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- Book Review| Heavy by Kiese Laymond
“I wanted to write a lie”….these are some of the first few words of the critically acclaimed memoir, Heavy by Kiese Laymond. Laymon continues, “I wanted to write an American Memoir”. These two quotes, though succinct, outline his reality that finding love, for himself and others, as an African American male, was different than the universal American love story in which is inherently believed. What is now being played out in current events via protests around the world against police brutality, Laymond skillfully writes as a personalized perceptive account that can be easily relayed to diverse audiences. Simplistic, effective, emotional, and neutral -this American Memoir is as American as the celebrated Educated by Tara Westover. Exhibiting brave pursuance of the liberty in telling ones own unique story is as American as it gets. ✨Laymond, an English professor at University of Mississippi, accounts his personal journey as an African American male in learning how to responsibly love while navigating barriers in which most are unaware; Named a Best Book of 2018 by the New York Times, it’s written in the form of a letter to his mother, using their relationship as a baseline to which he approaches all others -inherently transferring not only the jubilant emotional currency but also the traumatic. “ I did not want to write to you. I did not want to write honestly about black lies, black thighs, black loves, black laughs, black foods, black addictions, black stretch marks, black dollars, black words, black abuses, black blues, black belly buttons, black wins, black beens, black bends, black consent, black parents, or black children. I did not want to write about us.” ~Kiese Laymond In this work, Laymond’s writing style is basic and untraditional, conversational even. A fitting style for the structural literary theme. The title can be subjective, that is, based on the experience that shape the readers’ lenses. It can reference the eating disorder Laymond possessed, the weight of keeping these stories a secret from his mother for so long, the hypothetical weight of being a “black body” in America, the weight of processes his story as an observer and so on. Herein lies the beauty of this work. The grace is which Laymond is able to relay the needs of his younger self with words untraditionally used to reference a “large male black body” is admirable: soft words, tender words, vulnerable words. This cross draws an emotional response from the reader to more closely experience Laymond’s discourse in feeling these emotions while navigating a world rejecting the notion that he should in fact feel them. Expectations applied both by those inside and external to his community. Astutely, the central storyline revolves around the human body. A reference to his human body, it’s conscious and subconscious experiences as he comes of age: social phycological trauma, physical beatings, sexual experiences -those welcomed and unwelcome, the complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, romantic interests and more. Some of the more heartbreaking passages describe he and his friends trying to make sense of being labeled “gross” from a White teacher. These passages account them trying to decipher why that word and if it was something they had done to cause this choice of language. Happier passages outline the support and uplift of he and his friends for one another as they navigated trials together, as well as the warming hope of his mother and grandmother in him becoming the next great writer of his time. Chapter Synopsis: I. Boy Man a. Train b. Nan c. Wet d. Be II. Black Abundance a. Meager b. Contraction c. Hulk d. Gumption III. Home Worked a. Fantastic b. Disaster c. Already d. Soon IV. Addict Americans a. Greens b. Terrors c. Seat Belts Promises There is so much to intellectually unpack in this novel which may add to the list of reasons it is already used as supplementary text in some collegiate classrooms. Its ambivalence, in a sense, allows each reader to write and evaluate their own coming of age stories in parallel and subsequently relate it to the social climate of today. The New York Times writes, “…this generous, searching book explores all the forces that can stop even the most buoyant hopes from ever leaving the ground.” A drawback to this artwork is that the reader is left wanting more. It is obvious that some parts of the story are intentionally left out. As the reader you can’t help but feel like Laymond wants to tell you something but can’t. Towards the end of the novel, Laymond eludes that his mother may have asked for some parts to be removed from the original transcript before publication. This book is an intimate conversation. One that everyone should have. One that “confront[s] the terrifying possibility that few of us know how to responsibly love”. Happy Reading Friends! Xoxoxoxoxoxox, ROTR Follow ROTR on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Share this review with a fellow book lover!
