The Color Purple – A Reflection

The Color PurpleThe Color Purple by Alice Walker is rated 4 stars because it is a moving and beautiful story which feels authentic.

First, a Review

It’s hard to review a book which is considered a modern classic and is loved by so many. It feels like most anything that could be said about the book has already been said and either you will read it or you will not. But I will attempt to say a few things about this book that will hopefully sway those that have not red it to consider reading it.

I had avoided reading this book for quite awhile because I knew it dealt with tough subjects and I am not always in a place to deal with such things in the books I’m reading. But a friend who I trust on these sorts of things said while the book did deal with tough subjects, it wasn’t done in such a way as to be emotionally challenging to deal with. Thus, I gave it a chance (I suggested we read it for my book club), and I’m very glad I did. While horrible things happen to Celie (see trigger warning for more details), because this book is written as letters, these things are mentioned as mere facts. While they impact Celie, she takes it for granted that it’s just the way things are and doesn’t say much else about them. If you are worried about this book being emotionally draining, don’t. It’s an uplifting story.

The matter of fact way these horrible thing are discussed makes them more powerful. The sense that this is just the way things are brings to light how bad it really is without having to say that. These things are not uncommon and that makes them all the more atrocious. Even though they are common, the books shows how different women respond to them, which is also incredibly powerful. While these women see these things as the way things are, they also do not all choose to respond to them equally and this variance is a kind of power over these forces they do not fully control. This also makes it an uplifting story.

Celie’s letters are written with spelling and grammatical errors and more like spoken speech than formal letter writing. This makes it a bit harder to get into the story as one has to navigate the unique language of the book. But it is incredibly powerful in this book as it shows so much of who Celie is. In general, I am not a fan of novels written through letters, with a few exceptions, and this is one of them. Again, it works really well for this book as it shows the core of who Celie is in a straightforward way which feels more authentic to her voice than a novelization would have felt. Overall, this is a book I highly recommend and if you, like me, have reservations about this book due to its subject matter and/ or its style, I myself felt these reservations were unwarranted.

Now, a Reflection

Note, there are spoilers in this reflection. The entire reflection is a spoiler, so there are no markers indicating parts one can read and avoid spoilers.

In my book club, we discussed Celie’s and Shug’s relationship and several of the members expressed how frustrating it was when Shug left Celie. Some also expressed confusion at why Celie was so accepting of how their relationship played out. Besides the fact that Celie was the kind of person who mostly accepted things they way they were, this relationship felt incredibly authentic to me and it is something I wished I had read when I was in high school. At that time in my life, I myself was in a similar relationship and I would have benefited greatly from seeing an example of the kind of relationship I was in. My best friend and I moved beyond friendship to lovers, yet, it was complicated by the fact that neither of us was entirely sure of our sexuality. We both at various points dating men and neither of us saw it as a violation of our relationship. We weren’t polyamorous; we didn’t know what that was. We wouldn’t have tolerated one of us dating another woman. But there was this expectation that we would date men. We didn’t discuss this in detail and all I can say is that she was supportive of me dating men. For me, I didn’t really consider the possibility of us having an exclusive relationship. I didn’t really cross my mind. In retrospect, I think this is because society expects women to date men, whether we are interested in doing so or not. Women aren’t freely given a lot of agency in their sexual relationships with men and this greatly impacts women’s ability to explore their own sexuality. In my reflection on the book, Carmilla, I discussed how my relationship with this woman was invisible to most people around us, even when we were vocal about it. I believe this played a role in both of us dating men. At no point, did we sit down and say, well, obviously we have to keep dating men; there was no discussion of it at all. One of us went on a date with a man and that was that. We discussed it as friends would, not as lovers open to additional partners or lovers being cheated on. It did not occur to us that there was any other way and I felt that this is how Celie and Shug saw their relationship. In addition, Shug, needed the external validation of men’s attraction to her for her self-esteem. I can relate to this. I spent years dating men because of what I already discussed in how I didn’t think to not date them, but also because I was raised to thrive on sexual attention from males. It took me many years to recognize that while I enjoyed that attention, I did not enjoy dating or having sex with almost all men. I had to get to a place where I was confident enough in who I was as a person to be able to say that I expect relationships with women to be exclusive and that I do not need the sexual attention of men to feel complete. That’s not an easy place to get to and it’s not a place I think Shug was ready to get to anytime soon. While unfortunately I think there are some readers who dismiss their relationship as real because of how it plays out, I saw it as more real because it mirrored my experience. I think if I had read this book back then, I would have thought more carefully about my own sexuality and what I wanted with my best friend turned lover. This type of story matters and I am incredibly grateful to have read it.

