Adult · Book review · contemporary · Young adult

Reviews: Similar Ratings, Very Different Books

Here I am again, back with some very gay books I read recently of which I haven’t posted the reviews yet. One is a novel in verse with an F/F established couple; the other a genrebending M/M novella.


I think that at this point it’s safe to say that dual PoV novels in verse don’t work for me. I’ve looked at what set the poetry novels that did work for me and the ones that didn’t apart, and the pattern is clear.

I love Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing style, so I did end up liking this, but when I think about my experience with her previous novels, Clap When You Land pales in comparison – despite having something that her previous two books don’t have but really matters to me, a sapphic main character and F/F romance. Unsurprisingly, the very sweet, supportive and already established relationship between Yahaira and Dre was my favorite part of the novel (also because I could see a lot of myself in Dre; I, too, was a teenage plant gay who easily fell into all-or-nothing thinking).

When talking about Acevedo’s books, many people will recommend the audiobooks. This time, I will too, but for the wrong reasons: I read this alternating between ebook and audio, and the two narrators really helped me tell the two girls apart in the scenes in which they’re both in the same place, as I didn’t feel they had distinct enough voices in that situation. It wasn’t a problem for the rest of the book, as they are apart for most of it – but that’s also something I didn’t love, because it takes so long for them to even learn about each other, and we end up not seeing a lot of them together.

I appreciated that this was more than anything a story about sisterhood, family, grief, and the double-faced nature of tragedies, how they can tear you apart while bringing you closer to other people. After all, this starts with two sisters discovering each other’s existence because their father, who had two families in two different countries, just died in a plane crash.

This book has many things going for it: it’s about Black women supporting each other, it’s a contemporary mostly set in the Dominican Republic, and it talks about what it’s like to have to leave, what it’s like to be bilingual in the DR compared to the US, and many other differences between the two countries with all kinds of impacts. I wish I had liked it more, that I hadn’t felt like the characters were more like faded outlines than people, which I really do think was caused by the format. Poetry, to me, feels personal in a way that just doesn’t suit the added distance inherent to a multi-PoV book.

My rating: ★★★½

[apart from all I’ve already mentioned, TW for sexual assault in both plotlines]


On the surface, The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps is a story about Demane, a “sorcerer” accompanying the Captain he loves in a dangerous journey across the desert and then the Wildeeps, where he’ll have to face something powerful and horrible. It’s not necessarily always linear, and there’s very little plot, because its heart is elsewhere.

I want to point out that I can’t do this novella justice. This is a book whose very structure and use of English is a commentary on language and what’s considered respectable, portraying the experience and struggles of a multilingual protagonist with that. I know I missed half of it because I’m ESL and don’t recognize the nuances of different forms and registers of the English language that well. The irony isn’t lost on me and I’m not sure how I feel about it?

That’s far from the only thing this novella did with language, however. Code-switching is part of its structure on multiple levels, and language is used to lay down the worldbuilding, which even holds a sci-fantasy twist inside. One of the things I look for the most in short fiction is the unraveling of genre boundaries, so I really appreciated what I understood of this book. There are pieces of dialogue written in other languages as well – not something I often see in fantasy stories that don’t seem to be directly tied to the Earth we know currently. I think this choice might have been made to use how these languages are coded in American society to “translate” the situations in terms an American might understand, which I have mixed feelings about.
(There are some… let’s say puzzling choices made with Italian words, but this is an American book and I don’t have it in me to have expectations anymore.)

It’s also really gay! (But keep in mind, this is not a happy story.) It explores expectations placed on male sexuality and the meaning of masculinity across cultures, and the shock Demane feels relating to this as well, for many reasons – one of the more prominent being that while he’s great at fighting (superhumanly so), his heart has always been in protecting and healing.
My appreciation for this is somewhat dampened by the absence of even one named female character (especially given that of the few women who do appear is an underage sex slave).

My rating: ★★★


Have you read or want to read any of these?

Book review · Nonfiction

Unexpected Nonfiction & Poetry Time

This month, Scribd is free without needing payment info, so I created an account I’ll probably not renew after these 30 days are over (for personal reasons unrelated to the actual platform, my experience with it so far is great!). The unexpected result? Having access to so many books for free gave me a reason to:

  • listen to adult fantasy audiobooks, which are usually far too expensive (25 € for a book? Especially for a reread? Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen)
  • read completely outside of my comfort zone – and especially reach for books that were on my radar for a while but that I had heard so little about I didn’t feel comfortable buying them.

