I received a copy of this memoir in exchange for my honest review.
This is a stunner of a first novel/memoir, the author definitely has found her calli...moreI received a copy of this memoir in exchange for my honest review.
This is a stunner of a first novel/memoir, the author definitely has found her calling. Written from a feminist perspective, Ms. Hernandez chronicles what its like to grow up in a Hispanic household while being encouraged to assimilate into white culture, which in America means success.
A survivor of physical abuse, the author finds herself confused over what she feels in her blood and what everyone tells her she should be. She is intelligent and gets a full scholarship to college. Being proficient in English actually makes her deficient in Spanish, the language of her heritage. She discovers that the language she spoke as a child wasn't "real" Spanish, but a mixture of slang. She reclaims this part of her culture by learning to speak Spanish as an adult. She explores the religions of her family, and searches for guidance.
The author describes the pressures of being expected to succeed, in part due to her family's sacrifices to give her the best opportunities in white America. Complicating matters, she discovers she's bisexual, and dates all over the spectrum, which causes family friction to say the least.
Once she's "in" white culture (writing in the New York Times) suddenly she gets a window into how non-whites view minorities, and in the process feels invisible, as they don't seem to notice their overt racism. She chases symbols of white success - designer bags, shoes etc., wracking up massive amounts of debt and self loathing in the process.
A beautiful coming of age story, looking inside dual cultures, describing what its like to have a foot in two worlds, and struggling to find her niche. I only wish it was longer. Sequel please!(less)
I was fortunate to receive a copy of this book through Good Reads in exchange for my honest review.
Ms. McCall's memoir unflinchingly looks back at her...moreI was fortunate to receive a copy of this book through Good Reads in exchange for my honest review.
Ms. McCall's memoir unflinchingly looks back at her horrific childhood which was filled with sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. The descriptions of the rape by her father (alcoholic, bipolar, with no empathy is his official diagnosis) are absolutely heartbreaking and nauseating, I read much of this book through tears.
What makes this book completely remarkable is that it isn't just a rehashing of family tragedies - instead there is beautifully written, reflective prose that truly illuminates what it is like to live in a household filled with these horrors. The confusion, the fear, how it affects her siblings and her mother.
Integral to the author's healing are the relationships with her husband (her childhood sweetheart) and her wonderful therapist, who help her navigate the minefield after her repressed abuse memories resurface. She bravely discusses how her adult sex life is crippled as the abuse comes to light, and how she battles her own body to come back to herself.
The book also touches on grief/dying, AIDS, dementia, issues of faith, cancer... this woman has survived it all, and learned to thrive through her own volition and strength.
The journey to healing is a beautiful and rewarding experience for the reader, and this book provides hope to anyone that is a survivor of abuse and desperately wants to reclaim their own power. I think Mental Health professionals should read this book as well, as it provides excellent insight into dysfunctional family dynamics also. (less)
Beautiful story and photographs about learning to see the blessings in the unexpected. The author has gotten a lot of hate from readers because she li...moreBeautiful story and photographs about learning to see the blessings in the unexpected. The author has gotten a lot of hate from readers because she lives an upper middle class lifestyle and its reflected in here. I think sharing her feelings was a brave thing, as she is open enough to talk about how she was initially devastated and disappointed at her daughter's Down Syndrome diagnosis. I am sure a lot of moms out there can relate.
Ultimately, Nella, her daughter, is a blessing, as all children are. This book chronicles the author's journey getting to see that.(less)
I have read a whole lot of feminist literature, fiction and nonfiction. This book blew my mind open, despite that.
First I experienced some push back...moreI have read a whole lot of feminist literature, fiction and nonfiction. This book blew my mind open, despite that.
First I experienced some push back - I started to wonder why it seemed every paragraph (a gross exaggeration) was about her being a lesbian. I was like, I get it, you're queer, I don't care if you are or not, that is only a part of who you are.
As I read further, I began to see how important being a lesbian is to her total worldview, and even though I am a woman (a straight but not narrow woman, if you will) she still has a very different view on how gender matters in our worlds, despite that we both survived sexual assault (hers far worse than my experience) and extreme pain from dysfunctional family and love relationships.
I can't pinpoint exactly the moment when it dawned on me, but for the first time, I realized what a big deal it is, how being gay isn't just a facet of your personality, it absolutely can shadow every single other thing in your identity. Because I never was discriminated against because of my sexuality I was approaching this viewpoint from a place of privilege. For this I will forever be grateful and forever appreciate this book. (less)
I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review on Goodreads.
The good: The prose is gorgeous, and the book starts out with a bang, the...moreI received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review on Goodreads.
The good: The prose is gorgeous, and the book starts out with a bang, the author introducing him to his mentally ill stepbrother, "Little" Peter. The portrayal of mental illness is compassionate, unflinchingly real, and written in a way that breaks your heart.
The author doesn't mince words when it comes to analyzing his own problems (as well as those of his dysfunctional family) with drugs and the like. I always appreciate that - its easy to gloss over happy stories or make yourself seem the hero, and von Ziesgar doesn't fall into that trap and stays honest about his own shortcomings.
The bad: While obviously a very talented writer, the story is all over the place, past, present, family history etc and sometimes is very hard to keep your interest. You keep wanting to go back to "Little" Peter in the present and get more glimpses into his life. Maybe that wouldn't have been possible. It took me a while to get through this book.