Trigger warnings (contains spoilers): sexual abuse, namely incest, detailed not graphically depicted; children born of incest; physical abuse, detailed not graphically depicted; racism and racial slurs

August Reads and an Update – Bookish: Reads

Welcome to August Reads! Overall, I read 7 books, including 2 audiobooks, 2 nonfiction books, 1 ARC, 1 eARC, 4 diverse books, and 2 books written by women. This month, 57% of the books I read were diverse, which is over my 50% goal. For July and August combined, 60% of the books I read were diverse, which I very happy with. Only 29% of the books I read this month were written by women, which is below my desired 50% goal. For July and August combined, 55% of the books I read were written by women, which meets my overall goal of at least 50%. The biggest change this month was not listening to audiobooks. This was due to my dog’s sudden and critical illness and the toll it took on me. It’s also why it took me longer to get through books as there were some days I just didn’t have the energy to read. For an update on Nica’s health, please scroll all the way to the end!

the judgment of richard richter coverThe first book I started and finished in August was the Judgment of Richard Ritcher. This was an interesting change of pace from my normal reads and I am so glad I decided to grab it through the Kindle First program. It’s been a long time since I read an Eastern European/ Russian author and it wasn’t the only book by such an author this month. This was a 4 star read for me, though note that it comes with trigger warnings.

The Power of Habit coverThe next book I finished was a hard one for me to determine what the star rating should be. I ranged from giving it a 2 to a 4 and finally settled on a 3.5. There are parts of The Power of Habit that are really good, but ultimately, there were several flaws, which are common in pop science journalism, that got under my skin as a scientist. But, I was able to take a few useful things away from it, so I decided on a positive star rating. This book was reviewed on Goodreads.

The Shadow of the Wind coverMy next read was also challenging to figure out a star rating. I was so excited to read The Shadow of the Wind and so let down by its sexism and poor finish. Honestly, this book combined with The Power of Habit probably contributed to the reading slump that was excerabated by my dog’s illness. This was not exactly my month for great books. But like The Power of Habit, there were things I enjoyed in The Shadow of the Wind and it made it hard for me to give it a low rating. Again, I was between a 2.5 and 4, but settled on 3.5 stars.

Still Here coverOnto a book I greatly enjoyed reading, even if I barely remember it now. Still Here was a book I couldn’t put down and read in no time at all, but it wasn’t that memorable. Because I enjoyed it so greatly while I read it, it was a 4 star read, but it won’t end up on a favorite list. I do expect to read Vapnyar’s books in the future as I loved the tone of this book. Plus, it was great to have a second Eastern European/ Russian book in one month!

How to Listen to and Understand Great Music coverI finally finished an audiobook I started back in June. It was very long, though it generally kept my interest and I moved through the early sections pretty quickly. Then I took a break and powered through again. How to Listen to and Understand Great Music is definitely an audiobook I would recommend to anyone interested in better understanding orchestral music. This was a 4 star read and I have already stated another audiobook by this author! This was reviewed on Goodreads.

The Circle coverAh, The Circle. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a movie more than the book before, but it happened here. I chose to read this book to meet a reading challenge requirement to read a book that was being turned into a movie this year. This book sounded super interesting and I was really excited going in. Unfortunately, I didn’t much like the main character and the ending was the worst. Oddly enough, those issues were fixed in the movie, which was coauthored by the book author. So, maybe he ended up agreeing with me in the end. This was a 3 star read for me since the plot was interesting. It was reviewed on Goodreads.

Little Gold coverThe last read was Little Gold which was a unique story for me that was hard to get into, but absolutely worth sticking it out. I fell in love with Little Gold (the character) and was satisified with the book, even though the ending was a bit too perfect. This was one of those books that is hard to describe, but I want to push on everyone. I’m not sure it’s a book for everyone, but for that certain reader, it is a wonderful treat.

update-1672349_640Lastly, an update on Nica. Nica (pictured in the profile picture) has been recovering a little more every day from a major surgery which removed a large tumor, her gallbladder, a lymph node, and a small mass. Before surgery, she was suffering from severe adema and would have died without the surgery. Going into surgery, there was a greater than 50% chance that this was liver cancer, which has a median survival time of 2 years. Unforunately, this was a rare presentation of bile duct cancer, which is an aggressive, fast metatsizing cancer. The vet expects her to live 3 to 6 months, though median survival time in the medical literature is 6 months. I will try to keep up with this blog through this challenging time, but I may not go back to doing reflections for awhile. They are simply too much for me in terms of emotional energy and time. As it nears the end for Nica, I will likely take another hiatus. She is my world, my child, and my spirit animal. Losing her will be an incredible blow and I’m simply not sure at this point how it will affect this blog. I will keep you updated as I know more.

