‘Praise Song for the Butterflies’ Review

71c5TOjcPSLI am interested and devoted to all things from the continent of Africa. I find myself watching video after video on youtube concerning all things African. I love to watch videos about the different cultures, languages, practices. I get knowledge from travel vlogs, documentaries, and videos from native Africans speaking about their home. This book is exactly what I needed. It shined a light on to a ritual that is merely male serving and evil. I learned about the ritual servitude/slavery that is trokosi last year and it broke my heart. These rituals always seem to involve a girl/woman giving her very life for the idea of luck or idea of being able to evade bad luck. It gives those that practice this ritual the idea that the sacrifice of someone’s life for the betterment of others is the only way to stop the so-called ‘bad luck’. To me, sacrifice is a personal commitment, not the idea of offering up another person’s life. Sacrifice your OWN life.  It’s always interesting to me when people think they can romance karma’s retreat. This book takes you on a journey to see how this practice trokosi ravished lives but at the same time helped others find their purpose. This is a story about forgiveness. This is also a story about pure evil left unchecked. This is a story about the centuries of hatred toward black girls/women bodies and how they are used as footstools in many cultures. This is also a story about how your very own family can be the authors of your darkest hour.

Trokosi is mainly practiced in Ghana, Benin, and Togo. Aside from being a black woman who has given birth to a black girl, learning about this practice personally touches me because these countries are in my DNA. Benin, Togo, and Ghana show up being the highest percentages in my DNA makeup according to ancestrydna.com. I can’t help but wonder if any of my ancestors shared similar experiences as the young girls in this book. Ms. McFadden did a great job describing the mind of a young child and how evil creeps in to shift their perception forever. She shines a light on how lies, even little white ones, can destroy someone’s entire world. The theme of guilt is very strong in this story as well. You are able to see how everyone seemed to carry guilt in different ways. She captured the purest heart of a child. Tears were shed. Tears were shed not just due to the pain displayed but also the hope you will find in this book. If you are triggered by the mistreatment of children/women, approach this book while giving yourself self-care and take your time.

I believe in life and all that represents. I’m not really sure if I believe in bad luck or good luck. I won’t deny often wondering if this so-called bad luck has taken hold over parts of my life. However, I believe life and bad/good luck should not be used interchangeably. Life can often look like tides at sea. Sometimes gifts are brought in through the tide and other times hard lessons. Its ever moving, ever changing, ever evolving. It is up to us to constantly adjust to how we react to said life. Sometimes there are calming ripples and other times the waves of life will try to rip you apart. Yet, you still manage to find a reason to smile in the midst of it all. This is a story about how Abeo’s life was turned upside down because life happened and someone else decided she had to pay with her innocence. It’s touching, honest, and painful. It’s all the things life is made of.

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“Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi: Book Review

 

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UK book cover

 

I decided to finish reading the last couple of pages of this book at work during my extended lunch break. And, now I’m in tears. This book took me on an emotional roller coaster. Given the racial climate here in the states, “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi was almost too much for me to bear. At times, I had to put the book down to catch my breath. Homegoing is about two sisters with very different journeys on two different continents. One sister, Effia,  was married off to a British slave master while the other sister, Esi, was sold into slavery forcing her to brave the middle passage. We go on a journey from the Ghana coast to the Harlem concrete.

Each chapter was from the point of view from a family member from each half sister’s lineage. Yaa Gyasi really delves into how everyone played a part in the slave trade; the British, missionaries, and the Africans. I cringed as people were forced into slavery so easily due to any battle lost. Sometimes I wonder if things would have been different if the Africans knew of the horrors their people would face in America. Even though this book spoke of the degradation of slavery, each chapter was also peppered with beautiful sad love stories. I learned many things about the British and how they interacted with the African people. They often married the local women while on the coast to do their slave trading business because they were away from their homes for long periods of time. I also learned about how superstitious Africans were and how those ideas can shape someone’s life into a nightmare. Marriage was also an important theme in this book. I got a clear understanding of how marriage was approached back in the 18 century and how it changed throughout the generations.

My only gripe with this book, along with many others, is that it’s not long enough. I needed more details about the lives of each character. Basically, Yaa Gyasi left us wanting more. The love of Kojo and Anna was the most beautiful and tragic of them all. This couple deserves a book all their own. I was amazed at the strength of the characters. I often wondered if I were put in these situations if I would have survived. Would I still be able to love? I’m still not sure. This book is as beautiful as it’s UK book cover. I give it 5 stars out of 5.

