Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne

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4stars

“Looking after yourself is the greatest act of kindness you can give the world. Loving yourself first is the best way to spread love.”

Title: Vigilance
Author: Robert Jackson Bennett
Number of pages: 208 (kindle edition)
Good things about this book: Raw and violent and so very likely to happen.
Bad things about this book: I would’ve loved another short chapter to explain a bit the ending, because it left me like whaaat.
Do I recommend it? I do!
Rate: 4/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

“Sometimes you need to put you first and get fit and strong so you can go out and save the world when you’re in the best shape to.”

Another win for Holly Bourne. I kept nodding, she kept raising relatable issues, and I understood. I almost never put my oxygen mask first, then help others. I usually jump into helping others even if it drowns me, even if it brakes me, because I need the people I love happy, and if I can give them my happiness or give them something that’ll make them happy, then I’ll do it, no matter what.

I was afraid there was going to be some forced romance that we didn’t need. The story that needed to be told was not about a girl finding love in the weirdest of places, but about a girl getting the help she needed to get better, to live the life she deserves. And we got that. I felt all the feelings Olive was feeling. I felt the rush when she was hyperactive, I felt the darkness when all seemed lost.

I was angry at her for not wanting to get treated, for thinking she knew best, that she could “cure” herself her own way. If it was that easy, we would all be the happiest all the time. So many factors come to play that can determine wether we develop mental illness, but sometimes it’s just how we are born. There is no logic, no reason behind it, we just are wired differently. Some can cope, some need help. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

The brain is a powerful thing. We need to keep it in shape. For us. If our brain is in shape, we can shape our lives better and we can share our happiness with the people around us, the people that we love.

I always recommend Holly Bourne’s books, and this is no exception. Read it.

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The Whispers by Greg Howard

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4stars

Title: The Whispers
Author: Greg Howard
Number of pages: 256 (kindle edition)
Good things about this book: The story was so sweet and not predictable.
Bad things about this book: I can’t think of any, I enjoyed this little book a lot.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Rate: 4/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Look at me crying all the tears. I know I read this book was for fans of Bridge to Terabithia, and I still was surprised when the book was sad. I should have known better! It was exactly like that time I put on Netflix the movie I Fight Giants, thinking it was a movie about a girl fighting giants, and ended up crying all the tears I had inside me.

This book started with Riley being interviewed by Frank, asking him questions about the day his mother disappeared. I felt both sad and frustrated because Riley wasn’t telling him the whole truth. Why wouldn’t you do it if it helps find your mom? I was shaking my head hard, trying to remember what it meant being 13 and afraid. And you know what? I don’t remember. It’s been 20 years and the only thing that I remember is that of course I didn’t always tell the whole truth to grown ups. But what if the truth would’ve helped find someone I love? I would have told the truth, I’m almost sure of it.

But 13 years old don’t really know the weight of things, not really. They don’t understand how a simple detail that you think unimportant, can change everything. He is young, unexperienced, confused and afraid. Riley has a lot going on for him and I was saddened by his situation. I rooted for him to find the whispers, little fairies from tales his mom told him that could grant wishes in exchange for gifts.

The story is not as simple as it seemed, as I thought it would be. It was frustrating, infuriating, sad, and also hopeful. I didn’t get what I thought I was going to get and I’m happy for it. I read a beautiful and sweet story about a boy trying to understand his place in the world, to understand himself, and to get back the only person he thinks has his back.

The cover made me notice the book, so thank you cover for making me read this unique and heartbreaking story.

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A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

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5stars

“If it’s going to be a world with no time for sentiment, it’s not a world that I want to live in.”

Title: A Single Man
Author: Christopher Isherwood
Number of pages: 152 (paperback edition)
Good things about this book: Raw and true, extremely well written.
Bad things about this book: Nothing, as long as it should’ve been.
Do I recommend it? Yes, and then watch the movie.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

A Single Man may look like a simple book. Well, it isn’t. It’s short, yes, it takes place during one whole day in the life of George, it analyses his struggles, his routine, his suffering. It may look simple, because it’s written simply, but it really isn’t. It’s a deep dive into George’s life as a gay man, grieving for a lost lover, not really living his life, just going with the tide until you can’t go anymore, and everything ends.

