Review: Abandon Me by Melissa Febos

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 8.51.53 PMDo you ever just wonder if you’re enough?

Febos’s memoir Abandon Me strikes a chord, and not just for her language, stylistic approach, and content. Febos’s writing shows readers the unfiltered, completely honest story of herself. There are no sepia overlays or blurred green goggles needed; her story is raw, poetic, and life affirming. Abandonment is a deep-seated demon all must face, but in each of us, our own path, our own enoughness.

Through several essays and one lengthy memoir-novella, Febos delves into the abandonments of her life and the leavings that have made her.

Abandon Me is a must read memoir for 2017. I hold it up to Lindy West’s Shrill and Glennon Doyle Melton’s Carry On, Warrior and Love, Warrior, as personal, all-time favorites.

For more on Abandon Me, published by Bloomsbury Publishing (USA) in February 2017, continue. 

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Review: All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 12.26.22 PM“I can’t wait for summer,” I say longingly to my cousin as we gaze out the window, the sun peaking out its rays for the first time this week. “I hate to do that—wish for time to pass on to something else—but honestly. Summer is the best, and the rest of the year is just kind of blegh. Is this what being an adult is?”

“Yep,” she answers, mock-enthusiastically.

“Well then shit! We’re all screwed.” Quickly, I shift the conversation to something about food—something that makes everyone happy—so that we can push past this awfully depressing representation of adulthood.

Jami Attenberg’s All Grown Up is Andrea Berg’s representation of what it means to be a grown up, and, for her, that has meant a couple decades of giving up her love, her art; attempting to find love, by dating varied and multiple men; and learning what it means to let go of love through tumultuous family relationships and hardships. While her life doesn’t necessarily lead her to my paradigm, it’s certainly another perspective than happily ever after.

For more on All Grown Up, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on March 7th, 2017, continue… 

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Review: History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 5.26.22 PMThis winter I’ve made a habit of attending book readings to keep myself entertained, so in January I headed up to Prairie Lights with some of my high schools students. Emily Fridlund read from her book History of Wolves with the cadence of a poet; her words drifted from her lips with a smooth, alto tone so lilting that I dreamt of sitting there for hours like a child.

And I’m not super fond of the “reading” portion of book readings, mind you.

Alas, she moved on to the book’s premise, and she discussed her novel’s attempt to address a young girl who’s manipulative instead of the victim, using her life and her connections to make the world turn in her favor.

Yet, after reading her novel, I’m not certain that’s what I read.

For more about History of Wolves, published by Atlantic Grove Press in January 2017, continue. 

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Review: Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia

I took a hiatus from reading in February. It was simultaneously awful and glorious. I am a reader; there’s no doubt about that. But sometimes even I have to take a break from my most ardent passions in order to get back to what is best for me. So I did, both, and here I am. I only read one of the texts from my previous post, and I’m still going…

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Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 4.58.37 PM“The best fiction will send us back into our lives with new eyes,” Mejia stated at a book reading in Iowa City in late February. “[It gives] a kind of psychosis [that] I think is very healthy.”

Readers of Everything You Want Me To Be will definitely be given a psychosis, but that psychosis, to my mind, is a more empathetic compassion toward those unlike themselves.

For more on Mejia’s Everything You Want Me To Be, published by Atria/Emily Bestler Books in January of 2017, continue…

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To Be Read // February 2017

For once, I think I might actually PLAN what I want to read for the next month. Heretofore, I’ve always subscribed to a serendipitous schedule: if I’m meant to read a book, it will find me! (Har, har. I know… That’s like waiting in one’s apartment for the love of her life to just knock on the door. Naive, naive.)

I’ve been racing through books so fast this year thanks to NetGalley and Blogging for Books that I’ve decided I might want to take stock of what I have and what I should read based on upcoming publication dates and events. Look at these beautiful specimens of literary magnificence below! I can hardly wait!

For more on my February TBR list and information about an author’s book reading that—gasp!—isn’t taking place in New York City or Chicago or some other urban metropolis which I cannot access… please read on. 

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Review: I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-4-43-06-pmStephen Covey’s famous 7 Habits of Highly Effective People champions the idea of meditating on the end of one’s life — what do you want to have done? … what kind of person do you want people to say you are? — to reevaluate his current stage and actions. It’s a great tool to consider if one is in the right career field or if she’s treating people the way she feels one should; if offers strategies to make the necessary changes if the answers aren’t up to par, too.

