The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae – Book Review

I’ve put off writing this review for far too long – because I did and didn’t love this book, and I’ve been struggling to put that into words.

I really enjoy reading books/memoirs/essays by funny people, especially women.  I’ve loved Bossypants, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, and Yes, Please!  I read The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Jo-Issa Rae Diop through NetGalley, anticipating that it would be along those lines, and it was.  The tricky part is that I was not previously familiar with Issa Rae’s work, so I didn’t read it to myself in her voice, and I probably missed out for that.  However, now I’ve heard of her, and that’s a good thing.

I was uncomfortable at times, but it felt really good to have my perspective stretched – when I was rendered most awkward (perhaps it was all part of her plan!!) was when I was reading some of her stories that were farthest from my own experiences.  The ABG Guides, especially Types of Black People and Connecting with Other Blacks did not resonate for me and seemed out of place, but I might not be the target audience.

However, awkward crosses those racial lines, and while no one has ever expected me to be a great dancer, I found a lot to identify with and laugh about.  I most enjoyed the stories about her life, and she really captures some of the most awkward phases of growing up very well.  She nails being introverted, female, overweight, and awkward, but she also seems so cool now that I almost have my doubts that she was as awkward as she portrays.  I longed for a more coherent story arc through the book, however, as the essays skip around and don’t build to any real conclusions.  Issa Rae’s writing was conversational and easy to read, but sometimes repetitive and disorganized.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading strong, funny women – I don’t think Issa Rae has as strong a voice yet as Tina Fey or Amy Poehler, but I think she’s on her way.

Book Reviews!

As a librarian, I’m privileged to be a member of NetGalley, which allows me to download and review advanced reader copies of books not yet published. Lucky Me! I’m also starting to get back into reading more frequently, so I just managed to finally read the first two titles I downloaded from NetGalley. They seem to have been already published…but I went ahead and reviewed them anyhow. Better late than never.

Now, it’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed a book, so please feel free to point out (in your kindest voice) how I could be doing this better, because while it was really fun to read these books with the knowledge that I’d need to review them at the end, I also feel like there is always room for improvement. Thanks for your help!

Without further ado:
Girls Like Us, by Gail Giles
Regardless of our race, wealth, or intellectual speed, we all sometimes need some help learning how to relate to others. This book offers a special window into the minds of two girls trying to find their way in the world, and turns the mirror on the reader and their assumptions about how others think and feel, and how to relate without being unintentionally hurtful or condescending. This book deals with some truly awful topics with compassion and clarity, and reminds the reader that we all have value in this world, whether we realize it or not.

Percolate: Let Your Best Self Filter Through, by Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino
Percolate is more fun than your average self-help book. With its light, conversational tone and abundant but not overwhelming coffee metaphors, it reads like a good long talk with a friend. Messages of strength, resilience, and positive attitude are powerful for anyone who needs a boost, but those who are going through a serious illness in their family or other domestic trauma will find much here to relate to and draw from.

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I am so grateful for yet another sunny day!  Summer’s last hurrah is such a fun time of year because once you have a shot of cold weather to contrast with, the warm weather seems that much more lovely.  I’m about to escape my cubicle for a walk in the sun, and I’m bringing my camera!

Annual post

I keep getting the urge to blog…so here I am.  The trouble is, I never seem to know what I ought to write about.  It’s not for a lack of things to say, it’s just that the decision to be public with one’s thoughts seems kind of complicated.

First, there are all sorts of topics that seem off-limits.  Work, because the library community is very small, and the town I work in is very small, and the good and the bad can really just stay in the building.  My children, because much as I love them and being their mama, that’s what Facebook is for!  Weight loss is something I struggle with constantly, but I’m not terribly successful at it, so it’s both embarrassing and uninteresting.  Knitting is something I do frequently, but I have so little to show for the small amount of time that I dedicate to it, although if I start taking better photos of my knitting it may be more appealing.  Beer is less of a passion than it used to be, mainly because the past three years have been spent pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to lose weight, or trying to get pregnant.  So what part of my life is left to blog about?  Good question.

Second, sometimes I feel some perfectionist tendency to wait to write until I have something profound to say.  But the truth of it is that really nothing I have to say is profound – I’m just an ordinary person, with ordinary things to say and a handful of people who might want to read those things.

Third, I have trouble dedicating time to anything different – I’m in a rut!  I get myself and Emmett and Greta ready for our day, I go to work, I come home and feed everyone, help put our children to bed, and then proceed to fritter away two pleasant hours with Jim before turning in.  Those two hours seem like prime time to catch up on exercise, reading, blogging, and knitting, right?  Somehow it rarely happens like that – it’s other enjoyable things like talking, watching movies or tv, and surfing the web semi-aimlessly.

So, dear blog, I’m back today, with no promises.  I don’t want to feel guilty about blogging or not blogging, but the truth is that I’ve wanted to put myself back here and get into the habit of visiting myself once in awhile.

More Gratitude

1.  Yoga.  Is there anything more basic than breathing and moving?

2.  Tea.  Warm, delicious, varied.

3.  Time.  Not that I don’t wish I had more of it, but I do have enough to do lots of things that I find fulfilling, interesting, and useful.

4.  Companionship.  Jim is absolutely one of the most compatible people I’ve ever been around, and I’m always happy to see him.  I enjoy our conversations, our silences, and nearly always have a good time in his company.  I feel safe, considered, and loved.

5.  Knitting.  Having a daily opportunity to create something beautiful, warming, and creative is certainly a gift.

Grateful

For these things I am grateful today:

1.  Emmett.  I was so afraid that parenting would not come naturally to me, but it’s not hard to be a good mama when you have a child who is such a sweet little boy.

2.  Proximity.  Having my parents as neighbors has been so much easier than I feared it might be.  It’s so nice to pop over and see them, have them be part of Emmett’s daily life, and know that they are ok.

3.  Work.  I get to spend 38 hours a week at my dream job, working with the public as well as a group of truly amazing women.

4.  Home.  Jim, Emmett, Franklin, and Luigi, our warm and cozy space, the things I’ve collected over the years.  It’s a nice place to be.

5.  Health.  One of those things that is easy to take for granted until something happens.  Fortunately, I have not been rudely reminded of my mortality this year, but we all certainly know people who have been less fortunate.