Review: The Lucky Few

The Lucky Few: Finding God’s Best in the Most Unlikely Places by Heather Avis.
Zondervan, HarperCollins, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2017.
Adoptive parent memoir, 223 pages.
Not Leveled.

This is the story of one woman who couldn’t become a mother even though all she yearned for was motherhood.  This is the story of her three children, and the journey she and her husband went through to bring them home and accept them as forever family.

The Lucky Few

This was a fairly light and quick read.  (I finished it in a few hours, your mileage may vary.)  I think if I didn’t know so many people in situations very similar to hers, this might have had more impact.  As it was, I felt like she kept the story extremely positive and glossed over a lot of the harsh realities.  However, that makes sense given that the goal of this book is to reach as many people as possible.

In parts it is more obvious than others that Avis was extremely lucky.  She glosses over the birth family of their daughter Truly Star, which makes sense because she is quite young yet and not ready to decide if she wants to disclose that information to the world.  She has close and loving relationships with the birth families of her other two children.  That’s fairly unusual, especially the birth family reaction to her.  Perhaps it’s a different scenario because they have Down Syndrome as opposed to other challenges.

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Review: Redefining Realness

“The boundaries of gender, I was taught, were unmovable, like the glistening white rocks that surrounded Grandma’s crawfish ponds.” page 77

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More by Janet Mock.
Atria, Simon and Schuster, New York, 2014.
Memoir, 263 pages including acknowledgements.
Not leveled.

Redefining Realness resized

I’d seen this book recommended multiple places before I finally bought it.  The tagline says “You will be changed by this book” and I have to say, that is entirely accurate.  Janet Mock is diverse and disadvantaged in so many ways – part Hawaiian, part African-American, transgender, from impoverished circumstances, a former sex worker, abused and traumatized as a child.  Yet out of this mix she has formed something gorgeous.

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Review: As Nature Made Him

“Today, with the twins having rejoined each other on the same side of the gender divide, the stark physical differences between them eerily testify to all that David has been through.” page 57

As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl by John Colapinto.
Harper Perennial, Harper Collins, 2000, my edition 2006.
Nonfiction, 289 pages plus 18 pages of extras.
Not Leveled.

This is the story of an identical twin boy whose botched circumcision altered the course of his life (and many other children) forever.  When his parents desperately sought help, they connected with  researcher John Money, who believed gender was entirely fluid and culturally constructed and who encouraged them to reassign the baby’s sex.  Intact twin Brian was raised in his birth gender, while baby boy Bruce was raised as Brenda.  The results have had a long-term effect on gender theory and treatment of transgender and intersex children in North America.

As Nature Made Him

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Review: Educating All God’s Children

“Most disturbing, Anthony regarded society’s low expectations of him as the reason why his school didn’t have the necessary supplies.” page 12

Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can – and Should – Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids by Nicole Baker Fulgham.
BrazosPress, Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2013.
Persuasive non-fiction, 235 pages including notes.

Fulgham wrote this book for the sixteen million children growing up in poverty in the United States of America and receiving a drastically different education than their upper and middle-class counterparts.  This book is fairly unique to America, because US education is uniquely flawed.

Educating All Gods Children

The first time I read this book was as a young educator ready to change the world.  This time, I read it having parented, including having parented children in highly segregated schools.

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Review: Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

“Yet here she was, three months later, with a full-fledged tumor. Either her doctors had missed it during her last exams – which seemed impossible – or it had grown at a terrifying rate.” page 17

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
Broadway Books, Crown Publishing Group, Penguin Random House, New York, 2010.
My edition 2011, some portions published as early as 2000.
Nonfiction, 381 pages including notes, index, and reading group guide.
Lexile:  1140L  .
AR Level:  8.0 (worth 18.0 points) .

Henrietta Lacks had an usual type of cancer.  Cells from this cancer were able to become the first immortal cell line and have been invaluable to many scientific discoveries and advancements in the past century.  But Henrietta was also a working-class black woman whose family was not informed of the existence of this cell line, and who died misdiagnosed.  This book manages to tell three stories: the story of Henrietta and the Lacks family, the story of her famous and scientifically important cells, and the story of the reporter’s own experiences interacting with the family.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The movie tie-in cover tricked me.  I needed to grab a Target pick quickly, so I grabbed this book without realizing it was one I had flagged as do not purchase/obtain from friend or library.  As you can tell, reading this book was something I was conflicted about, and after finishing it, I remain deeply conflicted and uncertain if I can recommend it (though I know a great deal more about the HeLa controversies than I did before reading this).

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Graphic Novel Review: Fun Home

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel.
Mariner Books Imprint, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 2006, my edition 2007.
Graphic novel memoir, 232 pages.
Not leveled.
NOTE: This book is intended for adults, not children.

After reading a good portion of this, it felt familiar.  I think I read at least part of it before either as a library checkout, or an excerpt posted online or put in another anthology.  This was published at about the time I went through a lot of graphic novels, so it’s conceivable I read this and either did not finish or simply forgot it because of the volume of books I was reading at the time (once upon a time I used to finish a book every day).

This story explores both the author’s understanding of her sexuality and gender expression as well as her father’s death.  Bechdel comes to terms with being a butch lesbian raised in a small town by brilliant but self-absorbed parents.  She writes about how she learned about her own sexuality, coming out to her parents, being drawn to men’s clothing even as her gay father tried to feminize her, making her wear dresses and do her hair a certain way.

Fun Home cover
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel.

Shortly after her mother asks for a divorce, her father jumps into the path of a truck while Bechdel is away at college.  There are some signs it may have been a suicide and others that it was an accident.

The story is even more darkly comedic because the Bechdel family owns the local funeral home.  This part-time job means the kids grow up playing between caskets and see bodies being embalmed at an early age.  The “Fun Home” of the title was the family’s nickname for the funeral parlor.  However the title could also refer to their family home; lovingly restored by her father with little input from the rest of the family, it was a dollhouse in which they still had to live.

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Graphic Novel Review: Johnny Hiro

A unique spin on both superhero life and adulting.

Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero by Fred Chao.
Tor, New York, 2012 (some materials previously published in other formats).
Everyday superhero graphic novel, 190 pages.
Not leveled.
NOTE: This is a work of fiction although I’m not posting it on Fiction Friday.

Johnny Hiro is your average half-Japanese busboy with a knack for running into the absurd on the streets of New York.  He works in a sushi restaurant and dreams of one day being a chef, but is content to come home to his Japanese girlfriend Mayumi Murakami.

Johnny Hiro Half Asian All Hero

This was a fairly random find.  I had never heard of this book, never read a review of it or seen a promotion of it before coming across it at a local used bookstore.  The half Asian in the title and a cursory glance through the pages, combined with the price, was enough for me to purchase this delightfully whimsical book.

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