The result? A nonfiction & poetry binge. 2016!me, no, who am I kidding, even 2019!me would be incredibly confused.

I must be getting old!


Poetry Collections

This is a format that is definitely out of my comfort zone, as I don’t think I had ever read any before now! I have read and loved poetry novels, though (The Poet X, The Black Flamingo), so I thought exploring was a good idea.

41745412Soft Science is a poetry collection that had been on my “maybe TBR” for more than two months now, mostly because of the cover.  Reading it felt like trying to grasp onto something as it disintegrates in your hands and falls through your fingers, which I guess is what the author was going for.

I didn’t get a lot of this. It’s probably not the right collection to start with if you – like me – aren’t used to reading poetry at all, but it was still a really interesting experience. Taken literally, there’s often not a lot to get, because everything in this collection is an exercise in breaking apart, shattering and mixing words, playing with format and the many ways English can be broken and still carry so much meaning if only you look at it sideways.

A lot of this is also talking about perspective and its consequence, othering. No wonder a lot of its imagery relies on cyborgs and AIs. It’s about living as a woman in our world, in which being hammered into a shape made to please others is just a day like another and sex is a no-win situation; it’s about living as a queer Asian-American woman in America, in which racism and xenophobia are everyday occurrences and the internet highlights the worst of it.

It made me think about language barriers, and how there was yet another, unexpected one because of my first language, and try as I might holding onto English will always be more difficult to me.
So, no, I didn’t understand a lot of this. It might have been the point. I might be missing the point entirely. That still doesn’t mean this has no value, even when so much of our ways to measure worth and consciousness rely on something as self-centered as understanding and “relatability”. It made me think about many things in a more indirect way, so I guess it worked.

My rating: ★★★★

27207807._sy475_Another collection I tried was soft magic. by Upile Chisala (I noticed it by chance, and after reading Soft Science, it only felt right? And it was really short), which unfortunately I didn’t like as much. It was sweet, heartwarming, and very straightforward, which apparently aren’t things I look for in poetry. At least now I know?

I decided not to rate this, as my reasons for not liking this had also to do with personal disconnect, and when I’m not the target audience for this – it’s a collection with strong religious themes specifically aimed at Black women and I’m neither religious nor Black – it just didn’t feel right to.


Nonfiction

46391051._sy475_I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl’s Notes from the End of the World by Kai Cheng Thom is a collection of essays and poetry that mostly ended up on my reading list because of something I read on autostraddle – I don’t remember where exactly, but this was one of the recommendations.

I don’t really know how to review nonfiction made up of essays and poetry, but this was definitely a worthwhile read. It’s an attempt to reframe how we think about justice and the meaning itself of healing in marginalized communities – where so many of us are traumatized, and it talks both about the concept of safety in the context of trauma and about the commodification of trauma in the Discourse™.

As there is a lot in here about how queer communities fail their members that uncannily (or maybe not, all things considered) mirrors queer book twitter’s most dysfunctional behavior patterns, I think many of my friends and followers could get something out of it as well.

My rating: ★★★★★

51778952._sx318_sy475_Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement, edited by Ejeris Dixon & Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a collection of essays, interviews and toolkits on transformative justice that also ended up on my radar because of autostraddle (this time, because of a review. Sometimes I do remember things.)

It explores how justice can look like outside of a system as ineffective at actually reducing violence and supporting survivors as it is the prison system in America, with a focus on trans, queer, and disabled communities of color.

It was a really interesting read: it focuses on the how of something that so far I had only seen mentioned as theory before – when there are people doing this.

My thoughts varied from “I strongly agree and wish that was already a more widespread reality” and “this is a life-changing perspective” to “that sounds like a terrible idea” depending on the essay, so, just as fiction collections, nonfiction collections are bound to be mixed bags! It’s still really honest about the many ways these kinds of process can fail, which I really appreciated – after all, it’s still barely-charted territory. Overall, I also think our  world would greatly benefit if the focus of justice were on the future, on healing and moving on and taking the steps to make sure that something doesn’t happen again, instead of handing out punishments that often make things worse for everyone anyway.