I love books that in just a few pages manage to transmit me so much feelings, either of joy or sadness. Relatable and raw. George’s inner thoughts are hard to process because he isn’t really living anymore after the loss of his lover. Each day is a struggle he just lives just because he has to. But he is determined to keep going.

The ending surprised me. I haven’t seen the movie yet, I didn’t know what to expect, and this was an ending I didn’t see coming. Throughout the book I thought what I was going to get, I was convinced I was going to be right, and I was wrong almost every time, right through the ending. Little book surprised me quite a lot. Highly recommended.

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Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram ☆

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5starsplus

“You’re okay,” he murmured.
“No, I’m not.”
“I know.” He rubbed my back up and down. “It’s okay not to be okay.”

Title: Darius the Great Is Not Okay
Author: Adib Khorram
Number of pages: 320 (hardcover edition)
Good things about this book: I loved how calm and sweet this was, so very real!
Bad things about this book: Nothing.
Do I recommend it? Yes, I can’t recommend it enough.
Rate: 5+++/5 (it’s a favourite!)

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

I have never read a more relatable character than Darius. I loved this book with all my little heart. Feelings are overflowing. This is not an excessively sad book, it has sad parts but it’s a hopeful journey, and we get to see it through a very sweet boy’s eyes.

This story filled my heart with a bittersweet joy. I’m so glad I’ve read it. I’m happy, a sort of calm and quiet happiness.

I loved the quiet. Even if it sometimes made me think of sad things. Like whether anyone would miss me if I was dead.

Darius is bullied at school and it made me furious, not only because of the bullies but because of his dad telling him that if he was just more normal he wouldn’t have these kinds of problems. What kind of father tells that to a son? To a bullied son? To a bullied son who has also depression? He has a lot on his plate and he’s trying his best, he doesn’t need a father not being on his side.

Normally, I was thrilled to get pizza – it was pretty much the best dietary indiscretion ever – but I could feel Dad watching me at every bite, flaring his nostrils.

His dad infuriated me because he is exactly like my mother. Ever since I remember my mom has been obsessed with weight. I’m overweight, I have been this way, more or less, since I got my period at 9 years old. Pretty early, I know. Ever since that day I started getting curves and everything I ate stayed there with me. I have been thinner in the past, but it didn’t last, surely because I’m not supposed to be that way. I’m happy with how I am. I do care about my health and take care of myself, but this is my shape and people shouldn’t see that as bad or wrong.

Darius gained weight because of his medication, he really doesn’t have a problem with it. He has a problem with his father having a problem with it. Take that and add that he is going to Iran, her mother’s birth place, for the first time to meet his grandparents and relatives. Everything is overwhelming and different. Luckily, he meets Sohrab, a friend of his grandparents and they immediately click. They are destined to be friends. Great friends!

I liked that I could be silent with Sohrab.
That’s how I knew we really were going to be friends.

I love Darius and Sohrab together; they don’t get along all the time, they had a rough first outing together, but the nice thing about friends is that they can forgive you. Darius really needed someone like Sohrab, and I’m happy he got to meet him and bond with him. It helped him a lot. The subtlety of the LGBT theme was just right; I wasn’t disappointed it wasn’t more present, more told on page, because that’s just another way Darius was dealing with everything that’s been going on in his life. I liked how he just wasn’t ready to tell anyone, not even us, the readers.

Darius’ story was one of growth, family, friendship and understanding that is okay not be okay, but trying their best every single day. I loved this book, the way it built slowly, telling different stories that came together in the end. I loved it. I hope there are more books like this one out there, because as I needed this one, other people might need them in the future. I recommend it with all my heart.

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The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

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3stars

But the past is much less scary than the future, I know what’s already happened; I know how bad it was. I don’t know what’s coming, though.

Title: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe
Author: Lauren James
Good things about this book: It’s set in space, there’s fanfic, fangirling and, I repeat, SPACE.
Bad things about this book: The last chapters felt a little bit random.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Rate: 3/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

When I stumbled upon this title, I was intrigued by the blurb and by the gorgeous cover. It was a sci-fi story set in space. Mysteries and space just make a great combo. I don’t exactly know nor remember what I was expecting to find, I just feel like I didn’t. It was enjoyable, and I read it fast and easily. Some stories aren’t for you, I guess.

