A New Orchid Myth by Helene Pilibosian
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
-I was provided a copy of this book thanks to the author of this title-
This is a sci-fi story told through verse–so I’m unsure if I should categorize it as poetry or science fiction. This work tells the tale of a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Everydream, who have traveled to Earth from another planet. Throughout the many poems, these two learn what it’s like to live all over the USA. They paint the flowing waters of the Hudson River, see the movie production in Hollywood, and spend time exploring the streets of New York. Mrs. Everydream gives birth to a daughter named Taralee and relatives from their home planet are out to steal the child. Mr. and Mrs. Everydream must communicate with their home planet to keep their daughter safe.
This story is only 95 pages, so it’s hard to summarize it without giving too much plot away. My synopsis cannot do the intricate plot justice, and I hope Helene Pilibosian can forgive me. That being said, this is such a phenomenal work of literature. I never would have expected myself to pick up a science fiction story told through verse; I haven’t read a poetry book in ages. I’m so glad that I gave this one a try because it’s beautifully written. Pilibosian truly has a way to make the reader think about what she’s describing and really paints a picture for the audience.
A New Orchid Myth exceeded all of my expectations for such a unique genre and I’d recommend it to all poetry lovers. As I said, it’s very short and easy to read in one sitting. I hope to read more from Helene Pilibosian in the future! A big thank you to her for sending me a physical copy as well!
Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado
Rating: 5/5 stars
“…let’s stop saying that poor people are irresponsible parents and start admitting that society doesn’t seem to believe that if you are poor you are entitled to be a parent at all.”
Linda Tirado published a blog post online describing what it’s like to live as a poor adult in America. The positive feedback and hundreds of emails agreeing with her post led her to Hand to Mouth, essentially a way of showing the world what it’s really like being poor. This is not an “investigative project” about a middle or upper class citizen learning about poverty, this is written by someone experiencing the reality of it. Tirado splits her book into multiple categories– children, houses, work environment, doctors’ appointments, etc. She explains many questions that middle and upper class people have about poor people, “why do poor people spend their money on cigarettes?”, “why don’t they just use food stamps if they’re so poor?” and ends with a letter to rich people.
This book was extremely eye-opening. I can see this novel getting compared to Nickel and Dimed, which I read a few years ago. Honestly, Hand to Mouth is easier to read and I would definitely recommend it over the other. I read this book in one sitting–it’s pretty short but very interesting.
I love how Tirado portrayed the seriousness of her poverty while also adding a bit of satire. The title of the chapter about food is called “I’ve Got Way Bigger Problems Than a Spinach Salad Can Solve”. She’s right! Why would someone who’s making minimum wage (or below it, for that matter) spend half a day’s worth of pay on a spinach salad for one person when the same money could be used towards feeding an entire family “unhealthy” food.
Tirado does an excellent job showing the world why some of the stereotypes of people living in poverty are true. She explains the reality of being poor and how it’s impossible to “move up the ladder” class-wise. This was a great nonfiction book for me (I needed to break the fiction spell) and I would really recommend it to anyone looking for a quick book about what its really like to be poor in America.
The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson
Release date: June 30th, 2015
Rating: 5/5 stars
-I was given an Advance Review Copy of this book by the Penguin Press-
Dionne and Phaedra are two adolescent sisters living with their mom, Avril, in Brooklyn. After deciding that the girls need to get more in touch with their extended family, Avril sends the girls to Barbados for the summer. Dionne and Phaedra spend those hot months living with their grandmother and attending Catholic Summer School–which is very different from the way they were living in New York. Phone calls and letters from Avril become scarce, and the girls become closer to their grandmother and community in Barbados. Both Dionne and Phaedra use this summer to grow and learn more about the family their mother left behind.
This is such a beautiful coming of age novel for two girls. Dionne and Phaedra are, by far, different characters but they both come to a point of realization and mental/emotional growth by the end of the novel. They share the narration of the story equally and the reader comfortably gets to know both characters and understand how their brains work.
I loved this book, I loved the writing, and I loved the characters. Jackson did such a phenomenal job with character development, even for the somewhat minor ones. I feel like I really got to know the grandmother, the neighbors, and the classmates that interacted with the girls every day. Since I am closer to Dionne’s age, I connected with her the most. Jackson definitely made her struggles genuine. They are struggles that I’ve dealt with myself. Seeing Dionne grow into a confident young woman made me feel proud for her and I definitely saw aspects of my own life and decisions in her’s. There was definitely a big smile on my face when I was reading the ending of the novel.
I’m going to categorize this book in both the young adult and adult section of my blog. I truly think that all women and girls should read this book at some point so PLEASE put this on your “to buy/read” list for next month! I’m grateful that I got to read it in advance!
Another great reading month for me! I know I don’t have reviews up for all of these yet–I’m planning on spreading them out so my blog doesn’t spam your dashboards/email accounts. This month was 7 physical books and 3 e-books! Here’s the breakdown:
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (graphic novel) – 5/5 stars
1984 by George Orwell (adult dystopian) – 5/5 stars
Get in Trouble by Kelly Link (fiction) – 2/5 stars
Voice of Innocence by Lindsey Detwiler (YA contemporary)- 5/5 stars
Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler (sci-fi) – 4/5 stars
In the Blood of the Greeks by Mary D. Books (YA LGBTQ) – 5/5 stars
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams (sci-fi) – 4/5 stars
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (fiction) – 4.5/5 stars
Hand to Mouth by Linda Tirado (nonfiction) – 5/5 stars
Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat (LGBTQ/Erotica) – 4/5 stars