My rating: ★★★★

17465709Since I just read a nonfiction book about healing between humans, it only seemed right to read something specifically about healing human’s relationship with what is not human, so I read Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, in which the author brings her perspective both as a professor of environmental biology and as a Potawatomi woman to talk about humans’ relationship with the environment.

In a time in which ecofascism (the belief that humans are somehow inherently separated from “nature”, which must be preserved “pure” and “untouched”, as if we weren’t all an interdependent net) is on the rise, I think this is an incredibly important read and was really valuable to me both as someone who is definitely feeling the weight of climate anxiety and as a natural sciences student.

I think it’s going to be even more valuable for someone who actually lives in Turtle Island/North America, because something inherent to environmental knowledge is that while some things are universal, you can’t talk about everywhere by using a specific place as a model; every place has its own species and communities and interactions and… different things to say, in a way. And different people, of course. (It would be such a huge mistake to not include the humans; we are a part of the communities and ecosystems just as much as everyone else, and while we have a lot in common with each other, we are never the same.)

I think that in this age of global warming it’s easy to despair and think that humans are inherently bad and can do nothing but damage. This book is an answer to that, and it talks about how science, indigenous wisdom, and our ability to actually understand what the environment says (so, learning to read the signals that are its language) can show us a different way to exist.

Also, sometimes it’s really nice to read from someone who is also involved in botanical science and has very strong “unscientific” feelings and opinions on plants. It can also be a strength – I don’t know if I would have grown up learning to distinguish trees the way I do had I not been like that.

My rating: ★★★★ (a little repetitive at times)


Have you read or want to read any of these? Do you read poetry collections and nonfiction often?

 

Book review · contemporary · Fantasy

Reviews: Two Books I Loved

Today I’ll review two books I loved this summer, the flash fiction collection The Fox’s Tower and Other Tales by Yoon Ha Lee and the poetry novel The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta. I’ve already mentioned them on this blog multiple times, but I never got around to reviewing them, and that needed to change.

Since we’re nearing the end of the year and many of us are behind on various reading challenges, I also want to mention that both of these are really short and quick reads.


25733384._sy475_The Fox’s Tower and Other Tales is a collection of flash fairytales, many of which gay, many of which featuring shapeshifting foxes and fox spirits, all of them delightful.

This was the book equivalent of a chocolate box. Every story is just a few pages, and maybe not all of them are as memorable, but all of them are pretty and a pleasure to read. And the ones that are memorable are the kind of stories I will never forget, for their wonderful atmosphere or their clever endings or just for how much they made me happy. I feel like we tend to talk a lot about the books that manage to make us cry, and while I can appreciate occasional heartbreak, books like this one will always be more valuable to me.

In The Fox’s Tower and Other Tales you’ll meet dormouse paladins, non-binary oracles, stories about animal wives with a gay twist, and so many surprisingly cuddly foxes. Here you’ll find stories to remind you that a dragon is a state of mind, stories that will give you some insight into the lives of carousel horses, stories that will show you how shadows are just another reminder of the importance of heartlight.

Apart from the really appreciated casual queerness these stories are full of, what I loved the most about this collection were the descriptions. They’re as unique as they’re beautiful, and maybe talking about crystals unfed by unsunlight and the ice-fruit of stars shouldn’t make sense but it does, it always does.

Also, if you’ve read Ninefox Gambit, a fun part is noticing how in some of these stories there are small references to the trilogy, so much that I almost think of this book as “what the people in the world of the Machineries of Empiretrilogy tell as fairytales”. I think the three prose poems – How the Andan Court explicitly, but very likely also Candles and Thunder – were written specifically with some of those characters/parts of that world in mind. The prose poems are really pretty even if you don’t know the context, but with context… I have too many feelings that I can’t put them into words.

Apart from the prose poems, my favorite stories were The Virtues of Magpies, featuring a non-binary youth and their mischievous magical magpie friends, and The Red Braid, whose ending was everything to me. Also, The Firziak Mountains made me laugh, and stories like The Youngest FoxThe Fox’s Forest and The Crane Wife were adorable.

My rating: ★★★★★


41020406._sx318_A beautiful coming-of-age story about a gay biracial black boy as he find his voice through poetry and drag.