I’m reminded of this concept with Fabiaschi’s I Liked My Life since it begins with the suicide of Maddy Starling whom is narrating her puppeteer aspirations from the after life. She liked her life. She enjoyed her family and friends, and she found purpose in volunteering. So why did she not begin with the end in mind and only end all of it? As readers continue through the story, the fictive scenarios beg readers to consider their own lives and how they’re treating those around them as well.

Why did she end it? Who is to blame? These questions and many more permeate the entirety of the narrative for her husband Dave and her daughter Eve. They are left stranded in a quagmire of despair and self-loathing, thinking—as we all likely would—they’re to blame for her unexpected death.

But to what extent do family members really know one another? How responsible are those closest to us for our emotional state and stability? As the narrative plays out, Fabiaschi offers interesting answers to these questions, among others, as readers come to understand just why Maddy would end her life.

For more on I Liked My Life, set to be published by St. Martin’s Press on Jan. 31st, 2017, please continue. 

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Taking the Shoulder

blue-856818_1280It was a brisk 27 degrees this morning as I took my walk around the small town I call home. The sun decided to grace the day behind some hazy January gray, and the blue that peaked in was as breezy as a Jamaican sky. My pup, a Beagle Basset mix—a Bagle, if you will—did his job and pulled me along down the road for a mile and a half.

About halfway through our jaunt, we reach a section of road that has a semi-gravely shoulder. It’s my favorite part of our walk because the crunch and skidding of rocks immediately ricochets memories of walks I used to take with my grandmother.

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Review: Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-8-56-33-pm“Nothing to Prove.” “Why We Can’t Stop Trying So Hard.”

Well… The title AND subtitle hooked me, just a dead fish in the water. Why, yes I am tired of feeling like I have to prove myself to everyone, all of the timethank you for noticing! I thought.

If you’re like me, you also feel pulled in a million directions. If you have a job, if it’s not your boss it’s your employees (in my case, it’s students). If you’re a parent, it’s the consistent need and want of any and every age, even from great, loving kids. If you’re in a relationship, it’s the constant worry and concern over someone else; do they need anything? …can I help them in some way?

Life is hard. But Jennie Allen’s Nothing to Prove is definitely the book for Christian women* (even fallen away and non-believers) to reconnect with life, love, and Jesus.

For more on Nothing to Prove, set to be published by WaterBrook (an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House) on Jan. 31st, 2017, please continue.  

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Review: Our Short History by Laura Grodstein

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-8-39-25-pmOur histories are defined by how much time we have, or so we’re led to believe. My history with my son? Eleven years. My history with my friends? Going on twenty-five or so for the closest–twenty-eight for the shoe-ins, my cousins. My history with my parents? Thirty. (Not counting what I’m sure were their terribly boring first four years of marriage all alone without children. How did they ever survive?!)

Our histories are as long as we are allowed to make them.

Karen Neulander’s history with her son, Jake? Six years. So very short, indeed. Diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer in her early forties, the campaign manager no one wants to tousle with is now facing the toughest of all opponents: impending death. Grodstein offers a glimpse into Karen’s fictive experience of an all-too-real ordeal in her novel, which is set to be Karen’s book to her grown-up, future Jake; throughout the book itself, Karen details her current cancer updates, advice for her son, and family stories which she’ll not be around to tell.

For more on Our Short History, set to be published by Algonquin Books in March of 2017, continue. 

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We’re all coming down with The Privilege

capsize-184167_1920This time is a strange one. There have been so many events and upheavals and uprisings that, frankly, I’m feeling a little like I’m living in another decade. Surely this isn’t the aught-teens. Surely I’m not the same person I was in the late nineties when all we had to concern ourselves with were some pesky rumors about office aides and Whitewater (not that I knew a darn thing about either, at the time). Let it be known, also, that during that time, the main street in my town also had burgeoning small businesses aplenty with Enough To Go Around For Most.

What I’m saying is, I think we all got a little spoiled. And I can understand how people are really, super-duper upset right now—on both sides of the aisle, in Congress and at the grocery store.

However, let me plead with you for a second: please remember your privilege.

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