I don’t know if I liked the way this book went down. I don’t dislike twists, surprises and sudden changes, but here something just felt off. I liked the pace of the book until I didn’t, not as I used to at the beginning. It was a calm book, with Romy being all by herself on The Infinity being its commander years after the death of her parents. There were things unsaid about the circumstances or their deaths; I liked waiting for the reveal, but the reveal? Wasn’t worth all the trepidation.

The mysterious J, commander of The Eternity, a ship sent to join her in the mission to inhabit Earth II, seemed like an alright guy but the fact that you didn’t know who he was, automatically made him sketchy. Sketchy until proven otherwise. Sometimes too much info is not good, but other times not enough info is also not good. I feel like knowing more about Romy, about the years she spent by herself, would’ve helped me connecting more with her. She did seem like a lonely girl, I just needed to empathize with her situation; I didn’t, I found her sometimes annoying. And her situation didn’t excuse her for how she sometimes behaved.

It was a solid 3.5 stars read (3 here because there are still no half stars). I don’t regret picking up this book and I will recommend it. I want to hear someone else’s pov and see if I missed something. I won’t give up on this author because the writing was very nice. I didn’t hate it, I just didn’t love it either. And I thought I was going to love it.

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Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

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5stars

“Anger is a gift. Remember that” She stood. “You gotta grasp on to it, hold it tight and use it as ammunition. You use that anger to get things done instead of just stewing in it.”

Title: Anger is a Gift
Author: Mark Oshiro
Number of pages: 463 (hardcover edition)
Good things about this book: This is such a powerful book exquisitely written.
Bad things about this book: Nothing. It has a side effect, though. It makes you furious.
Do I recommend it? Yes, to the world!
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

“We are angry. We are mourning. We are tired.”

I’m crushed, overwhelmed, filled with rage. This book is powerful, so true, and infuriating. It makes you feel powerless, a standby in a world you are told you should just accept, never fight, because it doesn’t have your back. To feel afraid to just go out to buy an apple, to run free on the street, to love, to just live, because there’s always going to be someone who will accuse you of being suspicious, thug looking, not a good person, and the world is not going to believe your innocence. Your skin is not light enough for you to be a good guy, it’s your fault you looked armed, the way you dress is gangster looking = YOU ARE WRONG, YOU ARE GUILTY, YOU ARE INFERIOR THAN ME. It’s tiring, this needs to stop!

I can’t begin to explain the rage I feel. I can’t begin to understand the rage the victims of police assaults might feel. The nerve of some people. Why are we living in a world that allows this? When is it going to stop? I can’t help shaking my head in disbelief, this reality sucks and the world is absurdly unreasonable. Stupid and ignorant people should become extinct and soon. This world needs a reset and a virus cleanse.

“It’s like they can’t avoid it,” said Kaisha. “We were literally there to protest against them using deadly force, so they responded with…deadly force. Incredible.”

I can’t give a personal opinion, because I am a Latina living in Italy and my skin is light enough to pass as white. The little town we moved to when I was 12 gave us a home, support, and friends. I don’t know the hate and intolerance Moss and his peers have to face every day of their lives. I don’t know how it is to feel unwanted in your own community because of the color of your skin, to be categorized as a bad seed with just a glance. The amount of racism I have faced in my life is merely a drop compare to the ocean Moss and his community faced in this powerful book.

The queer touch of the narration gave the book more power. Moss is a gay black boy, and his friends are all part of the lgbtqia+ community. It’s natural and calm the sensation you feel when he deals with his sexuality; he is out to everyone and, as much as it feels weird because he hasn’t done it before, he isn’t afraid to kiss another boy or hold hands with him in public. It’s refreshing because it’s part of their everyday lives. It’s part of who they all are and, yes, they all have different family situations, but they are all accepted and supported. The love they all have from their families, the love Moss has from his mother, is heartwarming. That’s the truest of loves, pure and simple. The love Wanda has for Moss transcends everything, IS everything.

