Happy Solstice, and whew, I’m done! The latest book is off to bed with the copy editors tucking it in. I’m really glad to be finished – everything should be wrapped up by the end of the month. Taking some time to breathe and try and shake off this lingering flare fug, and enjoy the brilliance of the garden, this gorgeous, temperate (so far) meteorological summer season, and books, books, books.
Punching the Air, by Dr. Yusef Salaam and Ibi Zoboi : The first thing we see, as the novel begins with the birth of this child, is that Amal means hope. The story then picks up with a 16 y.o. Black boy awaiting trial who is then incarcerated after an incident of violence. Amal is waiting for a white boy to wake up and tell the “truth” about what happened, and how he wasn’t the one to hurt him. But, will the boy wake up? And, what is “the truth” to him? How Amal learns to be his own truth and let go of what he can’t control (the world, racism, injustice) and find the meaning of his name within himself is the pure, deep core of the story. The novel in verse form works well for this, because prison has a lot of sameness, and the disjointed blank verse poems often worked to move time and show the chaos and depth of the main character’s emotions. Author Salaaam is a prison reform activist and his role as co-author draws out serious questions around the treatment of Black youth and the harsh limitations of America’s investment in punitive forms of justice for some but not for all. I had delayed picking this one up because I thought I already knew what it was about – no, I didn’t.
To Shape A Dragon’s Breath: I …don’t even know if I can describe this book. Moniquill Blackgoose has written an utterly brilliant YA crossover – for adults – about a “nackie” girl’s first year at an Anglish school after hatching a Dragon’s egg. Anequs is Masquisit, and her tribe is ostensibly under Anglish rule, only… they don’t have anything the Anglish want, so they’re left alone — unlike their neighbors who had coal, and were blown up, so the Anglish could have it without treaties. Yeah, the colonizers be colonizing in this, and it is flat out painful. When Anequs finds the dragon’s egg, and the little dragon imprints on her, she is required to join the Anglish at one of their schools – and it’s like the Canadian and U.S. Indian schools all over again. They try to take her nativeness away from her, as if it’s filth she’s clinging to. It’s exhausting. The Anglish are exhausting. But Anequs is — just determined, incisive, young and scared, true, but her people have named her a woman, and she’s an adult in her own eyes, even if not theirs, and the way she defends herself, takes up for herself and others is really beautiful. This book is going to win ALLLLLL the awards, and I can’t wait for more, the worldbuilding is intense.
A Coup of Tea and Tales from the Magical Tea Shop by Casey Blair: If you don’t know where to start, start with a cup of tea. No, seriously. That’s been the messaging I’ve received from reading so many tea books lately. Tea solves almost everything, if only because it gives you a minute to get your head together. In this case, the person not knowing where to begin is the fourth princess of Istalam, Mireya, who is supposed to be choosing a way to dedicate her life to her subjects — as her sisters and every other royal relative has done before her. Only, Mireya doesn’t know what she wants to do, or how she wants to serve, and she’s afraid to go forward in the bland and meaningless life she’s already led, soooo… she takes Option D, which is the seldom-used royal prerogative to… exile herself. She runs away and hides in a small town right along the border of a major magical mishap, and sets herself up as a tea master in a tea shop. It… does not go quite like she expects, but she does find a place that needs her. She does find a way to serve. She does… need to keep figuring out how to keep her family off her back. This book is a trilogy, and the “Tales” book is a book of vignettes which are the little extras for one’s tea, like milk and sugar, and a bit of cinnamon on top. This series is cozy and lovely and thought-provoking and also another good YA crossover series.
Fresh onto the TBR:
- Witchlings: The Golden Frog Games, Claribel Ortiz
- A Work in Progress, by Jarrett Lerner
- A Girl with a Knife, Alina Rubin
- Working Stiff, Annelise Ryan
Until the next book, 📖
Still A Constant Reader