LGBTQ

Book Review: What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

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What If It's UsWhat If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

With all the hype in the last few years about these authors, I knew I needed to read one of each of their books. I requested a few from the library and got placed in the queue to wait my turn. This was the first novel that showed up, so I get to sample them both at the same time. It was a fantastic read, and I ended up just shy of 4.5 stars hence rounding down to 4 on the ratings charts. Let’s dive into my thoughts…

While the first few chapters drew me in on many levels, I squirmed a lot over the dialog and viability of the scenarios. I live in New York City. I’ve been to this post office many times. I couldn’t visualize it based on how things were laid out. It definitely could happen; however, between the dialog of the characters and this meet-cute scenario, I thought they were mid-20s at first. On the flip side, I’m not in my 20s now, so it’s possible I’m a tad removed from how things currently work in the dating world! What this book ultimately made me do / think after finishing 90% of it was… how in the world do people date in today’s times? These two guys are ~17 in NYC riding subways on their own and going all over the place. In my day (wow, that makes me sound way older than I am) I was a scared little boy who wouldn’t have (a) been allowed to nor (b) felt comfortable doing it. Perhaps that’s more of a comment on me and not the book, but I couldn’t imagine having a conversation with my parents about ‘dick-picks’ from people online. However, in 2018, it’s probably warranted with so much technology and social media in our hands.

My only other concern with the book was the ending. If you prefer not to know, skip this paragraph. If you are okay with small spoilers, keep reading. So… I’m reading along wondering if the book will be a happily-ever-after story or a heart-crushing painful one. I’m definitely more like Arthur minus the Jewish background and desire to attend Yale. I have a free spirit like Ben but I would never show up late nor be friends with an ex the way he was. At 95% in, the book ends with Arthur going back to Georgia for his senior year (was in NYC with parents just for a summer). We don’t know how it ends… but in the epilogue, we do. They go off to college / career separately and have different lives that still intersect. I don’t want to give it all away, but it made me stop and think… isn’t letting go of love hard? I’ve had two prior long-term relationships (5+ years each) end before I met my current partner. Going thru that at 17 (a precocious 17) must be worse.

Yikes, this is a review about a book. Why am I being so personal? I suppose it means the writing, characters, and story were that strong… I connected on many levels. To see how two young guys in high school learn how to date, how not to get mauled on a subway by a bigot, to deal with parents meeting one another, to be out at such a young age… it’s all a challenging and eye-opening experience. I see it with younger friends and family, but to read about it with two kids you just want to hug is a different sort of emotional heart-string tug. I admit I teared up in the end, and Ben’s grand gesture was adorable.

So… I’ll definitely read more from both authors. I recommend this book. Some will find it trite / overdone / simple… but honestly, they just like to complain and have no heart (no offense intended, I respect our differences)… I always look for the wonderful sentiments in a book and enjoy when my boundaries are pushed to think about things differently. Kudos for making it happen here.

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are three books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, and Flower Power Trip (March 2019). I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: An Exaltation of Larks by Suanne Laqueur

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An Exaltation of Larks (Venery, #1)An Exaltation of Larks by Suanne Laqueur

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Under normal circumstances, it’s easy for me to write a review directly after I’ve read a novel. Occasionally, the book is so strong, I need time to think about what I want to say. I only finished Exaltation of Larks, the first in the Venery series by Suanne Laqueur, last night but feel compelled to get some of my thoughts down before I have so many, I can’t organize a review. This book was recommended to me by a very generous blogger who wrote a stellar review of one of my books. Given how much she thought I’d like Laqueur’s work, I accepted the recommendation and got a copy of the book to read. I allotted it as an October read, slightly nervous that it was ~550 pages and I’ve been focusing on other genres lately. After 30 minutes in, I couldn’t stop reading it… and that’s just how it kept on going until I devoured the entire tome in 2 1/2 days.

Do not be fearful of the page count, or that it’s only the first in a series. I haven’t read the others (definitely will this year) but even if you only stopped at the first one, it would be the kind of read you always remember. It goes extremely quickly… I’m a quick reader but I was flipping pages so fast and connecting with the story on a different plane than normal. I’d read 25% before bed the first night and still wanted to keep going despite how late it’d gotten. I finished 50% the next day and then the final 25% before bed last night.

The book was written in a way that I couldn’t help but feel part of it. Between physical and emotional attraction to the main characters, a thirst for something ravenous to happen, a moment or two of crying in pain, and a recognition of things I have and might be missing in my own life, this book kept pushing me to want to climb inside the spine and become one with it. Those are some powerful words, images, and thoughts, but Alex, Val, and Jav are truly the kind of characters I navigate toward. Throw in a dysfunctional set of families, cliffhangers, over-coincidences (which ultimately I love), and a statement about the value of life, I am in awe of Laqueur’s plot and character development to the umpteenth degree.

