Review: An XL Life

“I had loved myself at 500 pounds. I loved myself now, even with my loose skin.” page 203

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An XL Life: Staying Big at Half the Size by Big Boy (Kurt Alexander).
Cash Money Content, 2011.
Autobiography/memoir, 237 pages.
Not leveled.

The autobiography of Los Angeles radio personality Big Boy, once known for his size as much as the music he played.

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This book opened with Alexander talking about the father he never knew and how he didn’t feel that contributed to his weight at all.  It’s a marked contrast to the last biography of a black man I read, Un-Ashamed.

On the other hand, Alexander was greatly impacted by constantly moving around as a child.  His stories about homelessness and frequent moves reminded me more of Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness, although he wasn’t moving from relative to relative.  His mother must have been truly remarkable, because his six siblings stayed with the family through various moves and hardships, even after they were adults.

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Review: …and You Fall Down

“I have come to believe that her life was ruined not by septic shock or noncompliant parents but by cross-cultural misunderstanding.” page 262

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman.
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York, my edition 1998 (first published 1997).
Nonfiction, 341 pages +reader’s guide.
Not leveled.

This is the story of a severely epileptic Hmong girl and the family and doctors who wanted what was best for her but disagreed about what that was.  It’s also the story of the Hmong people in America, and their experiences with the medical establishment.

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This is technically a re-read.  However, I didn’t remember much, so it was like reading a new book.  The primary story in this book is Lia’s life and the friction between her family and the medical staff caring for her, but it has a wide scope.

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Review: Prisoners Without Trial

“The barbed-wire fences, the guards, and the surrounding wasteland were always there to remind the detainees that they were exiled, incarcerated Americans, who didn’t know whether they would ever be allowed to return to their former homes.” page 71

Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II by Roger Daniels.  (Revised Edition)
Hill and Wang, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York, 2004.  (Orig. pub. 1993)
Nonfiction, 162 pages including index, appendices, and further reading.
Not leveled.

An overview of the unlawful imprisonment of Japanese Americans during WWII, including anti-Asian prejudice before the war, and eventual reparations 50 years after the camps.

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Prisoners Without Trial by Roger Daniels.

Every American should read this book.  Daniels distills decades of scholarly research on this and related topics into a succinct and incredibly readable overview.  Nonfiction normally takes me much longer than fiction, but I suspect that I could have read this in one day had other obligations not interfered.

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Review: Stay With Me

“at least they made me feel I was part of his family. Until that afternoon, no one in my family had paid me that kind of visit since I’d got married.” page 7

Stay with Me: a novel by Ayobami Adebayo.
Knopf, Penguin Random House, New York, 2017.
Realistic fiction, 260 pages.
Not leveled.

Stay with Me is the story of a marriage, a love match gone wrong.  It asks how much we’re willing to, or will sacrifice for family, for ourselves, for our partner, for a child.

Stay With Me
Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo.

This book is a rollercoaster in all the best ways.  I don’t entirely know how to explain.  The love and marriage of Yejide and Akin are the center of the book, but this isn’t really a romance novel.  Rather, this book reads like an impossible true story.

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Review: Push

“I wanna say I am somebody. I wanna say it on subway, TV, movie, LOUD.” page 31

Push by Sapphire.
Vintage books, Random House, New York, my edition 1997, orig. pub. 1996.
Adult fiction incorporating poetry, 140 pages plus the Life Story Class Book (not paginated).
Lexile: not leveled.
AR Reader: 4.0 (worth 5.0 points)
NOTE: This book is not intended for children, whatever the reading level may be.

16-year-old Precious is pregnant with another one of her father’s babies and has been kicked out of school.  Her mother feels there’s no point and what’s the use, since she can’t read anyway?  But Precious, fierce, determined, angry, and sad, misses school and is going to try again.  Maybe her baby can have a better life than her.

Push by Sapphire

I came across this book in the most roundabout way.  I’d heard of it before and the movie Precious which is based on it.  But it wasn’t on my TBR, just one of those books you hear about and nod, “yes, I’ll read that some day.”  Then I was at the summer clearance at Barnes and Noble, and they had a copy of the 2011 sequel, The Kid in hardcover for a dollar.  That’s been sitting on my shelves for a year now, and I finally picked up a copy of Push.

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Review: Un-Ashamed

“I started spending time in the library, researching books on religion and philosophy.” page 56

Un-Ashamed by Lecrae Moore, with Jonathan Merritt.
B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tennessee, 2016.
Autobiography, 204 pages including notes (211 pages including blank note space).

The autobiography of a “Christian rapper” who successfully transitioned to general rap spaces and overcame many personal challenges.

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Un-Ashamed by Lecrae.

This one is from the library.  I knew it was somewhat religious, but didn’t realize just how Christian it was.  There definitely were points that could apply to everyone, but it also was very heavy on religion.  For example, his conversion experience takes up most of a chapter, while other aspects of his life are given much less detail.  Lecrae sees his life through the filter of Christianity and views everything with God’s purpose in mind.

I’ve reviewed other books that deal with religion: with a religious main character, attempting to educate others about a misunderstood religion, a character discovering their religious identity, and even tackling a non-fiction topic from a religious perspective.  After some debate, I elected to review this book, since I did finish it, and it fits the main objective of my blog (to review books by/about marginalized groups).

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Review: The Kids Got It Right

“Bill Bradley was not afraid to show his goodwill toward black people. His father raised him that way.” page 143

The Kids Got It Right: How the Texas All-Stars Kicked Down Racial Walls by Jim Dent.
Thomas Dunne Books, Saint Martin’s Press, New York, 2013.
Sports nonfiction, 288 pages including index.
Not leveled.
NOTE: For international readers.  As an American, I use the word football for American football, the team sport with helmets and tackling.  For books involving the team sport with cleats and goals with nets, see the tag soccer.

This is a story of small-town Texas football, particularly those involved in the 1965 Big 33 game.  It’s the story of high school stars Jerry LeVias and Bill Bradley, an unstoppable duo who changed football at that game in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

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It’s pretty clear within the first ten pages that this was written by a white man.  The subtitle notwithstanding, this book is not about race.  This book is about football, and specifically one football game in which an All-Star team began to be slightly integrated.

I picked up this book at the dollar store and after reading and reviewing, will be passing it along.  Elsewhere I’ve seen this recommended to fans of the TV show Friday Night Lights and high school football fans.  I am neither.  Sports in general are not my thing, but in particular high school football holds little interest to me unless I personally know the participants.

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