For me, it’s always a breath of fresh air to read about marginalized characters who are not from the US. Yes, Michael is British, and it’s not difficult to find stories set in England, but stories about marginalized characters in contemporary are overwhelmingly American. In this story, you’ll see Michael come to terms with what it means for him to be British and Jamaican and Cypriot; to be all of these things and also a gay man, one who wants to be a drag artist.

It’s a really emotional journey, one I would really recommend to everyone who liked The Poet X. The poems in here were so beautiful, especially the ones about biracial and multicultural identity not being made of halves, about best friends being the ones who can hurt you the most with their internalized homophobia and racism (House of Mirrors. That hurt so much), about toxic masculinity, and the final one about coming out.
I also thought that the way this book focused on family relationships – Michael’s somewhat complicated relationship with his mother, who accepts him but still messes up; Michael’s nonexistent relationship with his father; his connection with his uncle and grandmother on his father’s side – and friendships was something that isn’t as common as it should be in YA. Daisy’s (his best friend) storyline was probably my favorite part of the book.

I also really liked the flamingo symbolism, and all the illustrations.

My rating: ★★★★½


Have you read any good short fiction/poetry lately?

Discussion

Out Of My Comfort Zone #3

The third post in my Out of My Comfort Zone series! If you missed them, part one was about comics, part two about my experience with an audiobook.

I didn’t know what my next Out of My Comfort Zone post was going to be about. I have no time lately to read novels that aren’t ARCs – so full-length adult contemporary romance was out of the question, even though it’s a post I’m planning. I’m also currently writing my post about webcomics, but I’ll need some more time for that.

I wanted something even shorter, and then I remembered that… I never read poetry. And I really should try sometimes.

So, today I’m talking about short sci-fi and fantasy poetry I found and read on some of the sites that usually publish my favorite sci-fi and fantasy prose short fiction.


Why I Usually Don’t Read English Poetry

The “English” part is there because I have read a lot of old Italian poetry, because of school. I disliked most of it – I know you can’t see me now Carducci but really why are you still inflicted on young people today? And Foscolo, what did hoopoes ever do to hurt you? – but that’s what happens when you are forced to read something, I guess.

Anyway. The reason I rarely read English poetry is that I don’t follow a lot of people who read it, and the kind of poetry that gets really popular isn’t the kind that… speaks to me? With “the kind of poetry”, I mean personal collections about trauma and feminism. I have tried excerpts of some of the most popular ones in the past, felt nothing, and decided it just wasn’t my thing. Maybe I could find some collections I liked if I looked more into the genre, I don’t know. But I wanted to try something I’m more likely to enjoy right now, so… short SFF in verse.

[I’ve also had mixed experiences with poetry novels – I loved The Poet X and strongly disliked The Sisters of the Winter Wood – but I think those are another thing entirely.]


What I Read

When I noticed that there was free poetry written by one of my favorite short fiction authors ever on Uncanny Magazine, I knew I had to try it immediately. I’m talking about Cassandra Khaw, and I don’t know why I had never looked into whether she wrote poetry, because she’s the kind of writer whose prose feels like poetry. I wrote down parts of I Built This City For You instead of my notes during Latin because I couldn’t get them out of my head*.

A Letter from One Woman to Another – as I thought, her writing is perfect for this. The part between “I want to pretend” and “forward”? Wow. Why do some words, when put together in that order, with those line breaks, sound so well? This is about not settling down for mediocre men, by the way, which is a message I always appreciate.

I’m now also going to try authors I had never head of before:

hypothesis for apocalypse by Khairani Barokka – I’m not… sure what this is about, to be honest, but the imagery is creepy and it sounds nice when read aloud. I think it’s about agency and the lack of it, but I could be wrong. Interesting, in a good way, since you could read this (very short) poem in many different ways.

She by Heather Averhoff – this is so short, and yet… I can see it. A fractured poem for a shattered woman we see in pieces at the edges of our field of vision. Is this about a violent death? I’m not sure, but I could see it that way. It makes sense even though I’m not sure what that sense actually is. Which kind of seems to be a theme, but I don’t mind that?

Red Berries by Jennifer Crow – this one was lovely. Not only it had a perfect wintry atmosphere and imagery I loved (red berries against the snow?? gorgeous, ok) but it also had a vaguely monster romance feel. I could kind of see this as a scene in Deathless, if only it were darker.

