In My Library Tote: New Perspectives

I read for a number of reasons, but one such reason is to expand my worldview. I love opening a book and jumping into a world that is completely unlike my own. It's not necessarily to escape, although from time to time that is appealing, but instead I read primarily to learn. While lately I have been trying to embrace non-fiction, at the end of the day I learn best through story.

Here are five recent reads that have, for better or worse, helped me see the world through a perspective much different from my own.

{recent reads: new perspectives} 

{Hum If You Don't Know the Words by Bianca Marais} Robin is a nine-year-old white girl living in the Apartheid-era in 1970s Johannesburg, South Africa. When her parents are killed during a black student protest, she is sent to live with her aunt. Since her aunt is a flight attendant and cannot be home all the time to take care of Robin, she hires Beauty, a black woman, to care for her. Beauty and Robin bond over the losses they've experienced; Beauty lost her husband and has raised their children on her own, and in addition her daughter went missing the same day Robin's parents died. While caring for Robin, Beauty is on a mission to find her daughter. However, Robin knows that if Beauty succeeds, she will no longer be a part of Robin's life. There was so much to love in this novel. I don't know a lot about apartheid in South Africa, so I appreciated the multiple perspectives showcased in this story. In addition, I think Marais does an excellent job of illustrating the complexity of relationships, especially the one between Robin and Beauty. I love that Robin's perspective is not brushed aside or viewed as inferior because of her age. My rating: 4/5 stars. 

{Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult} Ruth Jefferson has been a labor and delivery nurse for more than 20 years, but for the first time in her career, a couple asks her to stop touching their newborn during a routine check-up. The parents are white supremacists and the hospital complies with their request to remove Ruth, who is black, from the case. She is given direct orders not to touch the baby, but when he goes into cardiac distress and she's the only one in the nursery, she freezes. As a result of her hesitation, she is charged with a serious crime. In true Picoult style, the story is told from multiple perspectives. We hear from Ruth, as well as the white supremacist father, and Kennedy, the white public defender who takes Ruth's case. I read a lot of Jodi Picoult in college, but I got a little burnt out reading her intense, often controversy-centered novels. However, I'm so glad I picked this one up; it was definitely worth the read. I struggled a bit with the ending, but overall I found it to be an emotionally difficult, but excellent, read. My rating: 3.5/5 stars. 

{Dark Matter by Blake Crouch} Jason Dessen is pretty happy with his ordinary life. Sometimes he daydreams about what might have been, had he continued with his research and not become a college physics professor. However, he loves his family and accepts the sacrifices he made for the life he has. However, that very life is called into question when he is knocked unconscious and abducted one day, and he finds himself in a world where he isn't a physics professor, but an award-winning scientist who has just made a universe-altering discovery. This premise and the numerous recommendations I saw for this one made me pick it up, yet I found it to be, quite frankly, annoying. Can a book be annoying? I think I hurt myself from all the eye-rolling I did. I can see why people describe it as a page-turner, but it was not for me. I gave it 2 stars, because I cared enough to finish it, but honestly just barely. (Sorry if you liked this one. I know I'm totally in the minority here!) My rating: 2/5 stars.

{Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi} Effia and Esi are half-sisters born in different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia marries a wealthy Englishman and has no idea that her half-sister Esi is imprisoned literally right below her and will soon be shipped to America and sold into slavery. Homegoing follows Effia's descendents, one generation at a time, and their lives in Ghana, alternating with Esi's descendants across the ocean in America. This novel is different than anything I've ever read before, with its broad scope that spans continents and generations. Each chapter could be turned into a novel in itself, and I often found myself not quite ready to move on to the next. Despite only meeting each one briefly, I felt invested in the characters, which I feel says a lot about Yaa Gyasi's talent as a writer. This was a good one guys! My rating: 4/5 stars.  

{The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh} As I said on Instagram, this one took me out of my reading comfort zone. It's about a town created for criminals and others in need of new identities. The citizens of this town, which is nicknamed "the Blinds", have had their memories partially erased so they don't remember the crimes they committed, and in many cases, much else. I didn't love this one, but it was a unique idea that was skillfully written. My rating: 2.5/5 stars. 

Have you read any good books lately? Anything that gave you a new perspective?

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1 comment:

  1. There are so many books I want to read and end up not getting because I can't seem to settle down long enough to read it. Great list!


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