I need to believe in the possibility of real change. People are reading books and having discussions that would have been unlikely months ago, and Just Us provides a framework for both reflection and those discussions. Rankine brilliantly examines personal interactions, microaggressions, comments between friends, the question of whether friendships can really exist across racial lines, our choice of hair color, what violence really looks like, and so much more. Rankine gives us work to do, personal, public, soul-wrenching work, but reading this book - part memoir, part essays, all poetry - illuminates a path toward honesty and real affirmation. It is an unpaved, thorny, messy, painful, and uncomfortable path, but it is the only way forward.
Political intrigue steeped in a world of magic and myth -- sound familiar? Oceans away! Roanhoarse has gifted us with an epic fantasy inspired by the someties beautiful, sometimes terrifying pre-Colombian cultures of the Americas. Here there be islands ruled by women alone, whose Mother is the sea and whose shapes and Song some call monstrous (until they need them). There is a god-man, scarred and blinded as a child, and destined to loneliness and revenge by the generational trauma suffered by his people. There are priests, rulers, poverty, and class alongside Crows that carry riders they choose and Water Bugs large enough to pull barges. Some have said this belongs next to George R.R. Martin; I say Roanhorse, Marlon James, and N.K. Jemisin are the pages of his nightmares.
Women unbent by the powers that wish them docile and meek have been deemed witches wherever that power is threatened. The Crone, the Maiden, and the Mother are just myths, fairy tales like the rumors and stories that fill children's rhymes and songs... or are they? Self-preservation drove the two eldest Eastwood sisters away from home and their younger sister years ago, but little Juniper is all grown up now, and her anger seeds a revolution of women tired of oppression. This is a story of painful choices, a story of what we are willing to pay for our freedom and the freedom of those we love; it is about guilt and forgiveness. But mostly it is about strength and the misty places from which it comes. This book, a pinch of cinnamon, and fresh twig of basil will make all the strong women on your holiday list quite content!
Walk in the shoes of the Vignes sisters, Stella and Desiree, from the 1950s to the 1990s, from the Deep South to California and New York. Struggle with their experiences and choices, and understand in the deepest sense that only fine fiction can afford how those choices affected not only their own lives but the lives of their two daughters, their families, and their friends. Bennett paints every character with such brilliance, such truth, that even when you exclaim aloud, "No! Don't do that!" you understand the societal forces and desperate humanness that compels the decision despite its cost. But, ultimately, this is a story of redemption for those who find their value despite the world's attempt to dehumanize them, and with their own redemption, they offer forgiveness to those who cannot find their way.
From the stories of Skywoman and Even, indigenous and western ideas of humans' relationship with plants and animals have been diametrically opposed. The culture of consumerism and dominance, however, has failed, and this book weaves together stories, gratitude, science, and love to show us a path forward. It is a book not just of knowing but of doing. You will want to braid sweetgrass, carry salamanders over roads, plant the three sisters, weave a basket, plant an old-growth forest (I know, but read the book). Here are recipes that teach us how to show gratitude and respect the people, human and not. I wonder what might happen if each of our days began with at least a piece of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, a gift they willingly share with the world. So beautifully written your heart will ache with the longing to, through acts of reciprocity, live as if our children's futures matter, "to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it."