A View From Inside of the Refrigerator by Andrea Tang – this is about the woman in the refrigerator trope. It makes up for being somewhat obvious (especially if you’re aware of the trope already and have read it about before) by being well-written, and that ending couldn’t have been better.

The Modern Girl’s Guide to Dating the Paranormal by Sophie Dresser – listen everything that has a paranormal romance feel to it is good. It doesn’t look like it would sound as good if read aloud as some of the poems I talked about before, but I love the content and the ending here is perfect (those last two lines… they mean a lot to me. I’m putting together a post about hauntings to talk specifically about that).


Will I Read More SFF Poetry In the Future?

I have gone through a good part of the Uncanny Magazine and Strange Horizons poetry archive, and I have to say that most of the ones I tried didn’t work for me at all, and I decided to not talk about them in my “what I read” section because I didn’t want to repeat many times “I didn’t get this and it also sounded awkward to me”. However, the ones that worked for me were great – especially the Cassandra Khaw one, but I saw that coming – so I’m interested to see what these two magazines will publish in the future.

Reading SFF poetry is exactly like reading SFF prose short fiction, except it’s even more cryptic and hard to get but it sounds even better (and you know that part of the reason I like short fiction so much is that sometimes the writing style is an experience itself, something that isn’t true for most novels). I also liked that it’s far more open to interpretation, and what I see might not be what you see at all. I think it’s the kind of thing that would be interesting to discuss with people – also because all of these take just a few minutes to read.


* Yes, this is 100% normal Acqua behavior, I don’t think I ever took notes for an hour without them turning in either song lyrics, pieces of books in another language, or spoonerisms. My notes always end up being useless but at least my hands have something to do?


Do you read poetry? If so, which kind(s) of poetry?

Book review · Short fiction

October Short Fiction: Gods, Dinosaurs and Aroace Princesses

Today I’m reviewing some (mostly queer) short fiction I’ve read this month, including The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion by Lynn E. O’Connacht and short stories by some of my favorite authors.


41800952The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion is a retelling of Trushbeard following an asexual lesbian princess and an aroace queen. This novella follows a queerplatonic relationship, and diverse fairytale retellings are always something I’m looking for.

This is a fantasy book about two people who experience aphobia getting together and supporting each other, about the way an aphobic society doesn’t see relationships that aren’t romantic or sexual as worthy and important as the ones that are.

However, the way this story was written didn’t work for me. I appreciated what it was doing, but I couldn’t get into the format. This novella is told in verse and the characters are telling the story of how they met to each other, interrupting each other often. I think I would have liked this more if it had been told another way; this kind of storytelling adds distance between the reader and the events.
While the distance made this book an easier read at times – there’s a difference between reading a scene about forced kissing in a traditional format and reading it this way, because you know the characters are fine now – it also made me feel disconnected from everything. I liked reading about Edel and Marian, I liked their banter, and it’s always great to read something in which a non-romantic queer relationship is centered, but I didn’t feel strongly about these characters or their relationship.

My rating: ★★¾

I received an ARC (advanced reader copy) from the author. All opinions are my own.


Short Stories

By Claw, By Hand, By Silent Speech by Elsa Sjunneson-Henry & A. Merc RustadUncanny Magazine, Issue Twenty-Three – ★★★★
This story follows a Deaf paleontologist who is trying to communicate with a velociraptor through sign language. I love reading stories about humans interacting with animals, and it becomes objectively more interesting when the main characters are a scientist (…disabled women in science!) and a dinosaur. I loved seeing how the characters learned to understand (and not eat) each other. Anyway, I would have read more of this – if not a whole book, at least a novella – to know more about both the main character and Velma the velociraptor.

Court of Birth, Court of Strength by Aliette de Bodard, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue #261 – ★★★★★
This is a prequel set in the world of The House of Shattered Wings and it’s the story of how Samariel and Asmodeus met. I love everything about this world and its characters, so when I knew this existed, I started reading it immediately. It confirmed that I love Asmodeus a lot and it also made me understand that I’ll suffer when I’ll reread the first book in this series. I loved these two as a couple far more than I wanted. I mean, the premise of “gay fallen angels trying to find a lost child in post-apocalyptic Paris, featuring lots of flirting and questionable morals” would have sounded awesome even if I hadn’t already known the characters in question, and I’m pretty sure you don’t need to know them to enjoy this, but knowing the context adds a lot. Now I want to know what’s up with House Harrier…
Another thing I liked was how this story talked about loyalty and whether the end justifies the means – would you save a child if doing so would risk starting a war? (Why do I like it so much when characters are in all-around terrible situations and everyone is wrong?)