“The Unseen World” Book Review

26530317Ada has to be the coolest laid back 12 year old ever. (aside from my daughter, of course) David, her father, is an excellent computer scientist who homeschools Ada. He takes her to work with him in the computer lab and allows her to be influenced by his co-workers. Due to her exposure to his world, she is a lot smarter than other kids her age. After David develops Alzheimer’s disease, it’s discovered that his past is quite controversial. It seems that he is not who they thought he was. Virtual reality also plays a huge part in this book.

This book receives high ratings on Goodreads and rave reviews on youtube. I was a bit skeptical, but I decided to place it on hold at my local library. It turns out that Liz Moore proves to be an excellent storyteller. Usually, it takes me a week to finish reading a book.  It only took me a few days to finish this one. This book is quite long, but you won’t feel it dragging. The pacing is perfection. I never felt bored. There were no filler chapters, in my opinion. Every piece of information was vital to the story. The chapters were short so you always got the feeling of progression. I really enjoyed the relationships between humans and machines in this story. The theme of love overlaps throughout this book: the love of father and daughter, computer love, forbidden love from the past, and a love that was there the whole time.

Even though the book was narrated by a child, I never had an eye rolling moment. Ada was very mature and it was a pleasure to see the world through her eyes. I soaked up all the information trying to piece together David’s mysterious past. It felt like I was a part of the investigation. This book is not predictable. Nothing happened the way I thought it would.  I encourage you all to pick this book up. You will not be disappointed. Of course, I gave this book 5 stars out of 5 on Goodreads.

“The Age of Miracles” Review

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I found out about this book from Jen Campbell on Youtube. In the video, she and Sanne were giving apocalyptic fiction recommendations. I trust Jen’s recommendations because she recommended “The Beauty” and I ended up loving it as well. Apocalyptic fiction is becoming one of my favorites. “The Age of Miracles” is labeled as an adult book even though the main character is only 11 years old. This book follows Julia through her experience with school, family, and ‘the slowing’ plaguing the earth. The earth’s rotation slows down and we get to see how it affects the earth and those occupying it. All kinds of ripple effects occur with the animals, people getting sick due to the earth’s faulty gravitational pull, and crops because of the lack of sunlight. The people start to panic and react to the long nights and long days.

I flew through this book. I’m a slow reader and it only took me 3 days to read this novel. That is fast for me. The pacing was perfect. It was interesting to see how people changed as the minutes were added to each day. New relationships were created, old relationships died away, and strange behavior ensued. I enjoyed the different characters, even the ones that annoyed me. The author’s obsession with eucalyptus trees was kind of strange. The trees were referenced like on every other page. That became kind of redundant, but other than that this book is a solid 4 stars out of 5.

“The Humans” by Matt Haig

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The narrator of this story is not human. The story is about an alien who is given the assignment to get rid of mathematical information discovered by a human, Professor Andrew Martin. On his quest to dispose of the threatening information he makes a detour into the life of a human being. He has sort of an out of body experience while living the life of a human. You are taken on the journey where he eventually finds beauty, love, and confusion in human life on earth.

The writing is heartfelt and so relatable even though they are the words of an alien. You find yourself laughing out loud, sighing, and having ah-ha moments. It was fun to experience life through an outside source. It caused me to question why we think the way that we do. There are many quotable moments in this book that gave me pause. Quotes, like:

“To be healthy meant to be covered. Clothed. Literally and metaphorically.”

“Some humans not only liked violence but craved it, I realized. Not because they wanted pain, but because they already had pain and wanted to be distracted from that kind of pain with a lesser kind.”

“Love was a way to live forever in a single moment, and it was also a way to see yourself as you had never actually seen yourself, and made you realize –having done so–that this view was a more meaningful one than any of your previous self perceptions and self deceptions.”

By relating to this alien I felt less weird for feeling like I’m not doing well at being a human. Matt Haig captured the feelings of loneliness and wanting to belong very well. I found his philosophies interesting while disagreeing with others. All and all I couldn’t put this book down.

I copped this book from the library. I plan on buying my own copy because there are so many quotes I want to keep and I may even read this one again. If you are interested in love stories, you will love this book. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. I can’t stop thinking about it.