focuses more on familial relationships and how the different generations adapt, but one that does not do their characters justice or truly focus on one theme.Who should read it: If you're a Mitali Perkins fan or want to understand more about immigrants, you may enjoy this. There's something about putting words on a page in private that makes me feel powerful in public.Thoughts:Sisters Tara and Sonia move to Flushing, New York from London when their father gets a job there. Until then, they were Londonites to the core, but were now ready to accept New York as their new home. Tara was especially good at imbibing new cultures and even transforming herself pretty rapidl…

Brown Girl Dreaming and Garvey's Choice | Thoughts

Recently, I read two verse books in quick succession, which is very unusual for me, because I don't read a lot of verse. The first book I read - Garvey's Choice - was so beautiful and worth every word that I quickly moved on to the very next verse book that I could find - Brown Girl Dreaming. The latter is a very popular book and most of you may have already read it, but I haven't seen much of Garvey's Choice around. Or maybe I've missed its hype. If you haven't read either, I hope you'll pick one of them to read, and oh, don't let the verse tag get to you, these books are incredibly readable.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Published in: 2014
Format read in: ebook
Location: Ohio, South Carolina, New York
Rating: 4/5

Why I read it: After reading tons of great reviews of this book, it was simply begging to be read.

One line review: Great memoir in verse and often very moving.

Who should read it: Anyone who loves verse or is interested in an account of growing up right during and after the peak of the Civil Rights Movement.

About: Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become. (From Goodreads)

Quick Thoughts
  • Despite following the widespread positive reviews and discussions around this book, I didn’t realize (or forgot) until I started reading that this book was in verse. 
  • This is a huge book but because it’s in verse, it's also a fast huge book. Kinda.
  • I did find the poems very accessible
  • This book has a family tree! I'm a fan of books with family trees and love looking at names and wondering at their story.
  • I never thought poems could be so moving. But I’ll stand corrected on this.
  • This book starts from Jacqueline’s birth and carries on into her teen years. It documents her growing up in the post-Jim Crow era, her relationship with her parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, loss of people close to her, and how she became a writer. I got so invested in her story that I had to find out what happened to several people in her family after the book ends.

Garvey's Choice by Nikki Grimes

Published in: 2016
Format read in: ebook
Location: Unstated or I missed it
Rating: 4/5

Why I read it: This was a chance discovery in the Libby catalog

One line review: An excellent middle-grade book about bullying, parental expectations, and self-confidence.

Who should read it: Anyone. I’m tempted to leave it at that. 

About: Garvey’s father has always wanted Garvey to be athletic, but Garvey is interested in astronomy, science fiction, reading—anything but sports. Feeling like a failure, he comforts himself with food. Garvey is kind, funny, smart, a loyal friend, and he is also overweight, teased by bullies, and lonely. When his only friend encourages him to join the school chorus, Garvey’s life changes. The chorus finds a new soloist in Garvey, and through chorus, Garvey finds a way to accept himself, and a way to finally reach his distant father—by speaking the language of music instead of the language of sports. (From Goodreads)
Excitement beaming from Dad’s face, he bounces in, palms a basketball. “Look what I got for you, son! Want to go work up a sweat?” Who’s he talking to? After all these years, you’d think he’d start to know me. Will he ever stop trying to make me someone I’m not?
Quick Thoughts
  • This is a very short book and is also the book that has convinced me to try more books in verse.
  • The poems are oh so moving and so beautiful.
  • This book covers a lot of ground - being overweight and dealing with the constant teasing, bullying, inability to connect with a dad who wants Garvey to play basketball and not be who he is. 
  • I certainly wasn’t expecting this book to win over me. There are lots of good messages in this book, both for kids and their parents.