EVERY DAY by David Levithan

There’s no warning or surprise about the ghostly-being in the story. Readers are instantly informed about the character and what is happening from the start. For me, the surprising part about the character was the fact that no one can tell the gender of them—it wasn’t clear on the fact about them being male or female, but it didn’t matter. The spirit of “A”, or whatever you want to call them, felt natural in a sense. You never can be certain which gender a ghostly-being is, so the safest thing to do is to see them as they are.

Every Day is about a person, or ghostly-being, who wakes up every morning in a different body, living as that person for the day. “A” doesn’t get to choose which gender they can be or what they can look like; however, “A” can in fact control the body of the person that they are in at the moment. It is almost as if “A” has multiple personalities. People who have multiple personalities disorder, or DID (dissociative identity disorder), are characterized as having two or more distinct personalities. When “A” wakes up as a new person, they take on a new identity even though “A” has the same mind—but it’s different for people who have DID because the other identities can take over the mind and body while the individual is stuck inside (like a prisoner).

Hopefully this article will help explain it better:

https://mosaicscience.com/story/my-many-selves-multiple-personalities-dissociative-identity-disorder/

Moreover, every day for “A” was the same. They followed the rules, which were: to never get too attached, to not interfere with the person’s life or risk their safety, and to avoid being noticed—these rules were followed until they met Rhiannon. Imagine what it is like to accept the fact that you are different from everyone else and no one knows that you exist, then you meet someone and you realize that things aren’t fair. You can’t spend time with them the way that you want to and you can’t love them the way that they want you to—you can only just be there, but as someone new every time. “A” broke the rules because they realized that Rhiannon was someone whom they wanted to be with every day—as the same person, day after day without changing.

I think that if people could change who they are or act by becoming a new person, then maybe they could understand other people more. “A” got to experience what it is like to be a different person every day and they were able to see things from a different perspective.

It’s a new dawn

It’s a new day

It’s a new life

For me

And I’m feeling good

⁃ Nina Simone

M O N S T E R— Walter Dean Myers.

This book was hard for me to read and follow at first because it is different from books that I’ve read over the years. The way it is written, in the form of a movie script, is something that I’m not familiar with in a text like this. I expected this book to be written like other books—in a simple, neat form of writing instead of something complex. However, the book flowed once I was able to organize the characters and separate them based on the side of the bench they were on.

In the book, Monster, a young black male (Steve Harmon) is on trail for the murder of an owner of a drugstore and because he is acquaintances with the other suspects, he is automatically assumed to be guilty. However, the truth is that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and since he’s a young black male, he’s guilty in the eyes of the law. I think Myers depiction of stereotypes that young black males, and black men in general, face is done in a deliberate way. Black men are seen as these angry, big vicious beasts with the intent to harm anyone who is near, which isn’t true. It is a stereotype meant to instill fear in others and it causes the person(s), who is being stereotyped, to be excluded as though they’re not human too. The way young black males are portrayed as a stereotype in the book, is the same way they are portrayed in the media—guilty until proven to be innocent.

The system of law was created to serve and protect the citizens; however, this is not the case for everyone. Not only are young black males seen as guilty in the eyes of the law, but Hispanic males are seen as the same—guilty until proven to be innocent. Steve is only 16, yet he is placed in an adult prison instead of in juvenile detention, which wasn’t very surprising to me. Black men lose their voice once they are in the hands of the law, and Steve loses his when he is locked behind his prison cell. Steve’s fate is in the hands of the law and much like other black males, it can only end two ways: a long prison sentence or death.

If the eyes of the law could define the definition of “monster” then I believe it would be: black male. Why? Because black males are reduced to the likes of animals and it fits their description of what society thinks an animal is—big angry, vicious beasts.

A Reading— Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones by Micah Hicks.

The reading of Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones by Micah Hicks was an interesting session to attend. I don’t think that I’ve ever attended a reading session by the actual author of a book, so this experience was new to me. I thought that it was interesting about the characters being based on something that took place during a period of Micah’s life. He said that past experiences were the reason behind the inspiration for this book, and it made sense considering how he went into a VERY lengthy story on some of those experiences. Usually when someone spends a long time getting to the point about something, it makes me lose patience, but hearing Micah talk about his experiences only sparked my interest in the words that he would say next. It was nice to put a voice, his voice, behind the characters and the words, and to visualize how the characters might sound—his Hogboss voice was a little rusty. When he finished the reading, I felt content because I could now put a voice behind the story and it made the story better if that makes sense. It was an even better feeling having a physical copy and getting it signed by him, which completed the reading for me.

Simon vs. The Homo-Sapiens Agenda

This book gave me a heavy sense of déjà vu while reading it, and I figured out why after I finished it—I’ve read it before, but I don’t remember when I read it. But, the book itself was a nice read, and the words flowed like rain droplets running down the side of a windowpane.

Nevertheless, Albertalli’s placement of each character in the book was, if I must say, nicely placed? I don’t know, but the characters each contributed to Simon “coming out” in a way. His group of friends are the typical friends you would find together in high school where everyone hangs out with whomever, and no one really cares that your group of friends have different personalities—bold, goofy, sarcastic, bubbly, loving, snarky, shy, etc. There is no judgment in your cycle of friends because everyone knows about each other; Simon’s friends were obvious as well as his family, but they still accepted him.

