Review | Clap When You Land

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If her first two books hadn’t already landed Elizabeth Acevedo on my auto-buy list, this one would have done it. I will say that I prefer her books in verse as I love her specific style, but I will also pick up anything she writes in prose as well. It’s not just her writing, but so many other things such as the impact she crafts with her words, the soul she gives her characters and more. I spent a lot of this book crying and sometimes I didn’t even understand fully what was making me cry, but it was heartbreaking. Being someone who has gone through the death of a father, I always appreciate (but also hurt) when authors are able to capture different aspects of grief and the different things people may experience/how no one’s grief is the same – and Acevedo perfectly captured that in this book. There are definite trigger warnings for death of a parent, sexual assault and grief in this book and I think it’s important to know that if those subjects are triggering for you, be aware.

It’s a hard read emotionally, but so worth it and I love that she drew inspiration from the real life crash of flight AA587 – while also shedding light upon it. Too often important events that impact hundreds, if not thousands, of lives get pushed aside or buried because something deemed bigger or more important happens. This should be on everyone’s lists, but make sure you have tissues handy.

Happy reading!

Review: Eat, and Love Yourself

A story about Mindy, a woman living with an eating disorder who has to learn how to love herself again.

In pursuit of the perfect body, Mindy buys the low-fat diet products and the glossy magazines which promise the secret to losing weight. One night, while perusing the aisles of the neighborhood convenience store for a midnight snack, she finds a new product. A chocolate bar called “Eat and Love Yourself”. On a whim, Mindy buys the curious candy, not knowing that with every piece of chocolate she eats, she will be brought back to a specific moment of her past — helping her to look at herself honestly, learn to love her body the way it is, and accepting love. Perhaps, she will even realize that her long lost high school best friend, Elliot, was more than just a friend…

As soon as I read the synopsis of this one I knew it was something I wanted to pick up, but also that it was going to be very hard hitting. It follows Mindy, who has a very hard time with her self image, as she takes a look back at her past and the things that shaped her.

Major trigger warnings for body dysmorphia, bulimia, low self esteem, depression and slight fat shaming. While these can be hard to read about, especially for someone who relates to the main character, they are very important topics that should be talked about more. The artwork style is bright and pops with color in all the right places. Mindy’s journey is definitely multi-faceted and I love the touch of magical whimsy included in this story.

Happy reading!

Review: Where I Ache by Megan O’Keeffe

where I ache coverThough my history with modern poetry is rocky, I have really been enjoying the hard hitting collections this year, so I was delighted when Megan reached out to me and asked if I would review her poetry collection. She described it as a poetry collection broken up into 6 chapters ranging from themes such as depression, jealousy, grief, and strength and it was certainly that. Each chapter had a different feel and theme to it, but the transition and flow of the collection was really paced well and a natural progression.

We’re making angels out of monsters in the dark. – from “Please Don’t Sugar Coat this for Me”

Trigger warnings for this collection include what she mentioned above as well as insecurities/self esteem issues and there were some references to abuse. At some points it was like reading someone’s diaries as they were going through sometimes joyful, sometimes more traumatic events. I think the underlying theme to all of it was strength and survival through it all.

I definitely had some favorites when it came to this collection including “Lost at Sea,” “Fragile” and “To My Knees” among others.  As each part progresses, you can definitely see the journey of the author.  The illustrations by Kevin Furey also add a great contribution to the work, at some times very poignant.

Sand isn’t stable ground to rely on, but even concrete can crack – from “Ocean Blues and You”

This was a great exploration of poetry and there were some truly beautiful moments in her poems. Did every poem call to something in me? No, but that’s as it should be. I’ve always felt that poetry is something that can speak to the soul, but is different for every person and in saying that I think different people will definitely get different things out of this collection.

Where I Ache comes out on June 10th, be sure to check it out if it sounds like something you would enjoy.  Thank you again to Megan for giving me the opportunity to read it.

Happy reading!

Review: the mermaid’s voice returns in this one by Amanda Lovelace

the mermaid's voiceI’ve read the previous installments in the Women Are Some Kind of Magic series and while I enjoyed them, they weren’t favorites. Lovelace was definitely one of my favored voices in modern poetry and I was willing to give anything she put out a chance. This installment in the trilogy blew me away.

One thing I love about Lovelace’s collections is that she always includes trigger warnings in the beginning. This is so appreciated and valuable when it comes to the type of content being discussed. Her language is beautiful while the emotions and subject matter are very raw and real. The way she phrases and formats her poems lend to the style and the expert use of language.

Perhaps it is my own experiences, but this collection just spoke to me. The progression of the story felt like a real progression of healing and learning. The guest poems from other poets perfectly melded into the collection. While they were different voices being added in, they fit in and belonged there. It was wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time.

I definitely recommend this collection for anyone who enjoys her writing or anyone looking for modern poetry that touches hard hitting and difficult subjects.  The mermaid’s voice returns in this one comes out on March 5th from Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Happy Reading!