Discussion: Microaggressions in Fiction

A look at several books to try to articulate different ways of approaching microaggressions in literary texts.

Advertisements

Here’s a loaded question for you: When are microaggressions okay in literature?

This question came up today as I was reading a book review over at Sinead’s blog.

After I had written several paragraphs in the comment box, trying to clarify my thoughts on the subject, it made sense to just write my own post and ask for feedback on this question.

Continue reading “Discussion: Microaggressions in Fiction”

Review: Highly Unusual Magic

“In the United States, people thought of Leila as Pakistani. But here, people thought of her as American.” page 45

A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic by Lisa Papademetriou.
Harper, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2015.
Modern fantasy, 297 pages.
Highly Commended by the South Asia Book Award.
Lexile:  710L  .
AR Level:  4.9 (worth 8.0 points)  .

Two girls, each living with extended family for the summer, find a book entitled The Exquisite Corpse, surprisingly blank until one writes in it.  Then the book itself starts filling in a story, a story which has interesting ties to the real world, a story which both girls are anxious to read the ending to.

Tale of Highly Unusual Magic

I generally dislike books with two narrators.  Often one is stronger than the other, and the author struggles to give them equal screen time while keeping our interest in the story.  However, when this method works, it can be very strong.

Highly Unusual Magic starts with Kai, who is staying with a quirky older woman, a distant cousin whom she calls Aunt.  Leila is visiting relatives in Pakistan alone and realizing that she doesn’t speak the language, and knows little about Islam although her family is nominally Muslim.

Continue reading “Review: Highly Unusual Magic”

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

“Rishi had heard once you were attracted to someone, your brain could actually rewire itself and make you think all kinds of sucky things about them were perfect.” page 197

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon.
Simon Pulse, Simon and Schuster, New York, 2017.
YA romance, 378 pages.
Not yet leveled.
NOTE: This is a work of fiction although I’m not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.

Dimple is shocked when her parents are willing to pay for her to attend a special summer program for web developers – she could have sworn her mother didn’t understand that programming, not marriage, is her life passion.  Rishi doesn’t mind attending the same camp – it’s not much of a detour for the chance to meet his future wife early – and he knows his family has found his perfect lifelong partner.

When Dimple Met Rishi cover resized

This book (and the other I preordered) arrived!  Family obligations held me until 9 p.m., but then I was able to read and read.  Because of the time constraints of the #AsianLitBingo challenge, this review is after only one reading, and I’m backdating it to post on the 30th, when I read this.  If other things jump out at me, I’ll edit this post.
Edited to Add: Actually, Sinead’s review covers what I missed – some ableism, a hypocritical statement, the humor and inclusion of Hindi, etc.

Continue reading “Review: When Dimple Met Rishi”

Review: A Time to Dance

“There are no dancers / on this temple’s walls. / Here, even Shiva / stands still.” page 99

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman.
Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Group, New York, 2014.
Novel in verse, 307 pages.
Lexile:  720L  .
AR Level:  4.8 (worth 5.0 points)  .

Veda is a classical dance prodigy starting out on a glorious career in Bharatanatyam when her leg has to be amputated.  But dance is her life and the center of her being.  Can she forge a new life?  Can dance be part of it?

A Time to Dance

Pretty sure this is going on my favorite 2017 reads list although the competition will be steep this year.  Not what you expected me to say about a novel in verse, right?

My biggest problem with novels in verse is that they are incredibly difficult to balance.  I love novels, and I love poetry, but inevitably most novels in verse lose out either in plot or in poetry.  This book has ample plot and appropriate narrative arc, while still having generally gorgeous poetry.  I’m in awe of how Venkatraman pulled this off, because it is very, very difficult to do.

Continue reading “Review: A Time to Dance”

Web: Deaf YA and More

Katherine of FableHaven writes about her experiences reading YA as a Korean-American.

She also reviews a book I hadn’t heard of yet called Tone Deaf.  After a bit I found some information about it and an interview with the author on a Deaf book blog, Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature.

You're Welcome, Universe
You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner.

Based on this review over at Disability in Kidlit, I just ordered a copy of You’re Welcome, Universe, so I was happy to then see that Becca was pleased with the Indian-American representation.  If you’re interested, you can read the first 50 pages here.  I’m looking forward to reading the whole thing.

Review: Shine, Coconut Moon

“I’ve watched Apu at least a dozen times before with Mike and never had this feeling. I never thought it was uproariously funny like some of the kids at school or Mike did, but it never really bothered me either. Or did it, and I just ignored it?” page 127

Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger.
Margaret K. McElderry Imprint, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, New York, 2009 (my edition 2010).
YA historical fiction, 247 pages.
Lexile:  HL740L  (What does HL mean in Lexile?)
AR Level:  5.0 (worth 9.0 points)
NOTE: not suggested for elementary school students despite the reading level.

Samar, or Sam has never known much about her Punjabi heritage and never needed to.  After her father left, her mom cut all contact with her traditional Indian family.  So when her turbaned uncle shows up at the door after 9/11, Sam has no idea who he even is.

Shine, Coconut Moon resized

This is a coming-of-age young adult debut novel by an #ownvoice author.  I purchased this book as soon as I read Shenwei’s review.  I work with a number of Sikh and Indian students, and my original thought was to get this for one of my students.

However, after reading, I don’t think it would be suitable for that particular student.  She’s still in middle school, very sheltered, and quite devout.  I don’t think that the violence would be more than she can handle, but I think the underage drinking would bother her and keep her from getting to the parts more relevant to her life.  Perhaps when she is a little older.

Continue reading “Review: Shine, Coconut Moon”

Review: We Can!

The earliest readers need diverse books too! Here’s one appropriate for the beginning reader.

We Can! (also titled If You Can, I Can) by Gay Su Pinnell, illustrated by Barbara Duke.
Scholastic, New York, 2002.
Realistic fiction, 9 pages.
Lexile: BR  (What does BR mean in Lexile?)
AR: not leveled
NOTE: Intended for the earliest beginning readers, a later edition is titled If You Can, I Can.

We Can is the sweet story of two non-white brothers, told in extremely simple words with pictures carrying most of the story, for the earliest of pre-readers and beginning readers.

we-can-cover-cropped-resized
We Can! by Gay Su Pinnell, Illustrated by Barbara Duke.

I was delighted to find a nice selection of early readers at a local thrift store.  It is incredibly difficult to find a good batch of books at this level in general, let alone culturally appropriate and diverse books, so I quickly sorted through the stack to find any that had diverse characters.  At a dollar each, this particular store was a little expensive for pre-readers (most places sell used ones for 50 cents down even as low as 10 cents, especially for used books which have writing and highlighting in them as some of these did), so I wanted to only select those that I might not find elsewhere.

Continue reading “Review: We Can!”