How to Love a Jamaican

The first time I saw Cecilia, she was the only other black girl in our small group during freshman orientation.

I like pleasant surprises.

After a frustrating couple of hours concerning my e-book reader app, I ended up with Libby. To make sure it was the app and not my tablet (six years old), I borrowed something to make sure the novel would show. How to Love a Jamaican was that novel, and it showed.

It’s also a collection of (short) stories, for those that are apprehensive about those (like myself). They all involve a Jamaican, Jamaica and love in some kind of way – self, family, friendships, romantically.

I know that PoC authors and their stories are all too often described as “colourful” or “vibrant” so I’m going to refrain and say that these stories were fun, even when they subject wasn’t. There was a certain kind of life in them, even when you can’t recognise the situation mentioned. Immigration is a part of these stories, but not the story, and – what a surprise – all protagonists go through the same things people in white authored stories go.

All in all, this was a great start with my new reader app and it better continues delivering.

How to Love a Jamaican, Alexia Arthurs, Ballantine Books 2018

Jim Henson: the biography

Jim Henson slowly folded himself into a couch inside Reeves Teletape Studio, sliding down, as he often did, until he was nearly horizontal, his shaggy head against the back cushions and his long legs stretched out in front of him.

This isn’t the last mention of Jim Henson’s hair or length.

One of my reading resolutions was more non-fiction, and biographies are a large part of that genre (in my head). Jim Henson: the biography was recommended to me, put on the To Read List and hey, I like the Muppets, I grew up with Sesame Street, why not.

Because it’s still an one man’s story (I should look for a woman’s (auto)biography next). And for over five hundred pages, that’s a lot. Even with someone who did so much, lived such an adventurous and bizarre life. Combine that with sometimes too woolly prose and a lot of repetition and foreshadowing and suddenly you’re going “yeah sure” about a lot of things.

So don’t read this in one go. Maybe per one or two chapters because there is a lot to learn about the history of (children’s) television, puppets and how much of a game changer Henson and his company was.

Jim Henson: the biography, Brian Jay Jones, Ballantine Books 2013

We Never Asked For Wings

It wasn’t too late to turn back.

I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. A new book? From the Express Collection (meaning you have to read it in one week so everybody gets a chance)? A New York Times bestselling author? This would put me on the book of my read-better-books resolution, wouldn’t it? What a rookie mistake.

We Never Asked For Wings¬†isn’t a horrible, bad, ugly book, it’s simply closer to the Happy Family trope of any Harlequin book than literature with a capital L. Which is fine, but what I had not set out for. With a plot about an absent mother having to returning to her children because her Mexican parents leave, the threat of poverty and deportation ever present elements in their lives, I was ready for some lessons I’d never experience in my privileged world. Sure, there was mention of a “She Will Have To Chose” plot line, but love doesn’t necessarily pulls down the quality of a novel.

The easy shocks and the quick solutions, the dramatic turns that are neatly tied up in the next chapter, the annoying, two-dimensional characters, do. It felt like I was reading a beginner’s steps into telenovela writing. Entertaining but flat.

This just shows you can’t even trust librarians these days. Maybe I should have gone for The Marriage of Opposites after all.

We Never Asked For Wings, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Ballantine Books 2015