"The Last Black Unicorn" by Tiffany Haddish is the rising comedienne's memoir that she tells in her playful tone on audiobook, but the simplicity in t"The Last Black Unicorn" by Tiffany Haddish is the rising comedienne's memoir that she tells in her playful tone on audiobook, but the simplicity in the writing and the lack of a sequence slightly diminish the lessons she wants the reader to take away from her story.
Growing up in South LA, Tiffany is the oldest of several siblings (they're not really present in this memoir) and bounces between her grandmother's home and foster homes after her mother suffers a traumatic brain injury that leads to mental illness. She doesn't know where her father is most of her life until an ex-cop helps her find him. She eventually marries that ex-cop, who in her words becomes abusive and controlling with trying to take her away from her budding comedy career. She realizes that she felt safer dating an ex-cop because she never trusted her stepfather. When she was a teenager, Tiffany alleges her stepfather implied he was responsible for her mother's brain injury that derailed Tiffany's life and the lives of her siblings. Once she breaks ties with her ex-husband to stop the history of bad relationships, her career flourishes with her starring role in "Girls Trip" that carries her to stardom.
The chapters feel disorganized. The summary above seems more of a fleshed-out sequence than her book. There are rough periods in her life that readers can learn from, but they're told in her comedic voice without the strong vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure. The words didn't hold as much strength as they could have. But it was interesting to see her comedic journey from being the class clown in school to copy other students' work because she was illiterate until age 15 to becoming a nationally known bar mitzvah hype woman to performing in SoCal casinos and comedy clubs. She definitely highlights the ups and downs in the competitive world of entertainment and how she had found her calling at a young age (she attended comedy camp in high school where she met Richard Pryor) but strayed from the path due to toxic relationships. Again, these are the lessons that are glowing from the book, but they're in pieces weaved into different chapters.
Overall, it's nice that Tiffany voiced her own story on audiobook, but the writing and editing could've been better. It's a memoir told in a very conversational tone, and some people like that and some like me don't care for it. ...more
"Golden Child" by Claire Adam follows the family of twin boys in Trinidad as money eventually rips the family apart. The story feels slow at times, bu"Golden Child" by Claire Adam follows the family of twin boys in Trinidad as money eventually rips the family apart. The story feels slow at times, but at the end when seeing the story in its entirety, it's well-told exploring the haves and have nots within the family.
The story opens up to Clyde looking for his teen son, Paul. Clyde is trying to gather support from the neighbors to see where his son has gone. Paul has been told he's mentally disabled because he lost oxygen during his birth. His twin brother, Peter, is the opposite, considered very bright and reasonable. Their doctor uncle, Uncle Vishnu, who was present at their birth, is the one who diagnoses these differences between Peter and Paul. As a doctor, Uncle Vishnu, invests in Peter's education. Clyde fights to keep Paul with Peter in school though Paul is slow. Uncle Vishnu is the biological uncle of Joy, Clyde's wife and mother to Peter and Paul. Joy also has a brother named Romesh, who has good jobs, and Philip, a famous judge. But there's jealousy of why Uncle Vishnu financially supports Clyde and his family, the only ones who live in a very modest home, especially with Peter having the potential to leave the island for the pursuit of education and success.
With the story opening to a search for a character, the search feels longer than it should be until the story gets into the history of why Paul went missing. There are point-of-view issues with the beginning mostly belonging to Clyde then hopping to Paul to Peter to the brothers' teacher, Father Kavanaugh. Some sentences may take a second to realize the point-of-view is not pointing to the right character. It's just interesting how the point-of-view changes and why it changes because at times it felt like it didn't need to change or the situation should've been told by another character.
The emphasis on the difference between the twin brothers is reminiscent of Abraham Verghese's "Cutting For Stone," especially with parallels of following a family of Indian descent in Trinidad where Verghese's book is on a family of Indian descent in Ethiopia. The differences between the brothers are so heightened throughout the book, but the reader may pick up that there may be nothing wrong with Paul; he acts the way he does because he's been told his whole life that something's wrong with him. Paul's actions propel the jealousy bubbling within the extended family that Clyde and Joy never put much attention on.
Overall, this story punctuates one of the main issues that tear families apart: money. And also shows how some are concerned with the money while others don't see the concern, which could lead to a troubling sequence of events. It's a good book for readers who enjoy literary fiction taking place in a country and focusing on a culture underrepresented in books. ...more
"The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls" by Anissa Gray is being marketed as "The Mothers" x "An American Marriage" with mothering at the roo"The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls" by Anissa Gray is being marketed as "The Mothers" x "An American Marriage" with mothering at the root of family deterioration as two members are imprisoned for a crime that has angered the community.
