I came across something on Twitter recently. A prominent author said that if you are going to tweet something negative about an author’s work, do not @ them. I thought this was a bit silly, but I know for any celebrity any thread can turn into absurdity really fast, and ultimately have nothing to do with the work. So, okay.
But then the author referenced negative reviews in general. She said negative reviews should never be written unless the work is causing real harm. And many prominent authors and critics were in agreement.
I find this troubling. We criticize the work of politicians. We criticize the work of artists. We criticize the work of athletes. We criticize the work of everyday people we work with. As humans we criticize EVERYTHING. Is the criticism always fair? No. But how does it make sense to say negative book reviews should never be written?
I understand if she’s saying as a prominent author, she won’t write something negative about another book because of her status in the publishing world. But I vehemently disagree with the notion that no one should write negative book reviews.
There are people who have very little disposable income who love books. And I know many of them use reviews to determine what to spend their money on. If we live in a world full of 5 star reviews, then there’s no point in writing reviews at all.
I still have my booktube channel, though I haven’t posted in a really long time, and I’ve been completely honest when discussing books I’ve enjoyed and books I’ve hated. Why in the world would an author encourage anything different?
I don’t understand the logic and I will continue to be honest about what I read.
Oh, look at me finishing two books in quick succession.
I’m just going to dive right into the post. SPOILERS AHEAD.
The story follows Sophie. A Haitian girl being raised by her aunt at the age of 12 when her mother sends for her from New York. You follow her to New York to marrying to returning home to the tragedy of her mother’s suicide.
I’ve owned this book a couple of years now and knew absolutely nothing about it. I didn’t know the author. I didn’t know the premise. I didn’t know the themes. The story blew me away from page one. Haiti is arguably the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and you know it immediately. But as soon as you wrap your head around Sophie’s surroundings they completely change as she heads to New York to be reunited with her mother she doesn’t know. She soon realizes how difficult her mother’s life really is. This is important because of the conversations people are having TODAY. So many people in America want to paint immigrants as criminals, worthless, and illegal. But so much more often than not, they’re just like Sophie’s mother. Working multiple jobs and supporting family back home.
But the book isn’t only about being an immigrant and trying to find where we belong. Sophie suffers from bulimia and sex phobia, as it’s described in the book, and her mother suffers from severe mental illness, ultimately leading to her suicide. Sophie seeks help in multiple ways. I’m not going to say I suffer from anything, but I know how it feels to be entirely unhappy with every aspect of life, and to feel like no one is coming through that door to help.
Those are the two things I’ve taken from this book. That we should look at immigrants just as we would anyone else, and that we all have the ability to free ourselves from things we can and cannot control. Sophie begins the story as a struggling girl and ends it as a struggling woman. It’s okay to struggle. And it’s okay to seek help when you need it.
An absolute gem of a book.
I’ve been absent from here, but I’m finally ready to get back to what makes this blog what it is: BOOKS.
I’ve owned this book for a couple of years. I first started it a few months back, and finally got around to finishing it last night. What follows is my review.
So often after mass shootings we hear about “politicizing” the issue. There’s nothing political anout this book, just as there’s really nothing political about combatting gun violence. It would have been easy for this book to delve into the common topics that persist after every shooting, but it did no such thing.
Dave Cullen takes you into the minds and private lives of these two muderers. He chronicles in minute detail the days, weeks, and months leading up to April 20, 1999. He details how these two kids went from fantasizing about murder to committing a massacre. He takes you into the lives of several parties after the killing had finally stopped. Parents, students, educators, law enforcement. No life is the same after such an event, and he makes it crystal clear.
There’s a part near the end of the book in which he describes how “Columbine” had become the name of a mass shooting rather than a high school, but over the years seems to have reverted back to just the name of a high school in Colorado. I’m not sure if a community can ever really love on from something like this, but based on the book this one seems to constantly try.
An phenomenal story about an unspeakable act.
A month ago I lost my grandma.
It would be so easy for me to say the last month has flown by, that it hardly seems like she’s gone. I’d be lying if I said that.
On a personal level I’m feeling better after spending months in a bad place. But I miss my grandma everyday.
I lived with her for nearly 14 years, right? And every time I’d go back home since moving in October (almost weekly) she would light up and ask me how I’ve been doing at my apartment or how work was going. It seems so small, but I MISS THAT.
