It’s time for another book review. And how awesome it is that this is my first book review in which my blog is finally public! That’s right. I’ve finally decided to crawl out of my “enclosed space” of private blogging and taking a brave step into the public realm of social media. I don’t know how long I will last out here as I feel like a fish out of water, and that I’m out of my element, and every other kind of euphemism and metaphor that you can think of. But I will do my best!
And I want to give credit to fellow blogger, Salazar, from 14 Shades of Grey, who encouraged me to start my own blog, as well as allow me to hold my book reviews on her blog for a time until I got my own space on the web established. Thanks so much Salazar! I appreciate all of your help and encouragement through this whole process. 🙂
You can check out Salazar’s book review for January here. She holds her reviews on her blog the last Wednesday of each month.
So, getting on to the reviews, I just have one book to present this month, the typical amount for me to have due to my busy lifestyle. The book I have this time around is an autobiography. It’s called The Distance Between Us (Young Readers Edition) by Reyna Grande.
She is a Mexican born woman who came to the US when she was a child, with her father and her older brother and sister. Her story is simply incredible. She had to endure many hardships as a child, such as abandonment, due to both of her parents leaving for America shortly after her birth; leaving her and her siblings behind, poverty, verbal and physical abuse from her father, who was an alcoholic, and the cultural shock of trying to adjust and fit into American life back in the 1980s and 1990s. Her story is heartfelt, painful, and just downright sad to read, especially the part about the abuse from her own father. But it’s also a story of encouragement and hope as you witness Reyna’s tenacious spirit of wanting to build for herself a better life in the US and work her way through school, wanting to become a creative writer and have her stories published.
This is a great book for any person (for both child and adult) to read as it shows that no matter how difficult things may seem in life, it’s never truly the end, unless you give up.
I always feel a bit odd in rating biographies and autobiographies as they are stories about real people rather than made up fiction found in novels. I feel that I have no right to judge someone else’s life, whether good or bad. So for these, I base my ratings on how well it is written. And for The Distance Between Us, I give this a 5 out 5 because it is very well written. Reyna writes her story almost like it is an actual novel that is told in the first person point of view. She has a way of drawing you into her story and makes you feel like you are really there with her; running across the border to make it to US soil or facing her angry father before he strikes her, and more. She brings her story to the reader and I think that that’s a good poignant element for any autobiography, especially one like this.
And please keep in mind that I read the Young Reader’s Edition, which means that it was meant for kids to read. Apparently, she has written a similar book that’s meant for adults that shares the same title as its young reader’s counterpart. I haven’t read that one but I am strongly thinking about it to see how they compare. Ms. Grande has also written and published a novel back in 2006 titled Across A Hundred Mountains that is based on her life. I am thinking of reading that sometime in the near future and then read her adult version of the book that I just finished to compare the similarities and differences between each one. It should make for a nice reading project over the next few months!
Now my next target book will take a slight turn, though it is also an autobiography. It’s called Threading My Prayer Rug by Sabeeha Rehman.
This book was recommended by a newly formed book discussion group that I just joined a few weeks ago. And no, it’s not online. A group of library co-worker friends and I meet at our favorite coffee shop and actually talk about the book that was chosen for that particular meeting. I’ve only been to one so far but I’m looking forward to our next one (date not yet determined) and I’m hoping to have most, if not all of this next book read so that I will be ready to discuss it. And when I finish it, I’ll give you my input on it on the blog as well. Stay tuned!
Finally, I wanted to briefly talk about this graphic novel that I recently started reading. I mentioned it yesterday for my SIA posting. It’s called Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro and it’s a Japanese manga about a melancholic girl who is on a quest to find the witch that has cursed her and must wear black all of the time until it is lifted. It sounds like my kind of story.
I’m still collecting the series as I bought the first book, seen above, back in 2009. I read volume 1 almost right away when I first bought it, but stopped after that. So I’m planning to go back to it and read my way through the entire series to see what happens to “Kuro”, the given name of main character (her real name is kept a mystery, though her given name fits her quite well as the word “kuro” means “black” in Japanese).
Two things that I noticed right away with this series is that all of the pages are black, instead of the usual white paper that books are printed on, again further emphasizing the melancholic tone of both the character and the story to match. I thought that was a really cool idea to play on, especially for a graphic novel.
And the second thing I’ve noticed is that unlike most graphic novels, which are done in all black and white, this series, as well as another series, both written and illustrated by Japanese artist, Satoko Kiyuduki, is done partly in color. It’s a really nice effect and really gives the artwork more life. It’s also a nice break for your eyes to see bits of color throughout the whole story, as it’s spread out through the whole book where whole pages are all in color. It’s very nicely done and one of the many things that I like about Kiyuduki’s work. She also has another series called G.A. Geijutsuka Art Design Class (really long title, right?) which is done in a similar fashion to Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro, in terms of character design and having color pages mixed in with the mostly black and white ones. The only difference is that the pages are on white paper as normal. I plan to read that series as well and will talk more about it later, hopefully.
Well, that’s all for now folks. Hope to see you back here next month and I hope to have some great new books to talk about. Until then, please keep reading!