A Taxonomy of Hurts by Kate Dollarhyde, Fireside Magazine, Issue #58 – ★★★½
I loved the premise of this story – it’s set in a world in which people’s painful memories have a shape. The narrator is able to see them and touch them, and they get obsessed with classifying them (hence the “taxonomy”). They also want to know how their own hurts look like. I liked the message about trauma and supporting each other inside a relationship, but the story itself was very short and not that memorable. However, every story that mentions the fungus Laccaria amethystina is a good story.

Between the Firmaments by JY Yang, serialized story on thebooksmugglers.com (first link is part one, here are part two and part three) – ★★★★
This serialized story follows two gods, Bariegh of the Jungle and Sunyol, as they fall in love in a city in which being a god is both forbidden and dangerous. This is a story about what colonization does to a country and its culture – Bariegh, Sunyol and young Sisu live in a place in which the colonizers, the “blasphemers”, have found a way to trap and harvest magic from gods, so they have to stay hidden. But it’s also a story about belonging, finding your own people, and reclaiming what was yours in the first place.
I really liked the queer romance, but what I loved the most about this story was the writing: I loved Bariegh’s narration and the descriptions of the magic.

Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia in Toil & Trouble, edited by Jessica Spotswood & Tess Sharpe – ★★★★½
I loved this one! It follows a latinx witch whose magic is tied to stars and astrology. It’s a modern-day story about recovery, finding hope in yourself and your life again, and the cute beginning of an f/f romance. I would read at least a novella of this, I loved Luna and I want to know more about the girl she met through instagram.
[This is probably the only time the short story I was interested in out of an entire anthology is at the beginning, so that I can get it for free by reading the preview on google play.]

The Coin of Heart’s Desire by Yoon Ha Lee, Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 100, reprinted from Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales, edited by Paula Guran – ★★★★★
This one surprised me. Not because of the beautiful descriptions or the fact that the worldbuilding is really good for a very short fairytale, as I expect all of those things from Yoon Ha Lee’s short fiction. This time, I just really didn’t see the ending coming. This is a story about a teenage empress, dragons, and bargains. Some aspects of it were inspired by Korean folklore. I always fall in love with Lee’s worlds and now I want to know more about this one too.


Have you read any good short fiction lately?

Book review · contemporary · Young adult

Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

33294200The Poet X was a surprise.
I’m not usually a poetry reader, and I wasn’t sure a story told entirely through poems could work, but here it did. Not every poem was memorable in its own right, but as a whole, this book certainly was.

This book follows Xiomara Batista, a Dominican-American girl who is finding herself through poetry in a difficult moment of her life. Her mother is religious and strict, but Xiomara is doubting her faith, her place in the world, and definitely isn’t ready for confirmation. She wants to date, she doesn’t want to be treated unfairly by her family just because she is a girl, she doesn’t want her brother to be in danger just because he’s gay – she writes all of this in her poems, in English, and sometimes in Spanish.

This book managed to develop a really interesting main character and many side characters just through poems, with the littlest amount of words necessary. My favorite poems were those about the teacher Ms Galiano and Xiomara’s best friend Caridad. The Caridad and I Shouldn’t Be Friends poem made me tear up.

Another really interesting part was the exploration of faith and what it means to not believe when you are in a religious family/environment. I haven’t read many books that dealt with this, but I have been in a situation similar to Xiomara’s, and all of this felt almost too close to me. I’m not used to books that deal with this kind of topic; maybe it’s not the Average American experience? I don’t know.
(I do know that most Americans did not grow up in a mostly-Catholic place, but it’s not like religion isn’t a thing for the average white American, so why do books almost never deal with that?)

There was one point in which the story wasn’t as interesting (I’m really not a romance person, so all the poems about Xiomara’s crush weren’t my thing), but I loved this book and its characters.

My rating: ★★★★½