Tag Archives: BIPOC representation

Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Review

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
My rating: 4 of 5 star

This was the Life’s Library community book choice at the end of 2020. It is classic from the 1930s by Zora Neale Hurston. It is thought to be feminist literature because the main character is presented as a strong female character.

The story follows a woman named Janie. Raised by her grandmother who was a former slave, Janie was the product of a probable rape, which leads her mother to want very little to do with her. Janie grows up and marries the man who her grandmother sets her up to marry, but the marriage doesn’t last long. She gets married another two times in her life, and this book follows her life throughout those marriages.

People around her like to put her in boxes that she doesn’t quite fit into. While at first, she tries hard to meet the expectations of others, she eventually learns to trust herself and find contentment in the choices she makes, no longer caring about what other people may think. It is empowering, but also heartbreaking, as near the end of the book, she has to make very hard decisions that bring sad consequences. But her resilience through everything is beautiful.

This book wasn’t what I expected. Most of the classics I know are flowery in their descriptions, but Hurston really focuses on dialect, conversation, and moves the plot forward this way. This would definitely be a good audiobook to listen to (I actually listened to parts of this book instead of reading it completely). The story is meant to be read out loud. Very entertaining and definitely recommend.

There is a profanity in the book. Sexual content includes mentions of rape and kissing. Violence includes mentions of rape, whippings, there is a gun involved in a skirmish that ends up pointing in Janie’s face, and there are deaths and descriptions of dead bodies being buried after a hurricane.

The Fifth Season: A Review

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 4 of 5 star

Last year, in 2020, N.K. Jemisin showed up on my radar with her book “The City We Became” which was a big hit among some of the readers I follow online. But before I read that book, I wanted to read something off of her backlist first. So, this is why I picked up The Fifth Season trilogy.

I’ve only read the first book, but so far I am hooked. To be honest, I wasn’t quite hooked until after 100 pages. There is a bit of a learning curve with this book. It is a science fiction that is based in geology and seismology. The world keeps have these cataclysmic events that set everyone back to a more primitive time. If they prepare for it well enough, then they or their children might survive the dark years when the dust from volcanos cover the entire earth.

Not only does it have a vocabulary learning curve, but it’s a book that throws its reader into the middle of the story. There are different types of people in this world. Stills, who are just normal, every day people. Orogenes (or the derogatory name Rogga) who can create, quell, or monitor the earth’s movements and volcanos by using the energy and heat around them. This makes them dangerous to stills because that energy and heat could come from them, leaving them dead. Finally, we have the Guardians, a strange group of people who care for, train, and monitor the Orogenes.

The story follows three women (whose connection is revealed toward the end of the book). Damaya is a young girl whose powers have gotten the attention of the Fulcrum (a training facility for Orogenes). When a child shows orogene abilities, there is fear in the community. Some parents or community members can kill the child, though they are encouraged to contact the Fulcrum and have the child removed and trained. Damaya’s point of view is one who is new to the Fulcrum and to training.

Syenite is an orogene Fulcrum member who has been attached to a mentor, Alabaster. Not only does Alabaster continue her training, but they are also supposed to breed together. It really exemplifies the animal type treatment that these people receive.

Finally, Essun (her story is written in the second person which was jarring at first since each chapter basically changed POV) is a middle aged woman who is an orogene but hides her abilities. She lives in a small town with her husband and two kids. Her kids are both orogenes, but she hides that fact as well, until one day she comes home to find her son murdered and her husband and daughter disappeared. She knows that her husband killed her son and kidnapped her daughter, possibly not knowing that her daughter was also an orogene, which means she is in danger. Essun sets out on a quest to find her daughter.

It touches on dehumanization in a hierarchal society, something that evolved over time through each of the cataclysmic events (called seasons). In addition to all of the story and character development, there is also the mystery of these huge obelisks in the sky and the stone eaters, something that will probably be revealed and discussed in the following two books.

The book is excellent. There was no real information dump. The reader is just dropped into the middle of everything and must patiently pay attention to the details in order to catch up. But it is well worth it. Looking forward to the next books.

There is a profanity in the book. Sex is used for the purpose of breeding, especially among orogenes, further dehumanizing them. There are some hints to child abuse. Also there are multiple sex scenes, some described in detail, but I wouldn’t say they were steamy. There is also a lot of death. The son of Essun is very young when he is killed. There are stabbings, death by losing the heat in your body, mentions of cannibalism and turning to stone. This book is heartbreaking. I originally thought it was YA, but after reading it, it definitely felt more of an adult genre book.

A Song of Wraith and Ruin: A Review

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 star

If you enjoy mythology, competitions, and star-crossed lovers, this story has all three. Based in African mythology, the Song of Wraiths and Ruin is a beautiful story. It is written in a double POV of the two main characters on either side of the conflict. Malik is a poor Eshran boy. The Eshran people are very oppressed and abused. They aren’t even allowed sometimes to enter certain cities in the kingdom. Karina is the princess of the kingdom, but her mother who is the ruling Queen has been distant with her since Karina’s father and sister died in a fire.

Then both of their lives are turned upside down. Malik’s younger sister makes a wish that comes true, but in return she is stolen away by an ancient magic. In order to get her back, Malik must kill the princess by the end of the comet festival. While in the palace, another terrible tragedy happens, leaving Karina to make some hard choices and reveals truths about herself that change everything.

Other than the descriptive landscape the story unfolds, the strongest and most fascinating aspect of the book is the character development and transformation. Themes like realizing the power within and being stronger than one realizes. But also how grief may make you want to do terrible things but love can be strong enough to stop you from doing them. Really believing in who you are and what you are capable of no matter what odds are stacked against you.

The ending is a definite cliffhanger. The next book is supposed to come out this year, but I understand a lot has been delayed in the book world due to the pandemic. Still, I will be on the lookout for the next one in this series!

There is a profanity in the book. Sexual content is mentioned but not acted out and not graphic. There is kissing in the book. There is death in the book, death by falling, death by sword/stabbing, and there is fighting in the book. The author actually lists trigger warnings at the beginning of the book which was extremely helpful.

Silvie’s Love: A Review

Silvie’s Love created by Eugene Ashe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes you just want to watch a sweet love story. If you are looking for a simple storyline that is slightly predictable but absolutely precious, this is the movie for you.

The story takes place in 1950s Harlem (probably reaching into the 60s by the end of the film). It is a love story between a poor, but up and coming, sax player and a well-to-do girl engaged to a man from a prominent family (his father is a very successful doctor). The two have a summer fling, but as the summer comes to an end, something happens, choices are made, and the two are separated for years.

But fate brings them back together over time. Each time, life pressures will pull them apart, but no matter how hard it gets, they find each other again.

The cast is mostly made up of people of color, and while there are mentions of the civil rights movement, marches, the NAACP, and blatant bigotry, this isn’t the main focus of the story. In fact, neither of the main characters seem to have much involvement in the movement, though they have friends that are. Instead, the focus is on their own successes in their career and the way life bends at times, and how to move through it.

The costumes, the music, the carefree summer days bring a sense of romanticism that goes beyond just the love story. It was uplifting and simply beautiful. Highly recommend this if you have Amazon Prime.

There is some profanity. Kissing and sex scenes, though nothing too graphic. I don’t think there was any nudity. No violence.