I loved the adorably awkward Norris Kaplan in Ben Philippe’s The Field Guide to the North American Teenager. The Haitian-Canadian teen is a fish out of water when he moves to Austin, Texas, with his mother. The poor boy is “The New Kid” in high school and is having trouble adjusting to the Texas heat and making friends. At least he’s found a hockey team for some semblance of home.
Charming As a Verb was such a cute little gem. This is the second YA novel written by Haitian writer Ben Philippe that I’ve read. As I said in my review for The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, “we’re not dealing with gang/street violence, teen pregnancy, [or] drugs. That’s not the only experience of Black teens.” Once again, Philippe writes about a high school teen boy on a quest to attain #BlackBoyJoy.
Being the book nerd that I am, I of course requested a trip to a bookstore. Unfortunately, there aren’t any reasonably nearby Indie or Black-owned bookstores. There is a Barnes & Noble and I sure darkened its doorstep. H-h-h-hessica was working a half-day in-office, so her husband (poor guy) drove me. He was bored out of his mind as I frolicked through a bookstore for the first time in over a year.
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson is one of those memoirs, like The Glass Castle written by another Jeannette but with the last name Walls, that leaves you feeling flabbergasted, angry, and sad at the way grown folks who choose to become parents treat their children. In the case of Winterson, she is the adoptive daughter of a woman whom she refers to as Mrs. Winterson. Jeanette writes: “Books, for me, are a home. Books don’t make a home–they are one, in the sense that just as you do with a door, you open a book and you go inside. Inside there is a different kind of time and a different kind of space.”
I don’t usually gravitate towards psychological thrillers. I’m unsure about the reason. I enjoy them, even if a majority of the time I figure out the plot before it’s revealed. Things unfolded slowly and kept me guessing. The only part that felt rushed to me is the obligatory explanation of the villain’s backstory. It seemed to come out of nowhere, but it explained a lot and allowed for the book to progress as it did.
The Worst Best Man was a fun read. The characters, including Lina’s family, were well developed with their own background stories that tied into how they supported Lina. There are no mixed feelings when it comes to Lina, Max, or Andrew. I like that Sosa sprinkled in plenty of Portuguese, Brazilian customs, and delicious-sounding dish descriptions that made me want to hop onto Seamless and search Brazilian restaurants that deliver to Bed-Stuy. I’ve only had a few Brazilian eating experiences, one being on the company dime at Fogo de Chao. My taste buds were not the least bit disappointed with the savory meats and side dishes. The same can be said for my experience listening to The Worst Best Man.
I am a published writer in an anthology with Nikki Giovanni, V (formerly Eve Ensler), Kevin Powell, and over a hundred other writers. 2020: The Year That Changed America has changed my life.
I usually don’t like second-person narration, but the memoir also doubles as a letter to his mother, almost a love letter even. Even though she was abusive, he loved and loves her still and wishes to tell her all he experienced and went through growing up as a young Black man in America. Southern America. “I looked like a big, dark, black man since I was an eleven-year-old boy.” As a teen and a passenger in his mother’s car, a police officer pulled her over but asked for his ID, assuming he was an adult. Thank goodness his mother had the wherewithal to know her rights and to inform the cops that the passenger was not only her son, but a minor.