The Women of Brewster Place: A Novel in Seven Stories by Gloria Naylor Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Penguin Books Length: 192 Pages Format: Audiobook Release Date: June 2, 1982
I read this book through Audible in one sitting. I was thoroughly captivated with the lives of the women residing in Brewster Place, since they represent a microcosm of society: a matriarch providing space and a helping hand when needed; a young revolutionary at odds with her mother’s definition of the true meaning of social justice; a young same-sex couple starting over after countless experiences of discrimination. Gloria Naylor writes an unflinching account of women surviving extremely emotional situations. Brewster Place has a group of women thriving despite the difficult circumstances they have. They turn to each other when moments become extremely difficult, a community of women turning to one another despite their hardships.
The Women of Brewster Place was a wonderful television special years ago. I recall watching the program admiring this strong group of women turning to each other when faced with violence and discrimination. The neighborhood that Brewster Place is situated in can be placed in many big cities throughout the country. There is always a community living in difficult financial standing, yet their community stays united, working to build a better life within the neighborhood. The Women of Brewster Place continues to hold as a powerful story about women surviving extreme difficulties while staying together.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng Length: 338 pages Publisher: Penguin Press Genre: Contemporary Format: Hardcover (borrowed from library) Release Date: September 12, 2017
Synopsis: In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.
Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.
My Thoughts: Although the setting in Little Fires Everywhere is at a suburban community, this story covers hard hitting issues that effects everyone regardless of the environment one lives in. Many has the mindset of promoting diversity and acceptance in their neighborhoods, yet the fear of nonconformity can stifle the best of intentions.
There were many parts in Little Fires Everywhere that were very eye-opening, especially when the custody battle scenes came into the forefront. The overall theme that rang clear throughout the proceedings and the conflicts that ran deep within the neighborhood was what defined a stable home environment: the unyielding power of a mother’s love, or the connection of the family altogether?
The coming-of-age story lines among Pearl and the Richardson children were also rich with emotion. Pearl is new to the Shaker Heights community, and she’s accepted into a group that exemplifies everything that meant ‘acceptance’: children with the ‘best’ looks, wardrobe, and mannerisms that would help get by in high school life. It’s only after Pearl becomes deeply involved with these childrens’ lives that she sees how loyalty can impact one’s well being. The impact on loyalty runs the risk of treading shaky ground, as it was reflected in Mia Warren and Elena Richardson’s actions. Each woman made a choice out of the best of intentions, and resulted in consequences that threatened to impact many in the long run.
Little Fires Everywhere is such a powerful story that reflects the current times of a community learning to understand each other’s differences. I highly recommend it!
For the month of June, I’m going to continue reading Asian themed novels. I received two new books as I was taking on the Asian , and just never got to them in time! My reading pace is just THAT slow, lol!
These are the books I’m planning on reading during June. I may add on as the month progresses:
Synopsis: People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.
is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed
forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death,
assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the
sultan. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would
be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish
him in the most brutal of ways. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the
kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.
War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.
Synopsis: Drawn by a fascination with Egypt’s rich history and culture, Peter Hessler moved with his wife and twin daughters to Cairo in 2011. He wanted to learn Arabic, explore Cairo’s neighborhoods, and visit the legendary archaeological digs of Upper Egypt. After his years of covering China for The New Yorker, friends warned him Egypt would be a much quieter place. But not long before he arrived, the Egyptian Arab Spring had begun, and now the country was in chaos.
In the midst of the revolution, Hessler often traveled to digs at Amarna and Abydos, where locals live beside the tombs of kings and courtiers, a landscape that they call simply al-Madfuna “the Buried.” He and his wife set out to master Arabic, striking up a friendship with their instructor, a cynical political sophisticate. They also befriended Peter’s translator, a gay man struggling to find happiness in Egypt’s homophobic culture. A different kind of friendship was formed with the neighborhood garbage collector, an illiterate but highly perceptive man named Sayyid, whose access to the trash of Cairo would be its own kind of archaeological excavation. Hessler also met a family of Chinese small-business owners in the lingerie trade; their view of the country proved a bracing counterpoint to the West’s conventional wisdom.
Synopsis: In their remote mountain village, Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. For the Akha people, ensconced in ritual and routine, life goes on as it has for generations—until a stranger appears at the village gate in a jeep, the first automobile any of the villagers has ever seen.
The stranger’s arrival marks the first entrance of the modern world in the lives of the Akha people. Slowly, Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, begins to reject the customs that shaped her early life. When she has a baby out of wedlock—conceived with a man her parents consider a bad match—she rejects the tradition that would compel her to give the child over to be killed, and instead leaves her, wrapped in a blanket with a tea cake tucked in its folds, near an orphanage in a nearby city.
As Li-yan comes into herself, leaving her insular village for an education, a business, and city life, her daughter, Haley, is raised in California by loving adoptive parents. Despite her privileged childhood, Haley wonders about her origins, and across the ocean Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. Over the course of years, each searches for meaning in the study of Pu’er, the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for centuries.