Autobiography · Celebrities · Essays · Julia P · Memoir · Non-Fiction · Pop Culture/Entertainment · Quick Read! · Race

We’re Going to Need More Wine | by Gabrielle Union

We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories

We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
(Dey Street Books, 2017, 272 pages)

I’m a Gabrielle Union fan and while I knew I would read this book I was wary about the quality of the writing. Celebrity memoirs typically go one of two ways, and I was scared to have this be a letdown. Union actually exceeded my expectations. The essays in this book range from humorous to serious. I laughed out loud a few times and I found myself raging alongside her when she talked about having to teach her black stepsons how to protect their lives in this world we live in.

This book reads the way Union would talk if she actually was one of your girlfriends dishing over wine. I definitely recommend it. She talks about everything from claiming your sexuality and partying with Prince to dealing with personal trauma and facing what it’s like toe be black in America. This was an entertaining and well-written book that lands firmly on the side of quality celebrity memoirs. That being said, while she does discuss her marriage to Duane Wade, there’s not a ton of dish there so don’t expect too much on that front 😉

4/5 stars

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Fiction · In the Library · Julia P · Quick Read! · Race · Women

Another Brooklyn | by Jacqueline Woodson

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
(Amistad, 2016, 175 pages)

Woodson is a poet and that comes across in this book. Her way with language is amazing. This is a slim book and Woodson has a way of conveying so much so concisely that you just sit back and appreciate her way with words. This book transports you to Brooklyn in the 70s. We’re introduced to a friendship made up of four girls: August, Gigi, Sylvia, and Angela. We see the power of friendship but we also see that childhood is fleeting and the real world has a way of coming in and changing your life whether you’re ready for it or not.

This is a poignant and powerful novel.

4/5 stars

Award Winner · Fiction · In the Library · Julia P · Quick Read! · Race · SCC Book Club · Young Adult

The Hate U Give | by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
(Balzer + Bray, 2017, 444 pages)

The Hate U Give was this semester’s first selection for our Between the Covers Book Club and the timing of it was… well, we’ll just say that it was a timely read. You might be familiar with the title because it has gotten a lot of praise and publicity. It’s a young adult novel that follows a young woman named Starr whose best friend was the victim of a police shooting. And she was the only witness.

The reader experiences what Starr is going through as she copes with the loss of her friend and tries to deal with the fact that it’s her word against forces so much larger than herself: the officer involved and the media seeking to spin the narrative. This was a book that forces you to reflect back on the many police shootings we’ve seen covered over the years. I found myself writing in the margins when a detail reminded me of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown… it was unsettling but powerful.

This book lends itself to good discussions about hard topics a lot of people tend to shy away from. I’m still reflecting on the book and what an amazing job Thomas did with it. A great read, and don’t let the YA label keep you from picking it up.

4/5 stars

Fiction · Julia P · Name in Title · Race

Ruby | by Cynthia Bond

Ruby

Ruby by Cynthia Bond
(Hogarth, 2015, 368 pages)

I read Ruby for a book club that I’m in and I was glad this title was chosen because it had been on my TBR list for a while. It was incredibly well-written, but man, the content was heavy. The fact that this title was a selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 should clue you in to some of the subject matter. When I think of “Oprah picks” there are themes that tend to come up pretty regularly: issues of race, close female friendships, sexual assault/abuse, redemption (in some form). Ruby hits all those points (and yes, I know Oprah’s book club selections vary in content, but if you think about Oprah and what she consistently praises/highlights in literature, this hits the sweet spot).

In the interest of getting this posted I’m going to give you the Goodreads synopsis:

The epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her—this beautiful and devastating debut heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city–the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village–all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby Bell finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.

This is a book that will simultaneously keep you reading and wanting to put the book down and step away for a moment. A well-written and powerful book.

4/5 stars