Overall, the book has a sad or at least resigned tone, which is again very realistic when dealing with those that suffer from mental illnesses and the fact that our resources are woefully inadequate to really help them in a significant manner. (less)
Short in length but heavy in content, this book is one I won't soon forget.
It instantly sucks you in, writing in a style that instantly hooks you emo...moreShort in length but heavy in content, this book is one I won't soon forget.
It instantly sucks you in, writing in a style that instantly hooks you emotionally, telling you about what "We" did. It's a unique style, and it only gets mildly irritating by the end of the book. It is a story of female Japanese immigrants, who come over as arranged brides and face situations vastly different than the American paradise their new and unmet husbands promised.
Some fare ok for the most part, some of the women find themselves in instant hell. Eventually they all end up in internment camps, and the reader is left with a profound disquieted feeling. Some might brush this off as white privilege guilt, but the message is really to remind us that this happened, it could happen again, and hopefully Americans learned from this travesty. (less)
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.
All of us seem to be chasing happiness, and being more mindful seems to hav...moreI was provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.
All of us seem to be chasing happiness, and being more mindful seems to have a lot to do with it. That being said, I had good expectations for this book and looked forward to reading it.
The first issue I had with this book is the author is just not very likable. I do give huge congrats to anyone brave enough to put their life out there for readers, so for that she gets huge kudos. I don't know her personally, so I don't want to attack her, but so much of this book had me rolling my eyes just because it is written from such a upper class white privileged point of view. However, that's the author's life, so I can't exactly expect her to write about being happy in the ghetto...which is why I feel conflicted feeling so much angst towards her. That's great that going back to the Ivy League college where she met her husband and taking photos brings her happiness, and how her gorgeous house in NYC is perfect etc. It's not a jealousy thing, I just sort of don't care.
She complains constantly about having no time to do things that she wants, and how she gave up her high powered law career to write etc etc and I wondered if part of the reason she was so unhappy is because she never really had to struggle? She couldn't see her blessings without honestly stopping to look at her life. Which should make me again give her kudos... I can't pinpoint why I disliked this book so much. Even her children sound pretentiously spoiled (and I don't blame them... they know no other way to be).
The part of the book that IS worth reading 100% is the Appendices, short, to the point tips about happiness that could be applicable to anyone, and I wonder if that's what the focus of this book should have been - or maybe that was her first Happiness book, which I never read, but people seem to love...
This book didn't do it for me at all. I had to push to get through it. (less)
I love Geneen Roth, I love cats, I should love this book. And I liked it... her books are always raw, her emotions laid out on a platter for consumpti...moreI love Geneen Roth, I love cats, I should love this book. And I liked it... her books are always raw, her emotions laid out on a platter for consumption, in a brave and gorgeous way. (less)
Wow... this is like my life circa 1993-1995 all put together in one place. All the zines from the Riot Grrrl era are carefully reproduced in color in...moreWow... this is like my life circa 1993-1995 all put together in one place. All the zines from the Riot Grrrl era are carefully reproduced in color in this volume that will always have a permanent space on my bookshelf.
It was hard being a young female in the 90s, as I think its hard to be a young female at any time. Paired with a strong interest in music and the frustration of the typical "boys club" mentality in the scene and it only increased the feelings on alienation. We didn't want to f*ck the band, we wanted to BE the band. Riot Grrrl didn't care if you were any good at it, just that you did it, you created, you had an outlet for all of the angst. Bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy... zines like "Girl Germs"... it is all represented in here.
Some of the criticisms of Riot Grrrl were that it was a white girl's movement, and I get that. This still doesn't underscore the importance of it, and the fact that it deserves to be documented. It was a true movement, girls nationwide (worldwide, even) connected up with each other to share ideas and form solidarity. It wouldn't be too dramatic to say Riot Grrrl may have saved my life.
This isn't a read you sit down and plow through, as its simply too exhaustive. And handwritten zines take time to read in all their scratched-out, taped-up, messy glory. A masterpiece. I am so thankful for this book. Someday I will share it with my daughter.(less)
I love Marilyn, and I love Gloria. A look at the psychology of Marilyn, how/why she became a sex symbol, and what that icon status did to the woman un...moreI love Marilyn, and I love Gloria. A look at the psychology of Marilyn, how/why she became a sex symbol, and what that icon status did to the woman underneath it all. Brilliantly crafted biography that is highly engaging. (less)
I love books that you can pick up and put down, read in little bursts. This is perfect for when you need a boost of quick inspiration to get you throu...moreI love books that you can pick up and put down, read in little bursts. This is perfect for when you need a boost of quick inspiration to get you through a rough day. A great collection of vignettes from women who have been through hell and back, lived to tell the tale and make lemonade out of lemons.(less)
A therapist recommended this book. The basic premise is we choose partners that are similar to or wound us like our parents did. I didn't get much out...moreA therapist recommended this book. The basic premise is we choose partners that are similar to or wound us like our parents did. I didn't get much out of this book but the theory is interesting. There are exercises in the back of the book. I wasn't inspired enough to try any of them so I can't report on their helpfulness.(less)
A great primer on how to see life's challenges as growth opportunities and not roadblocks. Focus on relationships and grief. Good for anyone strugglin...moreA great primer on how to see life's challenges as growth opportunities and not roadblocks. Focus on relationships and grief. Good for anyone struggling with loss of partner, family, job, etc. Heavy on the spirituality.(less)