Review- Where Women Are Kings

Where Women Are Kings by Christie Watson

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetGenre: Fiction
Format: Paperback
Publication date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Other Press
Page count: 256
Star rating: 5/5

“She felt fiercely protective of him, with his slight frame and huge eyes. She realized that she loved him already, within days, that she’d kill anyone who hurt him.”

7 year old Elijah is looking for an adoptive family. In his short life, he’s been moved around quite a bit, as a result of being hard to work with and violent at some times. Finally, Elijah has found a couple who wants to permanently adopt him. Nikki and Obi make it their mission to provide the best home for Elijah as possible. Slowly, Elijah’s family history comes to light as his biological mother writes letters addressed to him. As more is learned about his birth and experiences as a baby, perhaps Elijah’s actions can be better understood. Nikki and Obi will no doubt try their best, and hopefully that’s enough for Elijah to prosper.

This is the first book in a long time that I finished in less than 24 hours. I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down. Books don’t usually make me cry, but Where Women Are Kings made me cry TWICE. Christie Watson really knows how to play with your heart. This was an all around amazing title. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars.

Where Women Are Kings has a unique format. It’s written in 2 styles. About half of it is in the view of Elijah or his parents. The other half is in a letter format from Elijah’s birth mother. I loved slowly figuring out Elijah’s story and piecing together why he might act out or behave the way he does. Elijah is so delicate and innocent; I wanted to fight for him because he has such a big heart, despite invisible struggles he faces every day. Obi and Nikki care about him so much and it was heartwarming to see their love for him grow and grow. The character development was so beautiful in this book.

I initially picked up Where Women Are Kings because reviews say it touches on racism and mental illness. Both of these themes were very prevalent in the book, so I was not let down. Elijah is Nigerian and Nikki is white. I enjoyed reading the racial and cultural sensitivity that Elijah’s case workers, therapist, and adoptive family give him. A white mother adopting a child of color is something that is so rare in literature, at least in books that I’ve read. It was refreshing to read a title that talked about the thought that goes into adopting child with different colored skin as oneself. In addition, the way Christie Watson wrote about serious mental illnesses was respectful and factual. I don’t want to give away too much, so that’s all I’ll say.

I want to give a big ‘thank you’ to Other Press for sending me a copy of this title for review. I’ve officially added this book to my ‘favorites’ shelf on Goodreads, which says a lot. I’m extremely thankful that such a wonderful and moving book found its way to me. I honestly want to give out copies of Where Women Are Kings to my friends for the holidays. I finished this book about 2 weeks ago and I’m still continuously blown away.

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Review- I Know Your Kind

I Know Your Kind: Poems by William Brewer

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetGenre: Poetry
Format: Paperback
Publication date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Page count: 96
Star rating: 5/5

This is a selection of poetry about the opioid epidemic, focusing on Oceana, West Virginia (sometimes called Oxyana). The poems’ subjects range from detox,  halfway houses, withdrawal, to Naloxone. I Know Your Kind is told in the voice of a someone, first hand, struggling with addiction.

I wish I could add more to my brief summary of this collection, as it’s far beyond merely a selection of poems told in the voice of an opioid addict. These poems have so much substance to them; they’re very powerful. They are powerful for two reasons– they can teach readers about the realities of addiction and they can make other addicts feel less alone in their struggles. I was extremely pleased with how touching, emotional, and human the voice in the poems read. I truly think this is an amazing work.

I want to highlight some lines that really blew me away.

“Who can stand another night

stealing fistfuls of pills

from our cancer-sick neighbors?”

 

“We were so hungry; Tom’s hand

on the table looked like it was warm bread.

I crushed it with a hammer”

Going back and reading all of the places I marked in this book (there were a lot of sticky tabs!)  prove how raw and honest William Brewer’s words are. I’ve never read a work that outlines these particular aspects of addiction: stealing pills from sick individuals and purposely harming oneself or friends to get a prescription for pain medication. These are topics not touched upon in many books about addiction, at least out of the handful that I’ve read. I loved the articulation and authenticity that went into the experiences that William Brewer chose to write about.

I want to tell everyone I know about I Know Your Kind. I think it has the power to educate those who have loved ones that struggle with addiction. I also think this work has the power to unite those struggling with addiction, whether they’re in recovery or not. These two reasons make this collection of poetry one of my favorites that I’ve read not only this year, but in the entire time I’ve run my book review website. I Know Your Kind really hit the mark. I’m so thankful that honest, real poems about the opioid epidemic exist and are accessible for anyone to read and learn from.

I want to give a big ‘thank you’ to Milkweed Editions for agreeing to send me a copy of this work in exchange for an honest review. I wish I had William Brewer’s personal email so I could tell him, myself, how touched I was by his words. I wish I had 20 copies to give out to friends and family to share this collection of bravery and power. I very much look forward to reading more works from Milkweed Editions in the future, as I Know Your Kind was an excellent addition to my blog and my bookshelf of ‘favorites’.