What book did you enjoy most in your August reads? Please comment below!

Little Gold – Review: ARC

Little Gold coverLittle Gold by Allie Rogers – 4/ 5 stars

Trigger Warnings: Suicide attempt (not graphically depicted) and sexual assault (not graphically depicted)

Little Gold is a touching, heartfelt story about a little girl called Little Gold who is struggling to navigate a family falling apart and a world which is not accepting of who she is: a tomboy and a lesbian. Her neighbor, Peggy, an older woman, with grandmother like qualities, befriends Little Gold in part to bestow upon her acceptance and information Little Gold would otherwise not have received.

This book was challenging to get into at first. It is heavily British and there are many words which I was not familiar with, though they made sense in context. It is a slow start and it was not entirely clear where the book is going. In fact, I expected the book to go into more depth about the girls who bully Little Gold for dressing like a boy, but that storyline faded away quickly. This is not exactly a coming of age story, particularly around Little Gold’s identity and sexuality. Instead, it is a coming of age story during a family crisis and a significant shift in living standards. It is a story of navigating through the dark.

It is hard for me to describe this book as it is an emotion that carries one through to the end. Somehow, Little Gold grew on me and I felt for her as she watched her family fall apart, helpless to do much of anything. Yet somehow, this is not a book which made me cry; there is always this sense that things will work out.

This book tends to be a bit vague, though the major plot points are resolved. I was a bit disappointed with how well things wrapped up in the end as it was a bit too convenient. But it was so heartwarming, the end didn’t much affect the rating.

I recommend this book to the serious reader; the kind of reader willing to push past a slow beginning to get to an amazing story. This book is not for everyone, but it is an excellent book for the right type of reader.

I received this ebook free from Netgalley and publisher Legend Times Group in exchange for an honest review.

Add to you Goodreads TBR! Little Gold

Considering reading it? Check out a free Kindle preview! Ready to buy? Purchase on Amazon or Book Depository. Please note that Diversifying Perspective is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and Book Depository Affiliates Program, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to free Kindle previews through and This does not impact the selection of books nor the content of reviews.

The Hate U Give – Review: Library

the hate u give coverThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – 5/ 5 stars

This book, The Hate U Give, has forever changed me. It is an incredibly powerful story, yet it is written in straightforward language, making it accessible to anyone. I read this book faster than nearly any other book I’ve read, partly because of this straightforward language and partly because I could not stop reading it. Every time I stopped to do something else, I found my mind coming back to this storyline, trying to process and cope with what had just happened while also trying to figure out what happens next.

It’s description is accurate and lays out the general progression of what will happen next, but it did not capture the intensity of this book. I went into this book knowing that Khalil was going to die and yet, when he was killed early in the book, I found myself crying. It was not the last time I cried either. Starr lives a life no child should be asked to live, balancing race, navigating gang politics, learning now to stay safe, and recovering from tragedy and trauma. Yet, she takes much of it in stride and still lives and enjoys life. She is an amazing narrator and captures the essence of the world around her in a way that transports the reader. She is an objective narrator while also feeling the effects of the world around her. She is raw and poignant and brave. She is the perfect young adult narrator.

The description also does not capture the breadth of this book. The Hate U Give covers many issues around race and racism, but often in a subtle way, which is integrated into the story. It covers cultural differences between white and black people, but in a way in which it does not overly highlight them or shut the reader down. The Hate U Give discusses all of these in a disarming way, allowing the reader to see their own mistakes, self-reflect, and decide if and how they want to make a change. In addition, the book does not over explain concepts, sometimes not explaining them at all and allowing the context to speak for itself. Other times, Starr explains the concepts in a way in which it seems natural conversation. Thomas’s amazing writing style gives the reader the chance to learn and grow without feeling ignorant or racist, which is a true gift.

I need to point out that I am not a typical fan of YA. While I have enjoyed a few YA books, for the most part, there are two things about them that I routinely dislike: love triangles and simplistic, non-descriptive writing. This book lacked both. Yes, there is a romance, but there is no triangle, at least not for Starr. And yes, the writing is straightforward, but it is not dumbed down and even though it is told in the first person, a style I typically do not like, the narrator captures so many details, emotions, connections, understandings, well, just everything. I lived this book, and now it is my proof that both YA books and first person narratives can to better than they typically do when it comes to providing depth.

