Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Hunger: a Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

In Hunger, Purdue English Professor Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist, Difficult Women) applies her usual wit and wisdom to the story of her body and her relationship to it. It is filled with experiences that are astoundingly personal and surprisingly universal. With Hunger, Gay expands things touched on in Bad Feminist, specifically a childhood trauma and the ensuing binge eating that led her to become what she refers to as "a woman of size." She adopts this habit as both a way to comfort herself and to make herself invisible to people who might hurt her.

It should be noted that Hunger is not a self-help book or an inspirational story of a woman losing hundreds of pounds or even an inspirational story of a woman truly accepting her body and herself as it is. It is a memoir of a human being who has struggled and continues to struggle. Throughout the book, she opens herself up to the reader’s scrutiny, honestly approaching her weight, her struggle with self-esteem, and the difficulty she faces in daily life living in a society that judges her for her size. There are devastating parts and inspiring parts and parts that make one want to hide the book from other readers because it feels like Gay has given away too much of herself and parts that are absolutely hilarious. 

This is not a book that one picks up lightly, nor is it a book that once begun is easy to put down. Gay has described this as the most difficult thing she has written, and that will be obvious to anyone willing to give it a read. Hunger is definitely not an easy book, but it is one that will stick with readers long after the last page is finished.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Bang by Barry Lyga

One of my favorite authors of young adult literature has always been Barry Lyga. I have enjoyed every book of his that I have read and his stories have a habit of consuming my life until they are finished so I was ecstatic when Bang arrived on my desk a couple months ago. Yet again, Barry Lyga has provided me with a powerful, well-written and unique story that I recommend to older teens and adults.  

This emotional roller coaster begins with the main character, Sebastian, discussing his younger sister and why there are no traces of her around the house. No photos of his sister can be found around the house, no girl clothes in the laundry baskets, no baby dolls strewn about after being played with because she was killed when she was four months old by a pistol. A pistol that was used by Sebastian.

Bang tells the story of a young man who is struggling with the loss of a sibling and with being responsible for her death. Although he was just a small child himself, Sebastian feels guilty and it encapsulates his entire existence. It was difficult to read the story as Sebastian and see how depressing his life was and the thoughts that ran through his mind while dealing with the aftermath of the tragedy. How would you face your mother every single day knowing that you killed her baby? How could you accept her love and not feel horrible for what you took from her? Does she secretly hate you? These were all questions I had while thinking about his situation.

When Aneesa moves into town, Sebastian finally finds a new friend and she brings a new sense of purpose into his life by helping him make Youtube videos about making different kinds of pizza. Just when things seem to be looking up for Sebastian, the story heads into a different direction and leads to an unexpected ending that left me in tears. This story begins and ends with a bang.

Recommended for fans of Barry Lyga, young adult literature or realistic and contemporary fiction.


A Jew Must Die by Jacques Chessex


This title completely and utterly offended me when I glanced at it. My curiosity of why Monsieur Chessex titled this book, A Jew Must Die, stupefied me. It compelled me to find out what could possibly be on these few pages so here we begin.....

 The author, Jacques Chessex, was only eight at the time, and awakens the dark secrets of Payerne, Switzerland in his novel, A Jew Must Die. 

Agitator, Philippe Lugrin a Nazi sympathizer gathered a band of vagabonds to do the unthinkable; a plot to murder Arthur Bloch, a Jew, a few days before Hitler's Birthday as a tribute to the Nazi Empire.  Of course, Mr. Lugrin didn't want to do the dirty work so he sent Ferdinand Ischi to lead the heinous crime. It was so well-written I felt as if I was standing in the room watching this evil act. Regrettably, this is one of many true stories of what the SS regime and Nazi sympathizers did to innocent people who were not of a "pure race".  This book is an eye-opener to Europe's dark history.

     On his grave stone it reads,  GOTT WEISS WARUM 

(God knows Why).

Dani Green

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham

Mark Billingham usually writes the "DI Tom Thorne" suspense/mysteries, but his last two books have been standalone with Tom just peeking in at the end.  In this book, three British couples meet and hang out together at a Florida resort.  They become somewhat friends, eating, drinking, and sunbathing together. A single woman with her handicapped daughter, Amber Marie, is often at the pool as the girl likes to swim.  On their last day, Amber Marie is reported missing.  Her mother frantically searches for her to no avail.   Detective Jeff Gardner is assigned to the case.  Statements are taken from everyone at the resort, and the three couples are allowed to return home on schedule.  The poor mother stays in a nearby hotel for months until her daughter's body is found in the mangroves by fishermen.
Once Angie and Barry, Marina and Dave, and Sue and Ed return to England, they decide to meet for dinner at each other's homes in an attempt to remain friends.  The first dinner is at Angie and Barry's home.  From the beginning, the disappearance of Amber Marie hangs over them and is a topic of discussion.  Everyone is uncomfortable, and as the dinners continue, it is evident that they all have secrets and that they all lied to the Florida detective.  As they continue to meet, we get to know each of the couples as individuals and the secrets they hide.  When another girl is found dead in England and there are similarities to Amber Marie's killing, a local detective begins to tie the two murders together.  The tension ramps up until it explodes!

Mark Billingham's books are character and plot driven, and these standalones can be read quickly.