Me, My Hair, and I is an essay collection edited by Elizabeth Benedict. The book features 27 essays from 27 different women about their hair. The book’s thesis appears in the introduction. Benedict states that if you “ask a woman about her hair, and she just might tell you the story of her life” (Benedict xiii). All of the women featured in the collection use their hair to talk about politics, race, identity, feminism, and ethnicity.
One of the most interesting insights from the book is that women’s hair can never be neutral it always makes some sort of statement. A man can have hair that just is, but a woman can never.
I really loved this essay collection. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the intersection of style, beauty and politics.
So I’ve finally read Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You. I’ve seen this book in bookstores and I’ve heard a lot of people say good things about it. I will almost always take a word of mouth recommendation. There is also a movie adaptation coming out this summer.
Anyway this book is very much so a romance novel which is very far outside my normal wheelhouse. The novel is about a 27 year old woman living in a small village in England who needs to find a new job. She takes a job as a caretaker for a young man who is a quadriplegic. Obviously, the two characters fall in love. There are a few more plot twists that I don’t want to mention because it would ruin the book.
I read this book in one day, but it wasn’t a great book. This book was an enjoyable read and the plot was compelling, but there are more interesting romance novels out there. The characters were not complex and the prose was not particularly beautiful. I would recommend this book for a plane or train ride.
Mat Johnson’s novel, Loving Day, tells the story of Warren Duffy; a man returning to America after living years abroad. Warren move back to Philadelphia after a failed marriage to a Welsh woman to claim his inheritance from his father: a rundown mansion. Moving back home forces Warren to confront his issues with race. His father was white and his mother was black. He easily passes for white, but identifies more with black culture. Warren soon learns that he is the father of a seventeen year old girl from a one night stand he had when he was a teenager. His daughter had no idea that she is anything except white and Jewish. The rest of the novel follows these two characters struggling with issues of race and identity. There are also elements of magical realism.
Overall, I really loved this book. It’s a truly a story that I have never read before and I liked that. I’m not well read on issues regarding race and I would like to explore this subject matter more.
“I am a racial optical illusion. I am as visually duplicitous as the illustration of the young beauty that’s also the illustration of the old hag. Whoever sees the beauty will always see the beauty, even if the image of the hag can be pointed out to exist in the same etching. Whoever sees the hag will be equally resolute. The people who see me as white always will, and will think it’s madness that anyone else could come to any other conclusion, holding to this falsehood regardless of learning my true identity. The people who see me as black cannot imagine how a sane, intelligent person could be so blind not to understand this, despite my pale-skinned presence. The only influence I have over this perception, if any, is in the initial encounter. Here is my chance to be categorized as black, with an asterisk. The asterisk is my whole body.” (Johnson 18)
Jandy Nelson’s young adult novel, I’ll Give You the Sun, has received a lot of acclaim and I have heard only wonderful things about it. But I didn’t like it. I liked it enough it finish it, however something about the novel did not click with me.
The novel is about two twins: a boy and a girl. The story alternates between their perspectives. Noah narrates their younger years and Jude narrates their later teenage years. I found the prose to be beautiful and the story was compelling. There was something kind of off about this novel. It’s hard to quantify what exactly I didn’t love about this book.
Here’s an example of the wonderful prose:
“Because I can see people’s souls sometimes when I draw them I know the following: Mom has a massive sunflower for a soul so big there’s hardly any room in there for organs. Jude and me have one soul between us that we have to share: a tree with its leaves on fire. And dad has a plate of maggots for his.” (Nelson)
Rainbow Rowell’s novel, Attachments, is an adorable novel. It takes place in 1999 and focuses on a Nebraska newspaper that recently installed the internet in its office. A young man takes a job at the newspaper as a cyber security officer. However, his job is to read all office emails that are deemed inappropriate. He begins reading emails between two women that are constantly caught in the filter. He never reports them or gives them a warning. He begins to fall in love with one of the women based on the way she writes. The novel alternates between the emails and the narrative of the young man.
I think that this novel would be a wonderful romantic comedy. It’s intelligent, I loved the characters, and it has an adorable love story. This is a perfect Valentine’s Day read.
Marilynne Robinson’s novel, Home, is a quiet and gorgeous story about a father and his two grown children. Home is a companion novel to Gilead. The novel focuses on the Boughton family. The father, a former reverend, is elderly and a widower. The youngest daughter, Glory, moves back to small town Iowa to care for him and to escape a sad life in a big city. As the novel progresses, we meet the black sheep of the family, Jack Boughton, who returns to town after not seeing his family for twenty years.
I am a big Marilynne Robinson fan. I loved Gilead and her earlier novel, Housekeeping. This novel was not as great as the other two, but still so wonderful and I highly recommend it.
One of my favorite passages from the novel:
“He will talk to me a little while, too shy to tell me why he has come, and then he will thank me and leave, walking backward a few steps, thinking, Yes, the barn is still there, yes, the lilacs, even the pot of petunias. This was my father’s house. And I will think, He is young.
He cannot know that my whole life has come down to this moment.
That he has answered his father’s prayers.” (Robinson 325)