I loved that Starr’s boyfriend was the role model of healthy relationships, even though the books starts with a moment where he was not the ideal boyfriend. Yet, he is not perfect. He grows and develops and is willing to learn. He makes mistakes, but works through them, and by the end is a great example of not only what a great boyfriend is, but also a great human being. We need more characters like this in books, especially YA books.

I do not know how to do this book justice, even though I so very much want to do it justice. Some reviewers find it more challenging to review a book they do not like, but I struggle with reviewing a book I love. I do not know how to capture the essence of the book, how it conveyed to me its secrets, how it moved me to a whole different place on my journey, how it will stick with me like a memory I actually experienced, or how much I want everyone else to read it. Some books speak to the soul, but that is a deeply intimate conversation which is hard to relay to others, or at least it is for me. This book not only spoke to my soul; it changed it. I can never look at the world the same way again and I am better for it. The hype for this book is not overrated and this is definitely a must read book. It will likely be in my top five reads of the year and has already made my favorite list. I likely will read this again, something I very rarely do, and I will devour everything else Angie Thomas writes. This is an incredible novel on its own, but to then realize that it is a debut speaks volumes to the quality of Thomas’s writing. Read this book; you will not regret it.

Add to Goodreads! The Hate U Give

Considering reading it? Check out a free Kindle preview! Ready to buy? Purchase on Amazon or Book Depository. Please note that Diversifying Perspective is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and Book Depository Affiliates Program, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to free Kindle previews through and This does not impact the selection of books nor the content of reviews.

The Shadow of the Wind – Reflection: Sexism

23682460491_1547feaeed_oPhoto credit: Ad busting: Stop sexism | luckyfotostream | CC 1.0

When I was reading The Shadow of the Wind I found myself getting angry and frustrated with the level of constant sexism. Worse though, I started attributing it to Spanish culture, even though I know this was simply one account of how things might have been in Spanish after the war. I kept flashing back to my time in Spain as a teenager and struggling to navigate a more aggressive sexual culture than what I had experienced in Midwestern America. I was uncomfortable with that experience and the book reminded me of that discomfort. But this time, I was uncomfortable with my discomfort.

When I watched the television show, Mad Men, I was not particularly bothered by the sexism. Yes, it angers me that that’s how it used to be, but I expect to see it during that time period. So why was I unable to chalk up the sexism in The Shadow of the Wind up to the time period? Is racism driving my concern that this type of sexism isn’t simply the time period, but part of a culture.

In the United States, there is a perception that in Latin American cultures, there is an aggressive sexual culture where men after forward and crass about their desires. I have previously dismissed this as likely a racist view of a culture people do not understand. Yet, when I was reading The Shadow of the Wind, I found myself assuming this was more of a cultural issue than a time period issue. I let a stereotype become true because I saw it in one book set in Spain.

I am still sorting out my reaction to the sexism in the book. I dislike sexism and I have no problem with my revulsion to some of the scenes in the book. Yet, I fear I focused too much on it to the point where I missed out enjoying a good book because I was so angry at a culture for treating women that way. I read this book with my perception of the world and was not able to fully put that aside. While I stand by my rating of the book, this is something I need to be more aware of in the future as I come across books with scenes I detest. I give American authors leeway I failed to give a Spanish author and I want to do better in the future.

When reading a book set in another time period, in a culture different from your own, how do you understand the rampant sexism in the book? Is it something to chalk up to a different era or a different culture? Should there be criticism for a book reflecting a reality? When do you let such things go?

The Shadow of the Wind – Review: Library

The Shadow of the Wind coverThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón – 3.5/ 5 stars

When I walked into my library and saw this book on display, I immediately wanted to read it. I took it home and had to convince myself I needed to wait to read it until I finished the book I was currently reading. It’s not often that a book calls to me in such a way that I want to drop everything to start it, but The Shadow of the Wind called to me, which is a bit poetic since the entire premise of the book is that a book called to Daniel and led him down a path of mystery, intrigue, and danger. I wish this book had been as compelling for me as Daniel’s was for him. While I started with really high hopes, those hopes crumbled throughout the book.

