Another YA novel from Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give.
Thomas creates strong voices for her central teenage characters that rap with swagger and trade in inner-city barbs. Maybe that’s what makes me old, unhip, and a little disengaged.
Although I can’t rave about how I couldn’t put this book down, because I did multiple times; I do know it has appeal for audiences much younger (and cooler) than I .
Bri is a sixteen year-old with a passion for rap. She is startled by her own success in ‘the ring’ where she battles line for line with some of the best rappers from her neighbourhood. The pressure however, is palpable– as she is constantly juxtaposed with her successful father who was on his way to success when he was murdered.
Thomas judiciously covers several plots that help her closely examine race, prejudice, and our deep desire to do the right thing– and to stay true to ourselves despite what looks easy and thrilling.
Bri sums it up in this short snap here:
We can’t have any power, either. I mean, think about it. All these people I’ve never met have way more control over my life than I’ve ever had. If some Crown hadn’t killed my dad, he’d be a big rap star and money wouldn’t be an issue. If some drug dealer hadn’t sold my mom her first hit, she could’ve gotten her degree already and would have a good job. If that cop hadn’t murdered that boy, people wouldn’t have rioted, the daycare wouldn’t have burned down, and the church wouldn’t have let Jay go.
All these folks I’ve never met became gods over my life. Now I gotta take the power back.
And Bri does take the power back with her intelligence, thoughtfulness and skill; she is a wonderfully strong and fully-developed female protagonist. Worth a read if you’re a rap-savvy high-school student!
Knight takes you chronologically from his parents’ suburban home in Oregon as a young shoe dog peddling sneakers from their living room to the pinnacle of his success as the CEO of a multi million dollar international company; and it’s not an easy ride.
As a trained track runner, Knight befriended, and ultimately hired, his college track coach who constantly tinkered with athlete’s shoes looking to get the fastest run. This partnership solidified the view that they would pursue the perfect shoe– at any cost. Indeed, there were more times than not that Nike was abysmally broke than it was successful. With a ragtag group of misfits that he trusted dearly, they worked diligently over decades to sell shoes they believed in.
He writes: “Starting my own business was the only thing that made life’s other risks—marriage, Vegas, alligator wrestling—seem like sure things. But my hope was that when I failed, if I failed, I’d fail quickly, so I’d have enough time, enough years, to implement all the hard-won lessons. I wasn’t much for setting goals, but this goal kept flashing through my mind every day, until it became my internal chant: Fail fast.”
Knight is a skillful storyteller. His writing is descriptive and engaging and his life is full of wisdom, humour and sadness. Knight takes you from the boardrooms of Japan, to the factories in India, and back to Oregon; from the follies of youth; the pain of parenthood and the success of hard work. You will thoroughly enjoy the ride. Just do it.
Title: Feminasty: The Complicated Woman’s Guide to Surviving the Patriarchy Without Drinking Herself To Death
Author: Erin Gibson
Date read: January 20, 2019
Brash, acerbic and a little bit ‘feminasty.’ Expertly mixing social commentary, political satire and off colour jokes— can’t say I didn’t laugh out loud, and I definitely enjoyed it. Will not be everyone’s cup of tea. Mature audiences only.
I have since also found Erin’s podcast, which she co-hosts with Bryan Safi– called “Throwing Shade” where they irreverently and unabashedly discuss: women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, progressive politics and pop culture. Erin does not back down from tough topics nor abide political correctness. However, she does contribute thoughtful and poignant analysis of issues in need of discussion, just as she does in her own book. The voice in her book is so clear and laden with style, I was only reaffirmed to actually hear her speaking aloud in her podcast. Have a listen here: Throwing Shade Podcast
Snappy Passage from Feminasty:
“What the people who are so scared of #MeToo need to realize is the goal isn’t to limit sex or discourage men from doing their men stuff like MMA and long conversations about Paleo diets. #MeToo is about our complaints being heard for the first time and being taken seriously. What some see as the collective anger of a thousand wronged women, I see as the expression of frustration and hurt. #MeToo is about making sure women are not operating out of sheer terror for their own safety. It’s about telling the office clown, Chase, it isn’t cool or normal to send porn GIFs at the end of Slack convos. We’re envisioning a better world, one where Justin Timberlake won’t tweet “Here we come!! And DAMN, my wife is hot! #TIMESUP #whywewearblack,” sloppily mixing male objectification with a hashtag designed to make people aware of lopsided power dynamics. A new world where Justin Timberlake uses the hashtag #timesup and then ALSO feels shame about starring in Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel. A world where Justin Timberlake refuses to do the Super Bowl halftime show WITHOUT Janet jackson. A world where Justin Timberlake is actually funny and not just a guy in a wig making funny faces.” (p.40-41).
If you liked Feminasty, may I also suggest:
Title: Difficult Women
Author: Roxane Gay
Deep, powerful writing about complex, riveting female characters. Roxane Gay’s non fiction writing is powerful and academic (read also: Bad Feminist)— her fiction is compelling and rich.
Spent some more time in Fredrik Backman’s little hockey town in the forest. So many stories and thoughtful messages about family, friendship, community and telling the truth.
Snappy writing that sticks:
“The love a parent feels for a child is strange. There is a starting point to our love for everyone else, but not this person. This one we have always loved, we loved them before they even existed. No matter how well prepared they are, all moms and dads experience a moment of total shock, when the tidal wave of feelings first washes over them, knocking them off their feet.”
“For me, culture is as much about what we encourage as what we actually permit.”
David asked what he meant by that, and Sune replied: “That most people don’t do what we tell them to. They do what we let them get away with.”