If you're new to #COLLABOREADS, welcome!
Amber and I started this fun little online book club back in May 2015, and after a summer without it, we're bringing it back to life again this month! We pick a theme every month, you pick a book that fits (we all read different books! it's fun that way!) and then all link up and share our thoughts (with a handy-dandy R.E.A.D.S. acronym usually--see below!) and link up and become BFFs. You can read more about this whole thing here.
This month's theme was: An Author of a Different Ethnicity
I chose: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
What part of the book could you NOT get enough of? The style of this book is unlike any other I've ever read. Anne Bogel describes it as "memoir-in-verse" -- it reads like free-flowing poetry with little rhyme or rhythm, but I really actually liked it. It felt simultaneously much less polished and also much more clear than standard prose somehow, and I loved reading it. I've started writing more of my own poetry in this style, and I love that it breaks all rules and feels natural and as random as our own brains.
How did you relate to/care for the characters? What's your thought on the plot line and twists and turns? The story is told from Jackie's point-of-view, and you follow her life from childhood onward, meeting her neighbors and relatives and friends as they come and go. Her life is drastically different than mine has been, but I wanted to know more about her, wanted to hear the stories that shaped her, wanted to put myself in her shoes, which this book made it incredibly easy to do. Her experiences feeling torn between two homes is one I relate to so strongly in my own way, and the way she talked about the members of her family made me want to write more about my own. It's less plot-driven and more story-driven, bouncing from memory to event to story to thought to reflection to memory again. If you're someone who loves a strong, driving plot, this isn't the book for you.
What other books are like this one? If none, did it remind you of a particular TV or movie with it's themes and characters? Does it serendipitous-ly line-up with things going on in your life or the news right now? I don't know of another book like this one, since the style is so unique. With everything that's been going on in our nation, I'm grateful for voices like Woodson's that share what it's like to grow up with brown skin in our country. It's enlightening and helpful, and I've learned so much about my own privilege through reading the story from someone who wasn't treated the same way. For other books written by black authors, I can strongly recommend Americanah (wrote about it here) and Between the World and Me (wrote about it here).
You know you judged this book by the cover. What did you think of it? How did it relate to the contents of the novel? And the font and layout of the pages? I read this one on my Kindle (I hated the thought of e-readers but my Grand Cayman trip earlier this month made me bite the bullet...and now I can't stop!) so the cover mattered a lot less than it would for a physical book, but from what I've seen of the cover around the Internet, it's perfect! I'm in love with the fact that I can shrink the font size on my Kindle to get more of the words on my page and flip through the book at what seems so much faster. Technology!
How many out of five do you give this book? Would you recommend this book to a friend? 4/5 stars. A definite recommendation if you can handle the unique style of writing. I don't think it would be for everyone, but as a poetry lover, I found it perfect for this memoir. I've also heard that the audio version of this is amazing since the author reads it herself (and I'm a HUGE fan of poetry being read out loud!) so I would suggest checking that out!
I'm really loving reading books from a diverse range of authors. I've started keeping track of what I've read from authors of other ethnicities on my Goodreads, and you can find that shelf here if you want to check it out! I would LOVE to hear your recommendations of the best books you've read by authors different than you (whether that's because of race or something else!). Thank you for being part of this community that seeks to grow, understand, empathize, and connect despite (and because of) our differences. It's a gift to know we can have conversations like these in this space.