In The Shadow of the Wind, a young son of a bookstore owner, Daniel, comes across the book, The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax. Yes, both the actual book and the fictitious book have the same name. Daniel devours the book and then seeks to learn more about the author. What he learns is that there are no other books by Julián Carax left in print because someone has been systematically destroying them. I found this to be an intriguing premise and to a certain extent I was captivated by its slow reveal, but there were several aspects which left me unsatisfied.

The first was how Daniel responded to this information. While the book blurb seems to indicate that Daniel will set out immediately to solve this mystery, actually, he is much more focused on a girl than the book or the story around the author of that book. While there is value in this story line, it drags on for entirely too long. In addition, this is where I stopped having a great affinity for Daniel. Like his father, I was incredibly disappointed with a choice that Daniel makes and honestly, it made much of the rest of the book unbelievable to me. This one action greatly shows who Daniel is and it isn’t a kind of person who would much care about unraveling a mystery, especially at great cost. While I enjoyed the unfolding of the mystery, I struggled to understand why Daniel was a central figure in it or why there was no movement on the mystery for many, many years and pages. My loss of affection for Daniel was a serious blow to the book as I care much more about characters than I do plot and this ended up costing the book a full star.

I also had problems with Daniel’s love interest. Unfortunately, it is challenging for me to say much about my problems without possibly spoiling the book. Suffice it to say that one love interest is better developed and makes much more sense in the context of the book and what the author is trying to accomplish where the other one is annoying instalove with little development and does not fit well within the broader story. Add to the top of that the constant, horrible, unnecessary sexism and it was hard to read much of the plot on the love interest at all. Of course, the sexism was not only towards Daniel’s love interests, but nearly every female character in the book. Yes, I understand that during the time period the book is set in, there was significant sexism and also that there may be differences in cultural views on women, but in the end, much of this commentary was strictly unnecessary and simply detracted from the enjoyment of the book. Again, I care much more about characters than I do about plot and these comments prevented me from having great affinity for nearly any male character in the book.

Since I found myself unable to connect to male characters, I pretty much was unable to connect with any character as nearly all female characters were background characters used to drive the story along. The most depth we get from female characters is from two different women who reveal much of the solution to the mystery. Whether men or women tell these stories, the characters always know significantly more than is possible for them to know. Their stories are told to other characters in the books, but yet they are written as simply another narrator, who is privy to personal thoughts, feelings, and background information of other characters in the story. This was unbelievable as some of these characters did not have the connections necessary to possibly know these things, let alone access to the internal struggles of characters outside themselves. This was a significant detractor from the book. Even Daniel, the main narrator and written from his point of view in the first person, knows things he cannot possibly know and the book is written as though it was in the third person, but since there are endless I’s throughout the book, it was instead written in the first person. I honestly found myself thinking it was written in the third person throughout the book and thinking that it made sense to know this much information, but then I would see the use of I and remember that Daniel cannot possibly know all of this information. This book would have been much more effective if it had been written in the third person, possibly from the point of view of more than one character, but only in the author would have been able to make those points of view distinctive, which I suspect would not have happened since the few moments we get of perspectives from other characters sound just like Daniel.

The final point of disappointment with this book is the ending, which is a little bit too perfect and covers too much ground. It was these last chapters that ruined the story for me as again I found it unbelievable and hard to connect with the characters. I do not understand why there are so many highly positive reviews and endorsements for this book, except for the fact that it is a book about books. As a avid reader, of course am intrigued by books about books, but I also know that it is simply a device to get more readers to read the book, so there better be something substantial to the book. There were several plot points I figured out less than halfway through the book, yet they weren’t revealed until the end of the book. In my opinion, the book was simply too long. Yes, it was incredibly well written and that matters greatly to me, but there needs to be more than simply well written sentences to push a book to a 4 or 5 star rating. There needs to be well developed characters the reader can connect with and this book lacked that for me. Without that, then it falls back on the plot and there was too much time spent on irrelevant plot, not enough time spent on relevant plot (though this is dangerously close to the lack of character development I mentioned before), too many unbelievable elements (not magical realism unbelievable – that was fine – but as discussed above), and too much unnecessary sexism to make this plot enough to carry the book. There are great lines in this book and those lines pushed me to continue the book in hopes that the final plot reveal would make up for the frustrations that worsened throughout the book, but in the end, the ending sealed for me that this was not the book for me. I wanted to love this book, but I simply could not. It was vastly better than Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, which seems to want to be this book, but it was not on par with 4 star books, though it had potential to be. If you are interested in reading a mystery about books and know that is sufficient for you or you really love gothic books, than this is a definite read. If gothic books aren’t really your thing or you prioritize characters over plot, then I would suggest passing on this book, mostly because it is so very long.