The reason I’m writing this is because the last month has not flown by. It’s gone by slower than any month of my life. And time going forward isn’t going to fly by. Time doesn’t really fly by after you lose someone until you simply start to forget them. I can’t see myself doing that. I’ll have different experiences as I progress through my own years, but my grandma isn’t someone I’ll forget. Not now or a year from now or a decade from now because never again will I get to call someone grandma.
See the change in title?
But today is nothing to celebrate.
There was another mass shooting in the US yesterday. Unfortunately, it’ll likely be added to the constantly growing list of mass shootings that have all been preventable but still allowed to happen.
When you hear lawmakers say that the US is the only country in the world in which these shootings constantly happen, it’s true. When you hear lawmakers say that the US has a gun violence problem no other country in the world faces, it’s true. After every shooting lawmakers will send their “thoughts and prayers” to the families affected and after every shooting lawmakers will do nothing to prevent the next mass shooting. After every shooting you’ll hear people say that the most recent shooting shouldn’t be politicized.
What’s political about wanting to save innocent lives? Tell me. If you can answer that question, I’m all ears. But you can’t and neither can anyone else. In this country we simply accept that gun violence is the normal we live in. But I say screw that logic and anyone who buys into it.
Think about this: What comes to mind when I say Aurora or Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech or San Bernardino or Orlando or Las Vegas? In this context you know these are all sites of mass shootings. And this is far from an exhaustive list.
The very simple truth is that Americans are obsessed with guns. Not for hunting or for home protection or for any reason besides the need to own them.
Anyone who really knows me has probably heard me say I think cigarettes and alcohol should both be illegal. As “crazy” as it sounds, I stand behind that. Because we have outlawed other drugs that negatively affect people who use them. And guns are no different. They should be illegal for civilians to own. And what happens when I say that? People will just make excuse after excuse about why that’ll never happen. My message to them is simple: You’re right. Civilians will likely never be outlawed from owning guns in this country, but the next mass shooting WILL happen. And more will follow because nothing is being done.
The problem is that people only look at mass shootings and say it isn’t a large enough problem to start making radical changes to gun laws. But gun violence kills tens of thousands of people a year in America, it is so much more than just mass shootings we’re talking about. The problem isn’t solely that guns will likely never be outlawed, but that nothing whatsoever is being done to stop the next shooting.
I’ve written a bit on here over the start of 2018 about my attempt to find some form of happiness. I even wrote more recently about how rough January ended up being. And then I had a lightbulb moment.
I have nothing to be unhappy about. Not a damn thing. Let me tell you what I’ve had going on recently besides my grandma’s death.
In November I earned my first quarterly bonus at work. In December I was recognized as one of the top 8 reps doing my job in my entire office (roughly 100 total). I’m getting my second quarterly bonus on Friday. My 6% pay raise goes into effect April 1. I’m doing very well financially. This isn’t to throw in anyone’s face, but I know so many problems arise from finances. I have a small group of friends who are even better than I’ve given them credit for. I have the ability to travel if I want to or try new things. I don’t have to worry about having food or shelter. And I’m doing my best to finally learn to speak Spanish.
There’s nothing negative in my life. Everyone deals with feeling sad or lonely differently. I know my situation is only my own. But as soon as I stopped feeling sorry for myself I felt better. I don’t dread my days off work. I don’t dread the minute I walk in the door after a workday. And no one should.
Today marks a grand anniversary for me. A year ago today I was able to go to work as an employee for Travelers for the first time. I have lots to say.
I’ve been incredibly open about my struggle to find employment in the months leading up to starting with Travelers. I quit my job at Half Price Books in July, 2016 because I felt like I was settling. Then spent months trying to get a job in law enforcement. Failed. Then spent several more months trying to get ANY job. Got some offers and REJECTED THEM. Why? Because I was holding out for the one I actually wanted. The one I’ve now had for a full year.
Travelers has allowed me to learn and do so much. I finally started investing in my future for the first time with my 401(k). I opened my first brokerage account. I’m giving more to charity than ever before. I’m traveling. I’m helping people every single day I go to work. I’m challenging myself. I was able to buy not one, but two new cars. I moved into my first apartment. I’m not worried about where my next paycheck is coming from. And maybe most important of all, I feel like I know a lot more about insurance than I previously did.
The list could go on forever. I’ve spent the last year of my life employed by a magnificent company. And the time is fast approaching for me to decide where I’m going next. Oh, what a difference a year makes.