Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life. 

Wow, what a timely read!!! At this moment I can’t even adequately put into words how I feel about this book. I experienced anger, sadness, understanding, empathy, and so many other things. There’s no way it should have taken me a week to finish this book, but sometimes life gets in the way. 

In the spirit of Stand Your Ground by Victoria Christopher Murray and Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, The Hate U Give gives us a perspective into racism from a point of view we rarely see in the news. This time we hear from the eyewitness of a police shooting. The short premise is that Starr saw one of her childhood friends get murdered by a police officer and we see the media attempt to dehumanize/criminalize the friend so Starr wrestles with the decision of testifying and having her memories of the night turned around. My heart truly went out to her and I can totally see why this book is already being turned into a major motion picture. It is THAT good and it is a story worth telling. 

I could say so much more about this book, but I’ll simply end this with a passage:

“It’s about Oscar. 

Aiyana. 

Trayvon. 

Rekia. 

Michael. 

Eric. 

Tamir. 

John. 

Ezell. 

Sandra. 

Freddie. 

Alton. 

Philando. 

It’s even about that little boy in 1955 who nobody recognized at first – Emmett. 

The messed up part? There are so many more.”


Review: Back to December by Danielle Allen

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Life made me resilient.
Love made me vulnerable.
Marriage made me… Emily Diaz.

When I married the man of my dreams, I assumed it was forever.

So when circumstances called for me to leave the man I loved, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life.

But betrayal changes everything.
And everything happens for a reason.

Being in love with myself enough to walk away brought me back to life.
Being in love with my life again brought me back to reality.
Being in love with someone else, well, that brought me back to December.

 

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Emily…Em…Auntie Em…Whatever name she is going by, the main character in Back to December is a woman that we currently are, we once were, or she reflects one of our girlfriends. I honestly have never felt this personally connected to a character since Ben from Arsen which I read back in 2014. Emily is a broken woman due to an unfortunate string of events but the main reason is being betrayed by her husband.

Emily starts on a journey to see who she really is as a woman without a husband. The agony, pain, and the feeling of being defeated is beautifully and perfectly written by Allen. And, to be completely transparent, I make that statement because I could have easily switched out a few of the details as far as the husband’s profession and his choice of words and Back to December could be a part of my life story. There is something exceptionally special about a book that truly touches your spirit and this book does just that.

“You said you don’t know about marriage, but do you have it in you to love again?”

Emily meets a colorful cast of characters during her journey of finding self. And, the question posed above is one that made me sit and reflect on how I would even answer that. Love in itself is hard, but love after divorce is even harder. We get a row seat into how Emily navigates life as she goes through a divorce and shortly thereafter. Ms. Allen has a tremendous gift in being able to perfectly illustrate with words what it means to allow yourself time to hurt/mourn, bounce back, to allow others in again, and most importantly, how to fall completely in love with yourself after someone tried their best to break you!!!

I don’t do this often, but I highly recommend Back to December. This could totally be because of selfish reasons because I am pretty sure that I am not the only woman in the world that has been through and/or will share an experience similar to Emily’s. This was my first time reading a book by Danielle Allen, but it definitely won’t be my last!

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Buy Back to December here!

Review: Five Golden Rings by K.L. Brady

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Kristie fell out of love with Christmas in D.C. when her father died three years ago. But this Christmas is different now that she’s engaged to Zach. She’s ready to embrace the spirit of the season again, at least until she catches Zach with another woman on her way to the National Tree Lighting. She confronts him and runs out of her nightmare, but arrives at Presidential Park just in time to trip over a dream…

A.J. Dawson is back home in D.C. after a whirlwind global music tour. All he wants is to celebrate a quiet, traditional D.C. Christmas with his socialite almost-fiancée, Sabrina, but she’s got different ideas—A.J. serving at her beck-and-call, hanging on her arm at high-class parties, while ignoring his every wish, except one. Fed up, he’s determined to enjoy the season his way and makes his way to the National Tree Lighting, a moment too late to get in before the gates closed, but just in time to fall for the right girl…

When they are unexpectedly parted with only each other’s first name, can a Missed Connection ad and a little Christmas magic bring them back together?

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The secret to an excellent novella is that even though it is short on pages it still delivers on a full story. Five Golden Rings starts by giving us Kristy and A.J.’s backstory. I instantly felt a connection to both of them and wanted them to “win” at the game of love. And, when A.J. said this I had to stop, think about something personal, and then refocus on the book:

“But I’ve come to learn that stuff isn’t important at all. What you need to ask yourself is, when you come home, do you have someone you can talk to who will understand you, even if they don’t always agree with you? Do you have someone you can trust? Do you have someone who believes that compromise must go both ways, that it’s not always one person making the effort? And when special times like the holidays come around, do you have someone who will go to the tree lighting with you? Even if they don’t want to be at the tree lighting, it’s ok as long as they’re with you?”

Brady is one of the few authors I unconditionally support. Her books are always entertaining and well-written. But, my most favorite aspect of her writing style is that she writes realistic characters. All of the females in her books either remind me of myself, of my girlfriends, or at least some type of situation that could happen to us. Five Golden Rings is a welcomed addition to my K.L. Brady collection and it was a great way to kickstart my excitement for the holiday season!!

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Click here to buy Five Golden Rings on Amazon!