Add on Goodreads! The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books,  #1)

Considering reading it? Check out a free Kindle preview! Ready to buy? Purchase on Amazon or Book Depository. Please note that Diversifying Perspective is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and Book Depository Affiliates Program, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to free Kindle previews through and This does not impact the selection of books nor the content of reviews.

Still Here – Review: ARC

Still Here coverStill Here by Lara Vapnyar – 4/ 5 stars

The book blurb seems to imply the book will spend a significant amount of time on the “app designed to preserve a person’s online presence after death” which will “[spur] questions about the changing perception of death and the future of our virtual selves.” But this story isn’t really about the app, nor is does it set out to answer the questions “how do our online personas define us, and what will they say about us when we’re gone?” Instead, the description that is most accurate is that Still Here “follows the intertwined lives of four immigrants as they grapple with love, a new home, and the absurdities of the digital age.” It reminded me of a Seinfeld episode where nothing really happens, yet something does happen, all the while being amusing, with the added bonus of being about Russian immigrants.

This is an amusing tale about four Russian immigrants whose lives intersect in intricate ways, which is made all the more complex by the emerging situations they must confront. This is not a typical immigrant story as all four characters have all been in the United States for some length of time, but they do discuss current and previous struggles with how to fit in in New York City. These struggles to adapt to NYC are partly general identity struggles and ones which come up in a city with vast diversity in terms of income and ethnicity. I found myself relating to their struggles as I myself had struggled to find my place in NYC when I moved there. Still Here is a book about general life struggles and how four friends work on addressing those struggles. The struggles range from motherhood, employment, dating, housing, marriage, money, identity, among other things.Thus this is a story where everyone will have something to relate to.

While it took me awhile to get into Still Here, in the end, I found myself greatly enjoying it and I devoured it over two days. I found the story drew me in, though it is challenging to pinpoint exactly what this book is about or what it was that drew me in. The first four chapters are devoted to each of the four main characters: Vica, Vadik, Sergey, and Regina. While I was reading those chapters, they felt a bit like excessive backstory, but it becomes clear soon after that instead of being excessive, it’s the exact right amount of information needed in order to move the story forward while letting the reader understand the complexity of their relationships and the story unfolding. Their complex interconnectedness is what holds the book together throughout the novel and it is also is the heart of why this is such an intriguing story.

The most significant criticism is that the memory of this book is already failing. The feeling remains, but the details, the specific plot points, almost seemed to fade as soon as I finished the novel. While I greatly enjoyed the book, I struggle now to pinpoint why I enjoyed it or why I won’t remember it. In addition, while I enjoyed the prose, I won’t be running out to read another book by Lara Vapnar. I do hope to read some of her other books, but they will likely get buried on my to-be-read list. Maybe this is partly me; after all, I do not remember most Seinfeld episodes either, though I enjoyed everyone. Plus, it is not as though every book needs to stay with me. Entertainment is sometimes just that and like Seinfeld for me, this entertained, but won’t make a lasting impression.

If you are a reader who greatly prefers books with clear plots that have arches and end up resolved, this may not be the book for you. There are things that happen in the book and it is mostly wrapped up at the end, but the book also ends a bit open-ended while also not having strong plot points which drive the story. Instead, there are philosophical conversations and inner dialogues. There are personal internal struggles and misunderstandings. Much of what happens feels a bit like what happens in their everyday lives, though some of the events are not something which would occur every day. For me, this is what made the story so powerful. While not much happens, one becomes apart of their lives and ends up reflecting on death and social media.

I greatly enjoy books with strong character development and which make me think, especially along the lines of philosophy. This made Still Here a perfect novel for me. While it is less dark than many other novels I have read by Russian authors, it does have some elements of this; there is a decent amount of discussion about death after all. This novel also carries the tradition of philosophical and metaphysical questions which I love in Russian novels. If you also greatly enjoy Russian novels, than this book is for you. It is much more accessible than classical Russian novels and likely has a way of conveying its intended meaning better than them since there is no translator involved. If you enjoy literary fiction, you will also greatly enjoy this as it does an excellent job of transporting the reader through descriptive language. This is a book I would love for everyone to read, but I know there is a group of readers out there that strongly dislike books without strong plot and so I caution those readers before picking up this novel. But outside that, I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading. It’s deep and yet light; it’s literary and yet an easy read; it’s about nothing and yet it is about something. I encourage you to pick this book up as it may be interestingly different from the books you tend to read.

