I set a reading goal of 35 books this year. Last year I was overly ambitious and tried to get in 100 books. Epic fail.
So, this year I lightened my load and even though I didn’t hit my 35 book mark, I was only 6 books shy. It really wasn’t very hard to pick my favorites. They were all NetGalley ARCs and I was TRULY privileged to read them. I have to say the author that really hit it out of the park for me and is the MVP is Sejal Badani. My first read by her was Trail of Broken Wings, which I read in December 2019. I cried reading that and then Badani got me again with The Storyteller’s Secret in 2020. Just a wonderful story with well written and complex characters.
Ok, enough fan girling. Here are the reads(in no specific order) that reminded me why I read, made me laugh, cry, and think. I hope that despite the chaos in the world, your 2020 reading year was a success.
1)THE STORYTELLER’S SECRET BY SEJAL BADANI-Sejal Badani has left my heart in pieces and put them together again. She’s excellent at having her some of her characters display a refreshing honesty amid familial secrets. Jaya, a journalist loses her third pregnancy and discovers her husband has taken up with her friend. Feeling like she is losing herself due to her losses, she attempts to lean on her mother,only to receive a somewhat cold shoulder. After discovering that her maternal grandfather, Deepak,is dying, Jaya travels to India. Upon her arrival she finds out that her grandfather has died and she meets her grandmother’s housekeeper, Ravi. Ravi tells the story of Amisha, Jaya’s grandmother, to help her understand the true strength she comes from and why her mother is so cold to her. Ravi tells the tale over weeks and divulges a few secrets along the way. Amisha’s story helps Jaya heal and understand her mother more while simultaneously helping Ravi unburden himself of decades of secrecy and guilt. It’s a beautiful tale told through Jaya and Ravi. It shows exactly how what happens in the past affects future generations and how forgiveness is never too late.
2) wow,no thank you by SAMANTHA IRBY-I love all of Irby’s work. This one was no different. I enjoyed reading about how her life routine,and thought processis different now that she is married with stepkids. As a parent, I could totally relate to the pressures of keeping humans alive. There’s even a recipe included that Samantha makes for her stepchildren. The chapter on pitching a tv show was HILARIOUS and I read it three times.
3) A HUNDRED SUNS BY KARIN TANABE- A Hundred Suns captivated me instantly because it was set in 1930s Indochine,a place I hadn’t read about in historical fiction . A rich relative of the Michelin family(yes, the tires) moves his family from Paris, France to Indochine to run the family’s rubber plantation amd make some changes. It’s a whole different society than what the Michelins are used to but they are drawn into the culture and society.There’s talk of alot of the native people being communist and the deaths and jailings of these communists as well as how workers are treated in the plantation.Jessie, the wife of the Michelin heir,(Victor) befriends Marcelle de Fabry,a mysterious carefree woman with a secret vendetta ahainst the Michelin family. Her lover and her plot the demise of Jessie’s sanity in an attempt to make her go back to Paris.
What I loved about this story is how Marcelle despite being vengeful is really just a woman seeking justice for her friend. She faults Jessie’s family. Jessies was certainly underestimated by Marcelle and herself because of her proverty stricken upbringing and family history of mental illness that she hides from Victor. The The native people of Indochine,play an important role in both Jessie and Marcelle’s life despite seeming to be secondary. Both women have different motives that are driven by heartache and by the end you feel empathy for both of them in some way. Issues of class,sex and race are also prominent in the telling of this story and it’s a great ride.
4) MOTHERHOOD SO WHITE: A MEMOIR ON RACE, GENDER, AND PARENTING IN AMERICA BY NEFERTITI AUSTIN-
So I hear about this book via a new-to-me podcast, Woke Mommy Chatter . What peaked my interest was that Nefertiti Austin was an adoptive parent of two Black children, a boy and a girl and had experienced ” Black adoption” in her own upbringing. I am also a product of adoption,though I was legally adopted into my own biological family.
I loved the perspective that Miss Austin had on being single, Black, and adopting. I remember my adoption story very well and my mother loves to discuss our journey a lot. She never explained to me how her race and gender played a role in my adoption but this memoir inspired me to ask her about it.
I enjoyed hearing how the lack of Black representation in parenting books coaxed Miss Austin to start discussing it openly and honestly with others via public speaking and blogging.
I’m more grateful to my mother for altering her life in such a big way to make sure my brothers and I were safe and happy. Miss Austin’s experience is real and relatable to me in a big way and I appreciate her candor in writing that she had doubts the entire time but still followed her dreams.
5)WELL READ BLACK GIRL BY GLORY EDIM-This book connected me to other Black girl bookworms and I loved that. I wish this book would have existed when I was a kid. I wouldn’t have felt so isolated from my peers if I knew there were other Black girls and women who felt about books the way I did. One of my favorite parts of this anthology is the book recs. There are sooo many books by Black authors recommended and I think I am going to turn it into a reading lost for myself next year. I recommend this to ALL the little Black girl bookworms. They need this. Thank you for putting this together, @wellreadblackgirl.
1)New Year,Same Trash by Samantha Irby
2) Mother of Pearl by Angela Savage
3)The Neighbors series: One House Over, Over The Fence, Across The Way by Mary Monroe