BOOK REVIEWS

Reading Challenge Series: April

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Welcome to the eight reading challenge series in which every month I review the book I read in the previous month and then I choose a theme or genre for the rest of the month to help me pick my next book. If this is your first time coming across this challenge series, then I encourage you to join in and either pick the same book that I choose at the end of this article or use the theme/genre to help you find a book that you would prefer reading in the next month.

This reading challenge is all about reading together every month to create a sense of community; that way, we can discover new books together that may or may not always be within our comfort zone. The best part about this challenge series is that you can join in whenever you want!

If you are interested in the reading challenge series from inception, then click HERE, and if you would like to check out the previous month’s reading challenge, then click HERE.

A Map Is Only One Story: Twenty Writers on Immigration, Family, and the Meaning of Home edited by Nicole Chung and Mensah Demary

Description:

“From rediscovering an ancestral village in China to experiencing the realities of American life as a Nigerian, the search for belonging crosses borders and generations. Selected from the archives of Catapult magazine, the essays in A Map Is Only One Story highlight the human side of immigration policies and polarized rhetoric, as twenty writers share provocative personal stories of existing between languages and cultures. Victoria Blanco relates how those with family in both El Paso and Ciudad Juárez experience life on the border. Nina Li Coomes recalls the heroines of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki and what they taught her about her bicultural identity. Nur Nasreen Ibrahim details her grandfather’s crossing of the India-Pakistan border sixty years after Partition. Krystal A. Sital writes of how undocumented status in the United States can impact love and relationships. Porochista Khakpour describes the challenges in writing (and rewriting) Iranian America. Through the power of personal narratives, as told by both emerging and established writers, A Map Is Only One Story offers a new definition of home in the twenty-first century.”

Having chosen this book in March to dedicate to International Women’s Day, which was on the 8th of March, I was not disappointed at all. This book is edited by Nicole Chung and Mensah Demary who put together 20 writers’ work into this one book, focusing on immigration, family, and the meaning of home. Reading the 20 essays from a wide variety of writers, each with their own home, identity and family, made this entire collection wonderful.

I enjoyed how the histories, relationships and emotions captured me each time, as well as seeing how everything impacts our lives. A reviewer on Goodreads, called ‘Allison’, said, “This book achieves so much because it showed me how much I have to learn about countries all over the world, and also I felt myself profoundly relating to the emotions in this book – especially in Kamna Muddagouni’s essay ‘How to Stop Saying Sorry When Things Aren’t Your Fault’.”

The different perspectives is the key piece in this book that made me love it as much as I do, and I would say that the unique part of this book is that some stories were dark and were realistic with their endings, rather than adding in a happy sort of ending to finish it nicely. Another part I enjoyed when reading this book is that I was introduced to a lot of writers I would not have known about otherwise, so I am really satisfied with that.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The next book for April that we will read is called ‘Good Intentions’ by Kasim Ali, though if you would prefer to choose your own book, then your task is to pick a book written by a South Asian author.

Plot:

“If love really is a choice, how do you decide where your loyalties lie? It’s the countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve and Nur is steeling himself to tell his parents that he’s seeing someone. A young British Pakistani man, Nur has spent years omitting details about his personal life to maintain his image as the golden eldest child. And it’s come at a cost. Once, Nur was a restless and insecure college student, struggling to present himself after being transplanted from his hometown with only the vaguest sense of ambition. At a packed house party, he meets Yasmina, a beautiful and self-possessed aspiring journalist. They start a conversation–first awkward, then absorbing–that grabs Nur’s attention like never before. And as their relationship develops, moving from libraries and cramped coffee shops to an apartment they share together, so too does Nur’s self-destruction. He falls deeper into traps of his own making, attempting to please both Yasmina and his family until he no longer has a choice. He must finally be honest and reveal to those who raised him the truth he’s kept hidden: Yasmina is Black, and he loves her. Deftly transporting readers between that first night and the years beyond, Good Intentions exposes with unblinking authenticity the complexities of immigrant families and racial prejudice. It is a crackling, wryly clever depiction of standing on the precipice of adulthood, attempting to piece together who it is you’re meant to be.”