I received this book from Blogging For Books and Hogarth in exchange for an honest review.

Add on Goodreads! Still Here

Considering reading it? Check out a free Kindle preview! Ready to buy? Purchase on Amazon or Book Depository. Please note that Diversifying Perspective is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and Book Depository Affiliates Program, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to free Kindle previews through and This does not impact the selection of books nor the content of reviews.

A Man Called Ove – Reflection: Representation and Diversity

8750275571_5fda61700d_zPhoto credit: The Diversity MaskGeorge A. Spiva Center for the Arts | CC by 2.0

Trigger Warning: Suicide mention

A few years ago, I suddenly and unexpectedly developed a chronic pain condition as a result of a very minor injury. That chronic pain condition had an autoimmune component, which triggered a long list of health-related issues. Within six months of the initial injury, I was no longer able to work. My life was ripped out from underneath me and all of a sudden, everything was different, harder, longer, worse, and I did not know if I could go on. Thoughts of suicide began to creep into my head. At the same time, something else phenomenal happened; I gained an entire community of people willing to give as much of themselves as they could in order to be there for me. After watching the movie, Collateral Beauty, I have been calling it my collateral beauty. I lost a lot, but gained even more.

That’s not to say that it is not hard sometimes to adjust to this new life, which constantly is shifting under my feet. I’ve wanted to see my story, my loss, my pain, my grappling with how to go on in someone else’s story. I have read a few books with the hope of hearing my life echoed in them, but none have resonated. Enter, A Man Called Ove, and my heart sang. Here was my story, for the most part – a person whose early life was filled with tragedy and loss; an introvert who believes in doing right and working hard, finds the one thing that brings sense, structure, calm, and meaning into the world is ripped away from her/ him. But among that loss is so much beauty, it is almost too bright to look at. I needed this story. I needed this story more than I knew and more than I can explain here. Because my soul has been dying and I needed to see that another person’s soul also was dying, but that the light they gained was enough. I needed to feel this in those dark moments when it is just still a tad bit too hard and the pain threatens to swallow me whole.

This is why representation matters. We need to see stories of ourselves and feel just a little less alone. We need to carry in our hearts the knowledge that we are not the only ones. Even in our hyper-connected world, it can be easy to feel alone. Other people on the internet can feel one-dimensional and even people in real life can hold a lot of themselves back. It is the magic of books where we get to see that internal struggle, those darks thoughts, the things we don’t talk about, and feel more whole for having seen we are not alone. Representation in books matters so much exactly because it can show all the sides of what it is to be a flawed, beautiful human.

But this leads to the question of who can write that representation? Does it matter that this story, the one I finally connected with, was written by a straight white Swedish guy? Does that make it less representative? Wouldn’t it have been better if an American disabled lesbian had written the story – someone more like me? I do not have a great answer for those questions. They are questions I have been grappling with for nearly two decades now. What I can say is that, on the whole, it is hard for authors to write outside of their own perspectives. This is not a critique, but a fact of life. We all are stuck in our realities and ways of viewing the world. At best, we can try to overcome them and sometimes succeed. But it is also important to remember that there are some aspects to life that are universal, loss being one of them. Because of that, I could have potentially seen my loss in nearly any story about loss, but this one resonated with me because it captured a few other aspects of myself as well. Which brings me back to the statement that representation matters. The problem with continuing to allow marginalized voices to be marginalized is that all sorts of important representation is not out there for people to connect with, but also, there are all sorts of universal aspects of representation that are not out there either. This means that there are stories we will not read with the potential to connect us and show us that even among our greatest differences, there are commonalities, namely, we are all human. If A Man Called Ove teaches us anything, it is that even the most different people can be connected through a bit of vulnerability and humanity and that connection is what makes life worth living. So yes, this blog will continue to focus on traditionally marginalized voices, and though one could make a case that a Swedish voice is uncommon in American literature and could thus fall under the concept of “traditionally marginalized voices,” it is a bit of a stretch. But from time to time, when extremely compelling, other books which do not strictly fall within traditionally marginalized voices may be reviewed here. After all, ways of diversifying perspectives comes in many forms and I’d rather error on the side of inclusivity over exclusivity. A Man Called Ove impacted my perspective, so for now, it is on this blog. Plus, it serves as a great launching point of discussion for what makes a book diverse.

What do you think? How do you feel about representation that comes from a person of a traditional majority group? What does representation mean to you? Is a perspective outside your country of origin diverse enough, or does it need to be outside a larger culture (for example, non-American versus non-Western)? Share your thoughts below!