“Moss wears his heart on his sleeve,” she said. “It’s one of his best features.”

Moss is one of the most adorable characters I have encounter in the few years I’ve been reading books. He suffers from panic attacks, sees a therapist, is trying to get better, to cope, to be happy. He has faced too many obstacles in his short life. He has seen too much death in such a short amount of time. Tragedy shouldn’t have to be his bread and butter. This boy deserves all the happiness he was deprived of. I just want him to be happy.

There’s no more left to be said. A lot of things happen in this book. A lot that will make you think, some more that will make angry, and quite a few that will make you cry. I cried a lot, from rage, frustration, and sadness. I still feel like crying. I was expecting this book to impact me, but I didn’t expect it to wreck me, break me to pieces. I think everyone should read this book, it’s written beautifully and it’s as brutal as it should be. Life is brutal, and we should stop being blind about it!

“You might be surprised at how unwilling people are to turn a critical eye on themselves.”

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A Tiny Piece of Something Greater by Jude Sierra

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5stars

“You are a normal person. We all are. We all have brains that work differently, that’s all. You guys have been handed challenges. But you are worthy of happiness and health and help.”

Title: A Tiny Piece of Something Greater
Author: Jude Sierra
Number of pages: 258 (paperback edition)
Good things about this book: It’s a very sweet book with a good portrayal of mental illness.
Bad things about this book: It’s hard to read. Read the trigger warnings first.
Do I recommend it? Yes, of course. It’s a story to be read by everyone.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Pretty intense. Read with an aching but hopeful heart. I cared for these characters and, even if I won’t know what choices they decide to make, I will know in my heart that they’ll be okay and living day after day. Together.

Books about mental illnesses are always very hard for me to read. Books like this are somewhat triggering but I can’t help but read them; I feel the need to know other point of views, to learn more, to be able to help myself and others with new information. It won’t ever be easy for me reading about someone struggling to keep themselves afloat. It won’t ever be easy for me reading about someone using unhealthy behavior.

He tries to give his body over to the sounds of a great big earth around him, understanding that he is very small, a tiny piece of something greater, a small glimmer of either light or darkness, depending on his choices and will.

Reid suffers from an illness called cyclothymia that I have never heard of before. It was hard to read how he struggled in the past, is struggling with recovery in the present, and will struggle with it for the rest of his life. Reid is a magnificent boy who has a brain that works in a very peculiar way and it makes his life very difficult. He really tries his best. Reid touched my heart with his personality and the way he wants to be seen by the world, and by the amazing and handsome boy he starts crushing on, Joaquim.

Joaquim finds himself in it too deep and too soon with Reid. Reid is not an easy person to be with, but it won’t be a mental illness the cause for him to walk away from someone he can see himself building something concrete with. Why would he run away when things get difficult? He asks a lot of questions and is destined to make mistakes, but he is a very patient boy and his feelings are deep and real. He can’t run from them.

Reid doesn’t pray, but sometimes he likes to think that the energy he and the others put out into the world might make a small difference.

The portrayal of mental illness is done in detail, wonderfully, and painfully. Nothing graphic, nothing just to give us some drama. Things aren’t okay, and they’re explained in a way that you understand both how Reid is feeling and how Joaquim is elaborating the info he’s getting. It’s a painful process, but it’s liberating. Joaquim is seeing Reid for who he is; he is not his mental illness, he is a boy fighting to get better, who wants an adventurous life and to love and be loved. Reid and Joaquim were sweet and cheesy and adorable. All the kisses, the hugs, the little touches, they were all elements that made their love story, one to desire. I will never be loved like that and it makes me sad.

When I finished the book last night, I closed it and realized I wasn’t in the mood for anything else; I was left empty yet full, no space for anything more. I went to bed and waited to fall asleep recalling one of my many happy made-up scenarios, because I knew that if I started thinking about the book, I’ll stayed awake analyzing every single aspect of my life. I hope I’m not the only one that uses made-up fantasies to fall asleep in order to avoid falling into the endless stream of anxious thoughts about life.

I keep sighing thinking about Reid and Joaquim. Those boys stole my heart. I’m so glad I somehow found this little book and impulsively bought it. I knew my impulsiveness had more pros than cons!

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