“The Underground Railroad” Book Review

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Life almost made the completion of this read impossible. I was supposed to read this book for Diverse-A-Thon, but it didn’t make it. “The New Edition Story” 3-night miniseries happened and I went down memory lane which took me away from my reading.

Colson Whitehead takes the idea of the underground railroad, which are pathways with safe houses to aide slaves helping them to enter free states, and makes it into an actual underground railroad. Each destination of the underground railroad revealed a different world racially. Certain states were more accepting of blacks escaping than others. This story follows a slave, Cora, in her perseverance to gain freedom from slavery. Cora’s determination for freedom is as relentless as the slave catcher’s desire to capture her to return her to bondage. It seemed that every time Cora started to relax, her past reached out to pull her back to slavery. Along her journey to freedom we are introduced to many characters. Abolitionists and sympathizers along the way were also treated as subhuman if they were caught harboring slaves.

I walked away from this book thinking about freedom. What is freedom? Does attaining freedom bring about danger due to its ability to precipitate contentment? Do you still have freedom if there are people willing and able to take it away? Is freedom a state of mind or a tangible destination?  It was amazing to me how preoccupied white people in antebellum south were with keeping track of black people. Slave catchers were willing to travel thousands of miles to bring slaves back to their owners. How far are you willing to go to acquire freedom?

“Whether in the fields or underground or in an attic room, America remained her warden.” The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

The writing was very graphic at times, and it should be given the content. To be honest, I felt that the book could have been longer. Many vloggers and bloggers have spoken of the coldness of the narrator. And, I agree. Overall, I really enjoyed this read. I gave this book 4 stars out of 5.

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“We Are The Ants” Book Review

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Henry is constantly getting abducted by aliens. His mother is a stressed out chain smoker. His grandmother is developing Alzheimer’s. His brother is about to have a baby with his girlfriend. And, his boyfriend committed suicide.Yes. Henry Denton has a sucky life. This review will have spoilers, because I need to get some things off my chest. You have been warned.

I hate this book. Henry whines during the entire book about how it was his fault that his boyfriend killed himself. He clearly suffers from Stockholm syndrome. This guy Marcus, he was dating, berates him, insults him, harasses him, and even physically abuses him along with his friends. And, every single time Henry goes back to Marcus to comfort HIM. I was disgusted by this book. Henry had the audacity to call a close friend psycho who he thought was defending him while at the same time making excuses for Marcus using him as a punching bag. And, to top it all off, his abusive brother beats him up too. I didn’t know someone could get beat up that many times.

There are only like 2 chapters in the whole book about him getting abducted by aliens. The aliens abduct him because they have chosen him to determine if the earth is worth saving from annihilation. The rest of the book is just Henry drenched in self-loathing while he abrasively tramples over the lives of others close to him. No matter what is going on in the lives of others, he always manages to turn it back around to his questions about the earth’s worth and his issues with not knowing why his boyfriend killed himself. Basically, he was leaning toward allowing the world to be destroyed because HE didn’t want to live. So, yeah, let’s just kill everyone.

I get what the author was trying to do. The author was trying to show how destroyed Henry was that his boyfriend killed himself, but it didn’t translate well. This book gets high ratings on Goodreads and I don’t understand why. For me, it’s hard to rate a book with a high rating when I hate the main character along with the story entirely. All this book left me wondering was why the so-called aliens abducted such a pathetic human being to decide the worlds fate.  In the end, Henry being abducted by aliens wasn’t even real. The premise of the aliens abducting him was the main reason I picked up this book. Clearly, I gave this book 2 stars out of 5. I didn’t give it a 1 star rating because it obviously succeeded in extracting emotions out of me.

Reading Diverse Books

I don’t read enough diverse books. Let me tell you why.

When I was younger I had more mental space to delve into books about oppression, discrimination, and inequality. Being a mother of 3 with a full-time job, I’m overtaken by worry due to our recent developments in government.  Everyone seems to be talking at the same time about their needs and fears. The more I learn about this world, the more I reach for light reads. Once I get home from work, my ears are ringing and my eyes are tired from overexposure. Living in New York does not help. There are times when I can’t even hear myself think. Escapism is usually my main motivation for reading, along with my love for storytelling.

Until yesterday. I learned that Christina Marie, along with a few other bloggers and YouTubers, is hosting a Diverse-A-Thon. This reading marathon challenges you to read as many diverse books by POC and other marginalized groups you can for 7 days (Jan.22nd-Jan29th). During those 7 days, there will be a read-along for “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead. I’m so glad that I own this book. There will be discussions on twitter and we are urged to use the hashtag #diverseathon.

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A yearlong challenge for Reading Diverse in 2017 has also been launched. Not only are we encouraged to read diverse, we are also challenged to read books by POC or other marginalized groups with stories about those same groups. For example, Toni Morrison is an African American writer who writes about African American people. If you participate you will have a chance to win prizes for posting diverse book reviews and various book posts. It sounds like fun.

On my 2016 Wrap Up/2017 Reading Resolutions post, I mentioned that I want to dedicate a month to reading Toni Morrison books. And, currently, I’m reading “We Are The Ants” by Shaun David Hutchinson. This book is about a gay teenager who is abducted by aliens. I also believe the writer is from the LBGTQIA community. I am reading diverse and didn’t even notice. I have some problems with this book. I will explain in a book review coming soon. Listed below are some more diverse books I plan to read this year.

Last year, I read “Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon. I thought it was such a cute feel good book. I decided to give her next novel a try “The Sun is Also a Star”. This book deals with love, deportation, and science vs. fate.

“Behold the Dreamers” by Imbolo Mbue is about a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem. Sounds good to me already.

I’ve heard so many great things about “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi. Let’s also take in that beautiful UK cover. Yes, I ordered it from bookdepository.com. I had to wait a few weeks for it. Ta-Nehisi Coates says, “Homegoing is an inspiration”. There we have it. I can’t wait to dive in.

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Speaking of Ta-Nehisi Coates, I want to read his memoir “The Beautiful Struggle”. “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi broke my heart, but it was much needed medicine. His honesty and eloquence was so refreshing. Can’t wait to see what and who had a hand in making him the man he is today. Great writer.

This will be my first time reading Zadie Smith. Seems you either love her writing or you hate it according to booktube. I want to find out which side I’m on.

The premise of “A Brief History of Seven Killings” has such an interesting premise. He seems to have an unique take on Bob Marley’s attack in 1976. This book won the Man Booker Prize. It’s long and I’m up to the challenge.

I haven’t been reading enough memoirs so I plan on reading “Men We Reaped” by Jesmyn Ward.

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These library books are due back to the library January 30th. I better get to moving fast. I will probably end up checking them out again so I can have more time. I heard about both of these books on booktube and I’m intrigued.

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And, last but not least, I plan to read “Song of Solomon” and “Sula” by Toni Morrison. I’ve already read “The Bluest Eye” and “God Help the Child” and I love her beautiful prose. Her style is pure poetry. Can’t wait.