I’m sure I’ll come back to write more… you don’t need me to describe the plot, just read the summary and you’ll get it. If you’re comfortable with LGBTQ stories, somewhat occasional graphic descriptions of intimacy, and language with multi-cultural references and speech, you will love this book. I bring these things up not as a warning, but as the primary reason this book was so phenomenal. It opens your mind to understanding physical attraction, chemistry, longing, and fear of taking an alternative step in life. It’s about deciding who you are and who you want to be versus what people think you should be or where you’re initially born.

I’m sure there will be more to come in the future, but this is what I’ve got left emotionally to say… just go read it.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

365 Challenge: Day 103 – Tolerant

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Tolerant: showing willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with

tolerant

I do not like the word tolerant. It is clinical. Institutional. Incendiary. It annoys me to accept we need to have a word like tolerant in order to do what should just be the innate and natural thing we all want to do. To have to tell someone or teach someone to be tolerant [of differences] is just an unacceptable truth, as well as one of the areas of life that truly frustrates me. Not because I don’t believe in it, but because there are people in this world who think they are so perfect that any difference is wrong — and that it has become our responsibility to have to educate them to be tolerant.

No, I’m not going to rant on about injustice or inequality. I’m simply making a small statement that while being tolerant is absolutely the right thing to do, it concerns me that we need a word for doing the right thing. I’m not an activist. I am not political. I don’t push my beliefs and thoughts on other people. I just live and breathe each day in the way in which I feel is proper and fair. I’m sure you’ve previously noticed this approach of mine when I’ve posted about being non-judgmental or open-minded. But today, I felt the need to use the word tolerant, as that was the concept being thrown around last night at an event I attended.

A very good friend of mine invited me to the NYC Mayor’s PRIDE month reception at Gracie Mansion last evening. My partner and I eagerly accepted the invitation and explored the wonderful grounds and buildings where our mayor lives. Both the mayor and his wife spoke about how amazing NYC is when it comes to being tolerant and accepting of people’s differences. And then they invited a special guest to the stage: Laverne Cox. For those who don’t know who Laverne is, you can find out more here. As a quick intro, she’s a transgender pioneer who moved from Alabama to NYC where she was able to become who she was inside, as well as a star on the TV show “Orange is the New Black.” She’s also the first Black Transgender Woman to appear on the cover of TIME Magazine. Enough Said.

As I wandered around the party last night, then chatted with friends at dinner, and ultimately when I woke up this morning, this concept of being tolerant has been front and center on my mind. I am not a religious person, but I was raised Catholic and went to church for nearly twenty years. I have little desire (other than to correct wrongs) to get involved in heated political discussions or banter over what’s right and what’s wrong. To me, there’s a simple fact when it comes to… ugh… hate saying it this way… being tolerant of others:

“Your life is none of my business. If you are not hurting me or someone else, you are free to do whatever you want.”

It’s simple. It’s direct. It’s not about religion or hate. It simply means… embrace who you are, do what you want to do and don’t harm others. For anyone to have the audacity to claim otherwise is selfish and uneducated. And to think you can tell someone else what is right or wrong makes no sense. None of us created the concept of life. None of us have the answers or explanations. None of us are inside someone else’s head. We have absolutely no idea what makes another person who they are. Yes, we have science and history and analysis. I believe in all of it. But I also believe that there is something unique to each of us, and that tiny little thing is enough to tell me that I cannot judge another person when I am not that person. What’s right for you is what’s right for you.

We each have our life and own responsibilities and should focus on those things — not whether someone feels more like a man or a woman, or both… loves a man or a woman, or both… wants to change their gender… is more attracted to a certain look about someone else… feels more comfortable using a specific restroom… If I’m gonna use the bathroom… seriously… I’m going in there for ONE PURPOSE… to get it over and done with as quickly as possible… not to engage with anyone else while in there… I will wash my hands and leave… and then it’s out of my mind. I don’t care who else is in there with me. That’s certainly not my first priority. And why would it be anyone else’s?

I really am not ranting. I’m attempting to just be honest and funny. And I’m fairly certain 99% of the people reading this post, i.e. following me, you probably feel the same way. And if you don’t, and I’ve offended you, I certainly didn’t intend to and I accept any consequences. All I can say is that I tolerate your inability to be a more open-minded person and wish you well in your own journey. But for those of us who read this, believe this or preach this… being tolerant, that is, I’m glad to be part of your life.

And so… Happy PRIDE. Happy June. Happy Friday. Happy Everything… because we have one single life that we know of… and I’m not gonna spend it worrying about what other people think or do with their own life. I’ve got better things to do… like read and blog. And make a fool of myself in this 365 Daily Challenge — among other things! Unplanned RANT done. Back to reality. Ah…

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.