- Book Review| Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
Hi 👋🏽 bookish friends! Sending a big warm WELCOME to all the newbies following @readingonthernblog. We are so glad that you are here! The rules of probability say that you are likely reading this post in search of a well written, entertaining and educational book. You’ve come to the right place. Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman (@deborah_feldman ) is a memoir detailing how and why the author decided to leave her Orthodox Hasidic Jewish Community to eventually flee to Germany (of all places!). Having previously never exiting Williamsburg, a small town in Brooklyn, New York where ancestors of her community settled, Feldman bravely left behind the only way of life she had ever known. #Netflix, a video streaming service, features a limited series of the same name. Though motion picture is very entertaining, every reader knows the book is always better. For a busy book lover like myself, the @audible #audiobook version was very enjoyable. Fittingly, it is exquisitely read by Rachel Botchan and Cassandra Campbell. Feldman’s writing may be just as exquisite, very formal, yet exquisite non-the-less. Feldman has curated a writing style which maintains the beauty of literary formalities yet still manages to pull the reader into the story, avoiding the scholastic composition essay feel that some writers just can’t manage to shake. In this memoir, initially we are introduced to young Deborah being raised by her deeply religious and devoted grandparents, evaluating if her destiny is already predetermined based on the fate of her biological parents. The first chapter takes the reader through a vivid mirage of how, as a child, she found her “Superpower: acting convincingly, getting others to believe what she truly doesn’t feel”. A superpower which would allow her to maintain solace in her community until she ultimately decides to leave. “If you have no roots, you have no legacy. All our worth is defined by the worth of our ancestors. We make the name for our children. [I wondered] who would want me with no name to pass on?” ~Deborah Feldman Deborah’s mother, originally from a separate Jewish community in Europe, married her father at a young age, moved away from home and attempted to start a family as expected. Later she would learn that her husband is socially inept, maybe mentally ill, which causes her to break under the pressure of cultural norms. With no choice other than to leave Deborah behind, her mother escaped the community, never to look back. At least, until it was Deborah’s turn to marry. Naturally curious, witty, intelligent and with a deep desire to be helpful, Deborah outlines a case which leads the reader to assume it was almost impossible for her to meet the expectations of her community. For example, as a child Deborah loved to read all books, which in her community was forbidden for women, especially those of the Holy book (“Talmud”). Several chapters refer to her hiding books or hiding the knowledge she had gained from reading books to assimilate. Reading books was even a negotiation in which she needed to make with her husband during their marriage. A secret he would agree to keep from their respective families as well. Reading the Talmud is where Feldman associates the loss of her innocence: a point where she stopped believing in authority. This was also compounded by her reading other forbidden readings detailing fellow community members being in the “outside world”. Though located in the heart of New York City, following the rules of her community meant no outside influence from the “Goys”, a term reserved for anyone not of the Hasidic Jewish community and even extended to her mother once exiled. Feldman gracefully guides the reader through phases of her childhood, education, romantic engagements, marriage, motherhood and eventually exit of the community. Also, we get to see the smaller linear steps which lead her to become a talented writer. Her thirst for knowledge, sparked a love for reading which set a fire for writing. A Goy English teacher, contracted to teach at a private school in her community, challenged her to learn writing as an art. Eventually this led Deborah to becoming a teacher in Williamsburg and pursuing a formal education outside of her community (also forbidden). After starting a blog about her Orthodox Jewish experiences, Deborah extraordinarily landed her first book deal. Seeing this opportunity as her way out, she wrote a raw, gripping tale about experiences that very few shared. “Later in my adulthood, I’ll [look back] and understand that I wasn’t equipped as a child to make room for arguments that would undermine every single choice made for me. That would shatter the foundations of my very existence. I would see that I had to believe everything I was taught if only to survive. For a long time, I wouldn’t be ready to accept that my world view could be wrong.” ~Deborah Feldman One of the most interesting storylines in the book is of Deborah and her husband. It is presented as a strange shell of a love story tainted by cultural expectations. An environment where Deborah describes no greater love could exist than that of the rules and goals of the community as a whole. One in which she (and their son) could never be primary. The updated audio version includes an Epilogue and Afterward in which Feldman writes about the aftermath of the book. Saddening events in which the community she once belonged equates her to some of the most horrible human beings in history because of her perceived betrayal in Deborah positioning the Hasidic Jewish Community as extremism. I struggled with writing this review. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style and story, Feldman shares a deeply personal topic. One that includes a community, her community, that descends from a very public painful past. One of experiences that I personally could never know the intimacies of, which makes me apprehensive in sharing an opinion. However, I find stories like Feldman’s to be some of my favorite stories. Ones that in some way may be parallel to many but tends to seldom share the spotlight. Ones that are perceived to never intersect with the rest of the world. Well written personal stories that connect the dots on distant pages, teaching us that all of our stories intersect, none are parallel; it’s just a matter of time. The human experience doesn’t need proximity. We are all connected. The public reasons that make the history of this story sensitive and uncomfortable are the same reasons that must have made it extremely difficult for Feldman to write and share with the world. Whether one knows very little or much about this topic, Unorthodox is a symbolism of courage. Without confirming or denying the conclusions Feldman proposes or the actions that followed, one of the most freeing and difficult actions for those in a mature value structure is to, not only, question the norms but also take the responsibility of deciding whether to propagate those norms. Even if that means the opposite of what everyone in the structure has ever taught. Feldman decided to become the hero of her own story. For those reasons, this is a story for everyone. Chapter Synopsis: Prologue Chapter 1: In Search of My Secret Power Chapter 2: The Age of My Innocence Chapter 3: The Dawning of Knowledge Chapter 4: The Inferiority of My Connections Chapter 5: Possessed of purpose Chapter 6: Not Worth Fighting For Chapter 7: Costly Ambitions Chapter 8: Justice Prevails Chapter 9: Up in Arms Epilogue Afterword Happy Reading Friends, Xoxoxoxoxo, ROTR Follow ROTR on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Share this review with a fellow book lover!
- Book List| For the Collegiate Humanities Non-fiction Lovers (A Trio!) 🤓
Hi Bookish Friends! ROTR caught just the right book sale at Barnes and Nobles a few weeks ago and ended up somewhat randomly picking a non-fiction trio currently leading the collegiate humanities sector 🤓. Full reviews on the blog soon! 💕 ✨Heavy by Kiese Laymond, an English professor at University of Mississippi, accounts his personal journey as an AA male in learning how to responsibly love while navigating barriers in which most are unaware; Named a Best Book of 2018 by the NYT, it’s written in the form of a letter to his mother, using their relationship as a baseline to which he approaches all others -inherently transferring not only the jubilant emotional currency but also the traumatic. The writing style is basic and untraditional, conversational even. ✨Edge by Laura Huang, a Harvard university business professor, is about finding your distinguishing factor using the worlds lens. She hypothesizes that everyone is subject to stereotypes/bias therefore, depending on what that is, hard work might not be enough alone to get ahead. She writes about how to use the opinions of you from others (good or bad) as an advantage in communication, branding and business relations. The writing is fun and relational mixing business & psychology. Huang is one of the youngest Harvard business professors, making the 40 Best Business School Professors Under 40 list by Poets & Quants. ✨Three Women by Lisa Taddeo is a NYT best seller which takes a sociological look at the western norms of romantic love by gender. The writing style is sophisticated and maintains an air of astuteness. It accounts the true stories of three women who end up in undesirable circumstances all in the name of “love”, how society either accepts or rejects these notions and the effects. Based on eight years of immersive research it “explores desire, heartbreak, and infatuation in all its messy, complicated nuance.” ~Washington Post Happy Reading Friends! Xoxoxoxoxoxo, RTOR Follow ROTR on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Share this review with a fellow book lover!
- Welcome | Readontherun
Welcome, we hope here you find inspiration, self-love and a continued desire to positively contribute to the world. Site Guide Wellness Travel Inspiration Literature Empowerment Read Blog " " Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. -Andre Gide Let's stay connected. Join our Book Club & Never Miss an Update! (No spam, promise!) Screen Shot 2019-04-28 at 2.28.22 PM 265BD69A-F25E-4012-90E3-12B3E807334B IMG_1129 Letter_to_My_Daughter_edited_edited IMG_1130 IMG_1114 IMG_0849 Screen Shot 2019-04-28 at 2.28.22 PM 265BD69A-F25E-4012-90E3-12B3E807334B IMG_1129 Letter_to_My_Daughter_edited_edited IMG_1130 IMG_1114 IMG_0849 Visit Us on Instagram
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