Personally, I loved how Albertalli made Simon’s character relatable to readers. I don’t know how many books there are that have main characters who are relatable to readers, but this book can be a primary example of that (especially for the LGBT community). The book doesn’t dwell too much on Simon being gay either, which I appreciated, and it focused more on the fact of how someone who is different is accepted—by peers, family, and strangers. This book can help those individuals who are afraid of being comfortable with themselves and their sexuality, and it can open doors for people to be more accepting of their identities.

The story may focus on Simon and the emails between him and Blue, but it focuses on the people around him too—his friends and family, and his school life. Each character, from Abby to his sister Alice, helped Simon with being comfortable with his sexuality. We see him become intoxicated off of one drink (which was funny by the way), and he has a fun night with a group of college kids. I can admit that this was one of my favorite scenes because we get to see Simon in a different light. He’s no longer held hostage by the pressure of losing his choice to come out; his mind is set free from everything for a short moment. To me, this was where Simon unknowingly fully accepted his sexual identity.

Can we talk about the ending? Like, wow. I was giddy and blushing for Simon even though he isn’t real, but I was happy for him. I don’t understand how Simon didn’t know it was Bram because he mentioned earlier in the text that Bram seemed shy, and awkward (that was a dead give away, Simon!). In the end, I think everything played out how it was suppose to play out. Sometimes things happen in order for something more important to take the center stage.

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen”.—John Wooden

Love is like the wings on a penguin—useless, but not completely so.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, a story balanced between realism and magical realism, is a story that I’ve never encountered before in the hundreds of books that I’ve read so far—I felt like I was ambushed by the way that it was written because it wasn’t something that I was used to. Most books I have read were written in ways that was easy for me to understand the content of the story, and it was easy for me to quickly become absorbed into the literary text. This novel did the complete opposite—it exposed me to the mythical world of realism without giving me a chance to prepare for what was to come.

The author, Leslye Walton, starts the story off from the very beginning—the beginning of Ava’s family tree which I thought was a very witty and brave thing to do for an author. Readers get to see how the story of Ava came to be; however, it’s told in an interesting way—from Ava’s perspective even though she was not born until later in the story. And when Ava is finally born, readers see yet again that something strange has taken place amongst the family—Ava was born with wings and her twin brother, Henry, was born “deaf” and he can foresee the future.

Ava, much like the other women in her family, are all considered strange to everyone around them, and unfortunately, they all suffer from an endless bad luck of love. Her mother, Vivienne, fell in love with her childhood sweetheart who left her after one night of quick passion, which resulted in Ava and her brother Henry. Her grandmother, Emilienne, didn’t have much luck with love either—her past “lovers” betrayed her and her husband died soon after their daughter was born. So, one can only imagine the fate of Ava when it comes to love and being loved. The women in the family, although cheated by love, still hoped to one day see it in their future.

In a sense, Ava’s wings were symbolic—they represent freedom, but freedom is what Ava yearns for. She plunges head first into the life of self-discovery while going through stages of what could be called love, or rather short infatuation. Unfortunately, there’s a price that comes with freedom, however, and Ava is quickly made aware of said price. The price is: her innocence being stolen from her along with her wings. In the end, I think Ava now knew the consequences that came with being from a strange family, and she can look at the world the same way her ancestors looked at it.

“Those we love never truly leave us, Harry. There are things that death cannot touch.” ― Jack Thorne

Pictures combined with words are like two-way mirrors.

Persepolis: The Story of A Childhood isn’t a story that I would voluntarily read on my own. I like comic books, but I don’t read too much of them because it’s a lot going on and I lose interest in them quickly. However, Persepolis can be classified as a novel based on historical events which was focused on true events from a child’s angle. Not only did it shed light on one’s pain and loss, but it shined the light on one’s identity as well.

The author, Marjane Satrapi, shares with readers the struggles and hardships that she encountered during childhood, and the conflict that everyone faced due to the actions of bad politicians. Readers get to see Marji as she grows or “becomes of age”, and how every event that takes place is a stepping stone towards her inner growth. As Marji grows, she experiences things— things that no child her age should experience, which prompts Marji to throw herself head-on into the mix of what’s happening around her. This show of events allows us to see the inner struggle that Marji had to tackle on her own even though there were others her age struggling too.

Persepolis represents the sentimental depths of change in which Marji (and every other child or adult) had to undergo during a time of trouble. Marji is considered a child during these events and childhood is a crucial time for children of Marji’s age. The way a child grows and develops depends on the environment—both internal and external. The environment in which Marji grew up in was no longer an environment that was safe for her development—there were deaths, and people coming and going (friends leaving to safer places). One can imagine how all of these events could alter a child’s viewpoint of the environment around her—it was no longer a “home”.

In the end, readers see Marjane (Marji) bidding farewell to her parents as well as the country she grew up in. In a sense, the ending was Marji’s passage to freedom—a new beginning. Although she “became of age” in her country pretty quickly and experienced things a child should not have, she can now see things a lot differently than others. There’s no wrong way of growth, but there is a wrong in hindering a person’s growth of their inner self.

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” — Viktor Frankl