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Writing through Rose Tinted Glasses

The blog of Rose Summers – A bright-eyed realist who shares her random musings in 500 words or less (most of the time) and/or videos.

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realistic fiction

Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Initial reaction: Long review coming probably sometime tomorrow when I can meditate on my end thoughts on the novel, which are complex and conflicted. This…may not be a book for everyone to read.

This book had me emotionally shaken and vexed on so many levels, that I don’t even know where to begin. *sighs* I will say – to the narrative’s credit – that it’s well written, emotionally raw, and Mary’s experiences come across as very true to life experiences for incarcerated minority youth for much of the book (not all of it, but a good portion). Tiffany Jackson gets the emotional intimacy and connection of characterizations for this book spot on. The tension in this book is so palpable that I found myself caught between putting the book down and picking it back up eager to read what happens in Mary’s overarching case. It’s a dark read and thought provoking in many places. At first I thought that this narrative would be something akin to reading the narrative “Push” by Sapphire, because the tone of the narrative felt like that to start (and interestingly enough, the narrative mentions Mary reading it at one point.) The aforementioned book was a rough read for me on its own but I appreciated it because of the real horrors and story told in that vein. This book doesn’t go in that direction, but the emotional/physical abuse and fear that Mary endures in places is rage inducing and makes you feel for the character.

If you’re sensing a lingering “but” to those notations, you would be hitting the needlepoint spot on. I sincerely want to pretend that ending (and certain events close to the ending) doesn’t exist. While I don’t mind having the rug pulled out from under me in an apt mystery/thriller, this didn’t feel like that kind of story for much of the narrative. At the very least, one would think at this ending “Wait…there’s an emotional mismatch here – that really didn’t fit the rest of the tone of the story. Even if there were multiple unreliable characters here (and there are: fair warning without delving into too many spoilers), it doesn’t make sense to go that direction because the story already had a compelling story in one tone. It reveals a pretty gruesome but notable reality for an underrepresented population.”

At worst? This book does need a TW on several counts: several notations of homophobia (though one could argue that its influenced by the prejudices of the observed characters), body/sexual shaming (see previous notation), rape/complicit accessory rape/statutory rape (oh, I have a soapbox coming on this very subject matter on so. many. levels.), animal cruelty and dismemberment (I had to stop reading for a bit after that scene because I wasn’t expecting it), among other things.

So, yeah, complex emotions. 😦

Full review:

My initial rating upon finishing this book was 4 stars, and looks like I’m going to take it down to 3.5 because…MASSIVE caveats. There are brilliant moments in the narrative that really tugged at my heartstrings. I think the essence of Mary’s story is true to the brutality that many young people of color experience in incarceration, juvenile pregnancy, power and abuse in the correctional system, power and abuse in personal relationships, gaslighting, among other things. It’s true to life on some things, but ultimately not in others, and particularly with the progression up through the ending, this is a mature YA (I question it being YA, but I think teens could still read this and get something out of it) dark horror/thriller.

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Review: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Initial reaction: I enjoyed every moment of this novel because it was an emotional and realistic journey with a strong protagonist whose narrative voice stayed with me long after I finished the story. It’s a difficult read to swallow in places because of the actions of some of the characters, but in the end, I was rooting for Fabiola to find her footing.

Full review:

I have so many emotions upon finishing “American Street” – and that’s a very good thing.

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Review: The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

Quick review for a quick read. As per usual, Ellen Hopkins’ works tend to feel like I’ve ran a sheer emotional gauntlet. The experience leaves me winded in the aftermath (in a good way). How does someone describe the whirlwind that is this novel? It’s hard not to be drawn into it because you get so connected to the emotional journeys of the character within, how complex and complicated they are, and even hoping that – in the end – things turn out the best . I’ll admit I saw the twists in the relationship between these protagonists coming, but even with that the “Aha!” moment felt satisfying to watch as the stories came together.

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Review: Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta

Quick review for a progressive read. It’s hard to describe my reactions to this novel, because, on one hand, this is quite apt to Melina Marchetta’s style of writing – strong characterizations, compelling family-centered stories, and emotional revelations on the topics she touches upon (particularly with respect to race, violence, prejudice, etc.) I enjoyed the journey this novel took me on for the most part, even as it handed down its revelations progressively rather than in one felt swoop like the magnitude of the crime(s) this book centers upon.

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Review: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Quick review for a progressive read. I read this over the course of a week, and it feels like I finished a marathon (in a good way). “Redeeming Love” came as a recommended read to me and it’s my first experience reading Francine Rivers. If there’s something to be said about her writing, Rives really knows her characters, conflicts, and has a way of weaving the narrative to make the most of the emotional gravity contained in the story.

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