A Man Called Ove – Review: Own

a man called ove cover.jpgA Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman – 4 / 5 stars

I’ve struggled to figure out what to say about this book. I’m a bit late to reading it, so it feels as though there is not much I can contribute beyond what has already been said. This is an honest, raw, incredibly well-written book that will touch you deeply and sneak inside your heart. The description does not do it justice, but it’s nearly impossible to put into words what transpires throughout this book. I will do no better than the official description, but will try anyway.

In some ways, this is a story about a grumpy old man and why he is grumpy. But it is more than that. This book does not preach or harp about how we all have reasons for the way we are, though the human connection of sadness, loss, and challenges is part of what makes this book so amazing. But it would not be a great story if it was outspoken about it; its beauty comes in its subtlety, the way it slowly builds to this deep, rich, and full life picture of a grumpy old man. Yet, that is not the full picture of this story. It is also about how much impact we have on those around us without even knowing it. It is story on the powers of community contrasted with the desire for control. There are many layers here and it goes far beyond a grumpy old man having to deal with new neighbors. In the end, it teaches us all a little bit about accepting everyone around us and accepting all the beauties life has to offer.

This story is very touching, but also a little bit too perfect. The book is initially a bit challenging to get into because there is so much grumpiness and so little understanding of all the characters involved. The writing style is perfect, but there’s use of language that is a bit unsettling. This is a moving and touching story, but not one that changed my life or I will carry deep in me for eternity. For these reasons, it is not a 5 star, favorite book rating. But it is a book I highly recommend to everyone. I doubt there is any type of reader who will not like this book. So stop waiting to read it and pick it up today!

Add it on Goodreads! A Man Called Ove

Considering reading it? Check out a free Kindle preview! Purchase on Amazon or Book Depository. Please note that Diversifying Perspective is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and Book Depository Affiliates Program, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to free Kindle previews through and This does not impact the selection of books nor the content of reviews.

The Hour of Daydreams – Review: ARC

the hour of daydreamsThe Hour of Daydreams by Renee Macalino Rutledge – 4/ 5 stars

I wouldn’t call magical realism my genre, but I also wouldn’t say I dislike it. I’ve read a few books with magical realism and some have been good and some have been terrible. When the phrase, magical realism comes up, I hesitate and think, oh I probably won’t like that. When I read the description for The Hour of Daydreams I was intrigued, but hesitated because of the magical aspect of the book. I am so glad I decided to read this book.

I would not characterize this book as magical realism. I would characterize it as lyrical and a story about people who believe in alternate realities. This story did not feel like the magical realism was forced upon it, but rather that these characters live with a beautiful way of understanding the world. I loved how The Hour of Daydreams transported me to this world and showed me how rich it is. I loved feeling the characters grapple with reality versus what they wanted to believe and I felt I understood why these stories arise. For me, this type of story is simply another way of storytelling and I love it.

This is a story of Tala, a woman who none of the characters fully know as she is an outsider to the community. Her husband sees her as a fallen angel while others envision other possibilities as to where she is now. Ultimately, as the story unfolds, we learn that Tala is a woman with a complicated and painful past and the people who love her cope with this knowledge through myths and half truths. These are beautiful myths and half truths, which no one fully believes, but yet they hold power.

The story is beautifully told and unfolds at a solid pace which kept me engaged throughout the book. The point of view changes, but in a seamless way. The ending provided enough resolution to leave me satisfied, but enough uncertainty to make this feel a bit like a fairy tale.

My biggest complaint is that I would have liked more. I wanted to know so much more about everyone, but especially Tala and Manolo. They were incredibly rich characters I wanted to know deep down to their souls. The amount I learned about the characters was satisfying, but I would have been even happier had this book been longer.

Even if you think you do not like magical realism, I recommend this book for you as it is not magical reality so much as the stories we tell ourselves to get through what can often be a cruel life. It is a beautiful book and one fans of literary fiction will enjoy. I encourage everyone to give it a try as it’s likely not like any other book you’ve read before. For me, that was a beautiful gift.

I received this ebook free from Netgalley and publisher Forest Avenue Press in exchange for an honest review.

Add to Goodreads! The Hour of Daydreams

Considering reading it? Check out a free Kindle preview! Ready to buy? Purchase on Amazon or Book Depository. Please note that Diversifying Perspective is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and Book Depository Affiliates Program, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to free Kindle previews through and This does not impact the selection of books nor the content of reviews.