I must admit, I finally read my first Terry McMillan book a few years ago. I’d recently been wronged by a boy and decided to pick up Waiting to ExhaleI must admit, I finally read my first Terry McMillan book a few years ago. I’d recently been wronged by a boy and decided to pick up Waiting to Exhale, and, man, did that book set me free. I really hadn’t even seen the movie all the way through, not sure what I was waiting for but I assume it had something to do with my not being ready for the literature she puts out. I fell so deeply in love with McMillian while reading Waiting to Exhale that I followed her on all her social media channels and (more recently) jumped at the chance to review hew newest release and eighth novel, Who Asked You?
Who Asked You? revolves around Betty Jean (or BJ), the matriarch of her family and grandmother who inherits and raises her grandchildren from her troubled daughter. Her husband is ill; her sons aren’t involved in her life (with one incarcerated and another too good for the ‘hood); and her life is exhausting. It seems like BJ just can’t get a break, and her two sisters don’t make her life any easier with their consistent negativity and un-welcomed input or their own heartbreaking troubles.
I believe the mark of a good book is that it makes me emote outwardly, and twists me up inside with nerves for the characters. I found my stomach in knots as I learned slowly the future of her daughter (who abandoned her two sons in BJ’s arms). I was uncomfortable at learning about Nurse Kim’s intimate relationship with BJ’s dying husband and worried it would turn into something even scarier with BJ’s grandsons. I squirmed with each interaction between BJ and her sisters. And I yearned for BJ to find some sort of solace in her life, be it new love, or a vacation, or just a moment to catch her breath.
Told from the viewpoint of almost every character in the novel, Who Asked You? says a lot about perspective. Additionally, it’s relatable because no one’s families are perfect, but what makes them strong is overcoming the craziness and chaos of every day life.
Released this September, 2013, Who Asked You? is wonderful winter read to enjoy by the fire....more
I’ve sung her praises before, so it should come as no surprise that I actively hunted down Erica Bauermeister‘s new novel, The Lost Art of Mixing. AsI’ve sung her praises before, so it should come as no surprise that I actively hunted down Erica Bauermeister‘s new novel, The Lost Art of Mixing. As a follow up to The School of Essential Ingredients, I embarked on a beautiful journey of prose by the writer, who I almost prefer to refer to as an artist.
This new book takes us even further into the lives of Al, Isabelle, Lillian, and Chloe. With each window of insight into their lives, Bauermeister teaches you about your own life in a way that reminds me much of the kitchen. She slowly stirs, leisurely whips, and brings each character to a slow boil, a simmer, that makes you implore for more.
This excerpt, told from the voice of Isabelle, is what made my heart leap out of my chest and onto the pages of this gorgeous piece of prose:
More than once, Isabelle had envisioned herself a balloon in Abby’s life, helping to lift her daughter off the ground she clung to so desperately, although Isabelle doubted her daughter saw the value in this. But now Isabelle wondered, as she sat on the jostling chair – what would happen if there were no balloon pulling her daughter upward? Perhaps gravity might seem less attractive if it wasn’t helping you hold something else to the earth. Perhaps you could simply, finally, let go. [page 157]
Please. Pick up this novel, hitting bookshelves January 24, 2013. If what I’ve said isn’t enough to make you buy this book when it comes out, then pick up the work for the reason below: There is no better place to escape from the realities of life than in a book. Especially The Lost Art of Mixing, a story that takes you to a universe filled delicious smells from a love-filled kitchen, and the ups and downs of many entwined lives.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader copy from Putnam, in exchange for a review. The thoughts above are my own, and were in no way influenced by the generosity of this gift (I call it generosity because I love Erica Bauermeister. To review this book was more a treat than a task). ...more
Sometimes, a book comes along that reaches out and grabs at your soul. I Dare To Say: African Women Share Their Stories of Hope and Survival, is one oSometimes, a book comes along that reaches out and grabs at your soul. I Dare To Say: African Women Share Their Stories of Hope and Survival, is one of those books.
Edited by Hilda Twongyeirwe through FEMRITE, The Ugandan Women Writers Association, the book features a series of short memoirs spoken by the woman of Africa. Emotionally, it took more than I expected to get through these unfathomable pieces: each story was more difficult to read than the next.
The content was riveting, but the subject matter was difficult to bear, especially as a woman of African descent. That said, I was also impressed by the honesty and amazed by the resiliency shown by these women.
I felt similarly when reading Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, which I have referenced often when referring to this book. Meant only as a compliment, I hope the author takes it as such. What I find to be profound about I Dare to Say, (similarly with the Vagina Monologues) is that behind the despair is hope and faith — important for all of us to hold on to at all moments.