Kim is an avid science fiction reader, and enjoys non-fiction books on Minoan archaeology and the Civil War, with occasional opinions about Science books, especially Cosmology and Physics.
This would make for a great middle school or early high school discussion for a book club or class. A Dear Diary young adult novel about a young-for-her-age tween named Julia living between Juárez, México and el Paso, Texas. Her Bis (bisabuela; great-grandmother) is wise and loving even when she's suffering from dementia. Her mamá is obsessed with her papá and deeply codependent. Her papá takes on a new job that she and her brother are vague about, but their tía does not approve of. For awhile, there's money and freedom. But soon, he's gone longer and longer, mamá becomes paranoid and distant, and the freedom of the money becomes a gilded cage becomes a cage. All the while, Julia is trying to navigate her tween years: boys, friends, makeup, school.
Because Julia is relatively naive and sheltered, the author is able to use her to help explain some of what's happening: Mexican politics, relationships, family, a friend's imprisoned father. The downside to this great teaching mechanism is that it leaves Julia a relatively blank slate, and made it difficult for me to develop any emotional investment in her. The book captures a time and a place at a borderland, and what it is for a family to live on both sides of a border, two towns in plain view of each other separated by an enforced but ultimately imaginary line. For that alone, it's an important YA book.
My favourite parts of the book were exchanges between Julia and her papá's best friend, Pedro - several laugh out loud moments - and between Bis, Julia and her hermanito Willy. I also learned how to use "pinche" properly, and recall that cursing in foreign languages was very attractive to me when I was a tween and teenager, so that may be of additional interest to tween and teenage readers.
I was up until 2am finishing this book, trying not to wake up my girlfriend while I was sobbing. I was so invested in these characters! Beautiful, heart-wrenching story of two lovers who missed their chance in Iran coming together at the end of their lives in the United States. The Iranian backdrop of their youth is the hope and failure of democracy, and their sanctuary a docile-seeming stationery shop with a deeper story behind the front counter.
A wonderful celebration of queer people throughout history! I was delightedly surprised by a few of the folx in these pages, especially someone as ubiquitously well-known as Leonardo DaVinci.
Takes place on Queen Anne!
Cognitive function, memory, perception of reality, old ideas of mind-body-spirit made new. Absolutely LOVED this book, and it was extra fun to wander around Queen Anne inside of a speculative science fiction book. Also, there's a cat. Sometimes.
It is a 20-something post-breakup solidarity book that's mostly light-hearted. But it's more! It normalizes therapy for mental illness. Queenie puts up with so much. I got so indignant on her behalf that I got indignant for myself, too.
Anyone who loves flawed, kind-hearted protagonists overcoming long odds will fall in love with Queenie.
Not only does this beautifully-written memoir have the best take I've ever seen on minority tokenization in the name of "diversity," it lays out unequivocally why and how the female-male gender binary hurts all of us. Author Jacob Tobia walks us through their deeply gendered childhood, holding our hand through laughter and tears as they deconstruct gender and remind us we made the social construct up in the first place.
Great read for any hiring manager, any genderqueer person, and any LGBTQIA ally.
If Black Boy by Richard Wright has stuck with you through the years, it’s time for a 21st century update. Mississippi-born Kiese Laymon lays it out: either you already know or you don’t even know. Unlike Wright, who had to write for a white audience, Laymon writes for black Southerners, for black academia, for black families coping with legacies of trauma, and how coping mechanisms change generation to generation. Beautifully written, thought-provoking, and as the title indicates: heavy.
An excellent and eye-opening read on intersectional feminism and why we need it. Anyone looking for a Feminism 101 book will find this a useful primer. Delightfully, it took me awhile as I looked up the work of feminists mentioned and wandered down insightful, painful, beautiful rabbit holes.
WOW! Space travel! Fox magic! Ghosts! And a missing artefact that can’t fall into the wrong hands … could not put this amazing adventure down.
A little robot goes on an adventure, wanting to know what love is. So charming and sweet!
"Dear America, is this what you really want? Do you even know what is happening in your name?"
Most of us don't know.
What are the paths to citizenship for friends and family we recognize as Americans until someone asks for proof of their citizenship? What if there is no path?
This gorgeously written memoir is helping me to ask better questions about American immigration history and the impossible challenges facing our undocumented neighbors in the current system.
What happens when an investigative journalist who believes in prison reform goes undercover as a prison guard at a private prison in Louisiana? Even with self-awareness, he finds himself delighting in petty control and small abuses of power. Kind of a real world Lord of the Flies. Eye-opening!
I LOVE THIS BOOK! Heartful, hopeful book about depression, not fitting in, coping with bullying, puberty, making good tea, soccer/non-American football, Star Trek, and being an American-born child of immigrants.
DINOSAURS! Which, I'll be honest, are usually not my gig.
This book would be a brilliant choice as a read-out-loud for the teachers, parents, and librarians of 4th-to-6th graders. There's a lot of room in this book to explore, whether it's getting lost in the adventure, studying dinosaur species (Ankylosaurs!), talking about the American history of violence against black and brown people (the draft riots in Manhattan), discussing made-up characters (Redd) vs. characters inspired by real life historical figures (Mr. David Ruggles), how a white accomplice behaves when racist violence is afoot (Marietta, but definitely not Henrietta Von Marsh), or diving deeper into some of your favourite real-life history (the Colored Orphan Asylum where - tangent! - Corporal J. Henry Gooding of the 54th Massachusetts lived after his white father bought his freedom and abandoned him there.) You definitely won't be lacking for tangential discussion topics when it comes to this wonderful book.
This book operates on two levels:
- A coming of age story about teenage boys and their self-acceptance or lack of it as they identify their sexuality (boys who like boys!)
- A history of the HIV episdemic and homophobia told from a chorus of the dearly departed.
Have Kleenex handy
An excellent book on the specifics of institutional racism in the broad justice system. This book inspired Ava Duvernay’s documentary 13th on Netflix.