Respected restaurateurs Althea and Proctor Cochran are in prison over allegedly misusing donated funds for a flood in their town of St. Joseph, Michigan. As their reputation becomes tarnished, their teen twin daughters, Baby Vi and Kim, have to stay with Althea's youngest sister Lillian. Another sister, Viola, lives in Chicago away from the family drama while a brother, Joe, lives a few towns away with his family as a church pastor. The Butler siblings - Althea the oldest, Viola, Lillian and Joe - lost their mother when they were young with their father becoming a traveling pastor barely home. Their mother's premature death weighs like a cloud over them because of the circumstances they each dealt with living without their mother.
Althea married Proctor and found success at their restaurant. Lillian, who's taking care of her nieces, is also taking care of her late ex-husband's grandmother, Nai Nai, who's Chinese and they still have interracial tension. Viola is breaking up with her wife Eva while dealing with the resurgence of the eating disorder she developed in adolescence. Joe, who's had a strained relationship with his sisters, wants the nieces to stay with him and his family because he feels with religion he has the most stable household. Their father died years earlier, but his neglect still weighs on them. As they all battle their own demons, Kim is falling down a path of trouble until her implosion forces the family to unite to save her and Baby Vi.
Most of the book measures at three stars. The scenery doesn't change much; the reader is either in Lillian's home, which is the family home inhabited by their demons despite all the refurbishments, and the prison, mostly where Althea is. Incidents such as how Althea met Proctor when they were kids at her mother's funeral are replayed often along with particular verses from her mother's Bible. Kim is the twin who keeps finding trouble while Baby Vi's character doesn't seem that developed as she's characterized as the twin who doesn't stir any trouble. Proctor also fades in a way as the reader mostly gets the sense of his character from the letters he's writing to Althea. The story really revolves around the Butler siblings while there's still a focus on the twins, and since they are the children of the imprisoned parents, it would've been nice to see perspective chapters from them, too. All the chapters are first-person narratives from the sisters: Althea, Viola, and Lillian, while the other set of sisters, Kim and Baby Vi, need chapters. Even Joe needs a chapter to explain his feelings about his sisters compared to just his sisters' feelings toward him.
Overall, it's a complicated family story where ghosts from yesterday resurface amid the temporary loss of two members. The title and cover make the book stand out, but the title seems overdramatic for the story. Ravenous and hungry are synonyms and care and feeding are close in meaning in this context, so the title also gets too wordy....more
"Speak No Evil" by Uzodinma Iweala focuses on a Nigerian-American teenager who feels like he can't truly be himself and, as he confides in his white f"Speak No Evil" by Uzodinma Iweala focuses on a Nigerian-American teenager who feels like he can't truly be himself and, as he confides in his white female friend, he lets his guard down, which leads to the consequences he always feared.
Niru is a Harvard-bound track runner at a private high school in Washington, D.C. area. He's also from a religious Christian Nigerian family where he's expected to be a doctor like his older brother, OJ. But Niru harbors a secret: he thinks he's gay. He realizes he never likes when the white boys at school reference girls in sexual terms. One snowy night, he tells his best friend, Meredith, that he's gay after they try to make out. Meredith says she'll keep his secret, but she downloads gay dating apps on Niru's phone and sets up his profiles to receive messages from men. Later that week, Niru loses his phone, but it turns up in his father's hands. His father notices the app notifications and alerts Niru's mother about his behavior. Though Niru never sent any messages, he's still sent to his local pastor and to one in Nigeria to help him cleanse his mind of what his father says is sinful behavior. As Niru adjusts to being home and going to school again, he tries to mend his relationship with Meredith while still fighting his sexual urges. He finally can't take it anymore and wants to live the way he wants to, but it comes at a price.
The story really focuses on how Niru is not comfortable being himself because he's a black male in America. He's hyperaware of how he should act around his peers because most are from historically rich white families while he has immigrant parents who found fortune in America. He believes he's gay and undergoes pastor counseling on two continents that can be seen as gay conversion therapy. This emotionally tears him apart because he's struggling with feelings that are natural to him. He has a fear throughout the book that if he admits he's gay, there will be consequences. And though there are consequences, they're not the ones the reader expects. The unexpected ending is surprising yet maybe it should've been expected with how the story progresses. It's a smoothly developed story, but one of the things that may make it seem slow is the way the author doesn't separate quotes. He weaves them into the stream of consciousness where you're reading blocks of words that seem never-ending, like works by Alice Walker, for example. Other than how the words are displayed, the story handles so many themes that so many young black men are dealing with.