Summary: Frederick Joseph does a phenomenal job on telling and speaking the truth in “The Black Friend on Being a Better White Person”. The structure of the book is in a conversational narrative format that breaks down his point of view and experiences throughout various phases of his life. He methodically conducted interviews with numerous individuals that openly share their similar experiences dealing with class, race, and sexism. Joseph holds nothing back in displaying his encounters with blatant, institutional, and subtle racism including implications of countless microaggressions. He fluently speaks from the perspective of a black man on provoking issues that continue to haunt him while "living" black in America in the present day.
Strengths: This book is an easy read intended to educate white people on the black experience in their perception of being “that” friend. The perspective is relatable to the life stories of black people across America.
Weaknesses: This is not the experience of every black person who has established a relationship with a white person. However, there are areas within each life scenario that has brushed the lives of so many.
Thoughts: This book is highly recommended for people of all races. While reading this book I found myself loudly agreeing with the highlights in the format of call and response. There were several chapters that I could relate to directly to from past and present experiences.
Summary: The joys of the teen years do not come easy for Delbert"Del" Rainey Jr. While it is not unusual that at some point everyone has a secret crush, he has been eyeing Kiera since Kindergarten. The problem is several other high school male juniors have identified her beauty and are all on a mission to see who gets to her first. The Purity Pledge has Del questioning his integrity versus the curiosity of his male ego. All the daily thoughts that run through his mind is a blazing portrait of sin and is the opposite of what he should be thinking based on what he was being taught at “First Missionary House” church in his weekly” PP” classes. Del and his mother have been attending church regularly while his father on the other hand is encouraging Del to test the waters of premarital sex. Although, the “PP” classes are designed to keep him focused, he comes up with a plan to try to win Kiera over. During what is supposed to be a fun evening of teen socialization running parallel to a group of parental conversations, several inappropriate gestures, comments, and acts are made. Is this a one time event? Is Del a part of this negativity? Is he able control himself in the presence of the girl who he is mesmerized by? Has he even inquired how Kiera feels about any of this?
Strengths: This book crossed many challenges that teens face but are often swept under the rug until a crisis occurs. Although, several details are missing regarding the insinuations of sexual assault and harassment, the underlying actions are presented. These are strengths because they are real uncensored issues.
Weaknesses: Not necessarily a weakness, but this book can either help or trigger a teens experience. It is so relevant that it serves as a source of information but also a reality for many.
Thoughts: More books like this are becoming in the sense they are educational and relatable for the reader.
Summary: A Phoenix First Must Burn is a fascinating anthology packed with fantasy and science fiction written by black women. Its magical elements illustrate the illusion of a great escape to worlds beyond our very own. There are 16 stories told in a manner that displays dynamic talent with ambience of twisted horizons. Each of them allows you to get lost in the detailed thoughts of the authors writing style through imagination and wonder. Amerie takes you to a world that prompts the thought of no return. Acevedo taps into the power of healing as an inborn gift. Roanhorse speaks to the risk involved in embracing who you are and finding love. Johnson entangles “5” elements of the earth as she describes family dynamics. Daud, Ireland and McKinney leave you thinking of what if the story continued. Clayton sends the reader on a unique path of a healing heart. Caldwell provides symbolism in the world of vampires. Lore brings commonality and suspicion to the forefront. Zoboi opens your eyes to the notion that it is more than just the color of your skin but how complexion is also a factor that can be haunting for self-esteem. Paige is crafty as she expels the importance of living your truth. Woodfolk makes you wonder if love is worth the turmoil. Davis and Strong exposes you to crisis and the impact they have when considering the instances of choice versus survival. Finally, Corrie reminds you that nobody is perfect, but decisions impact the future.
Strengths: These stories are relevant for women across culture but are explicitly told by black women to represent the black experience. The authors have done a phenomenal job at sparking your interest, relatability, and thought-provoking segments within each story.
Weaknesses: As a reader you will wonder what if the story ended differently. However, there is ultimate respect for the portrait every author brings to the table.
Thoughts: This a great book for beginners and those who prefer fantasy and science fiction. The perk of this book is that it allows you to decide which story line or writing style is suitable for you as a young adult or adult reader. All of the authors display individuality that opens so many doors for both fantasy and science fiction.