Book & Movie Reviews, Reviews

Calling on the Ancestors: A Book Review of The Deep by Rivers Solomon

If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.” —James Baldwin

When I was teen, I read this book called, Like Sisters on the Homefront by Rita Williams-Garcia, and in it, there’s a part that talks about how one member of the main character’s family is entrusted with remembering the ancestral history in it’s entirety. When this person dies, he/she/they must pass on their family’s history to the next generation until it’s time for them to relinquish their role. As I came to the end of The Deep by Rivers Solomon’s book, I was put in mind of this practice of remembering.

As the descendant of American Chattel Slavery, I am many generations removed from my ancestral home. There is no one who can remember who we were or where we came from before my ancestors landed on the shores of Charleston, South Carolina chained up in the hull of a ship. Sadly, there is no one who can really tell us how our forefather and foremothers ended up on those ships to begin with. I am much like the lost mer-people that Solomon’s main character, Yetu, has the task with “reminding” about their history.

For me, reading Solomon’s book feels akin to being taunted. African-Americans have forever been set adrift in the world and the more we try to establish ourselves with traditions and culture, the world steals it from us idea by idea, stitch by stitch, and one collagen shot at a time. Therefore, when I listen to the song Solomon based their book off of by Clipping, and hear Daveed Diggs ask if “y’all remember?,” I find myself growing frustrated because I don’t remember! I’ve hit a road block after a period of time and no amount of Ancestry DNA reports will set me straight.


This song by Clipping. was done as an homage to the Detroit Acid / Techno duo, Drexciya. The band features David Diggs of Broadway Hamilton fame. Clipping has said that they are currently planning to release more music based off of Rivers Solomons’ book in the future.

If you are looking for a short book or love Science Fiction books, PLEASE read this! I would also suggest reading The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark or The Binti Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor.

“Vicissitudes,” Jason deCaires Taylor’s. Grenada, Museo Atlántico.

Likewise, if you are an art aficionado, please checkout Jason deCaires Taylor’s submerged artwork that is entitled, “Vicissitudes.” The work was done in honor of the African slaves that died during the Middle Passage and is eco friendly. Taylor, an Anglo-Guyanese sculptor, work is located in the Museo Atlántico, which is underwater near Grenada.

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April Favorites

This month, I have decided to start doing a monthly favorites post. In this post, I will be paying homage to some of my favorite things, movies, books, etc. that I came across in the stated month.That being said….

My Favorite Book: 
     This month, I got a chance to read Sam Greenlee’s book, The Spook Who Sat By The Door in preparation for completing my final paper for my African-American Literature class. For me, this book was a present surprise. I didn’t expect to like it nearly as much as I did.
     The novel is about Freeman, an African-American revolutionist who is the “token black” within the CIA during the Civil Rights time period. Angered by the oppression of blacks in America, Freeman takes it upon himself to regain power for this racial group by training African-American gang members in Chicago to become a guerrilla army to fight against Whites. Readers get to see just how far, Freeman is willing to go to gain freedom from those he feel have wrongly governed over
blacks for far too long.
     This book was really powerful for me in terms of its message about how different minority cultures wear mask in an attempt to hide their true feelings about certain situations (i.e., questions of class, social treatment, etc.) or to keep themselves from shaking up other people’s perception of certain racial groups. While, I read this book as a part of my course curriculum, I would recommend it for anybody who enjoys a good historical novel or who wants to read a book that is akin to Native Son by Richard Wright or Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. I didn’t write a review on this because I had so many emotions after reading it and was unsure how to put them all into a coherent review that was tasteful and informative opposed to sporadic ranting and philosophical musings…after all I do enough of that in school and this is my “happy place.” If anyone is interested in this book, I would definitely go on ebay and get a copy. The novel itself is sort of hard to get a hold of due to it being banned for a period of time by the American government (LOL it literally brings a whole new meaning to the term “banned” books).

My Favorite Movie:
      I simply LOVE the movie, Silver Linings Playbook. This movie had everything in it, romance, comedy, drama, mental illness topics…In short, it was phenomenal! The main plot follows Pat Solitano who has recently been released from a mental health facility. Pat’s main goal is to reconnect with his estranged wife, Nicki who he feels will fall back in love with him if only she can see just how well he is doing. Unfortunately, his family and friends aren’t giving up any information about Nicki to him and he’s left to fend for himself in winning his ex-wife back. When Pat meets Tiffany, a fellow unstable individual, he hatches a plan to get Nicki back and pick up the pieces of his life.
      What I loved about this movie is that it felt original. It didn’t feel like the characters were transplants from other movies who were just taking on new roles for the sake of drama, everything had a point. I also loved Bradley Cooper (Pat) and Jennifer Lawrence (Tiffany) in this movie. They along with Chris Tucker played their roles flawlessly. Chris Tucker, who played Pat’s best friend from rehab, Danny added the perfect touch of comedy throughout the movie. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who loves a good romantic-comedy. I also want to read the book, which was written by Mathew Quick.

My Favorite Music:
       This month, I committed a rarity for me, I bought a FULL CD from iTunes instead of just individual songs off an album. The CD I bought was Save Rock and Roll by Fall Out Boy. This CD is phenomenal! In total, there are eleven songs on the album with sounds that range from R&B like tracks all the way to rock. I definitely didn’t feel as if the album was one note thanks to the versatility that I saw in the album track list. If I was forced to choose specific songs to play on repeat, I would have to say my absolute favorite songs are “The Phoenix,” “Where Did the Party Go,” The Mighty Fall,” and “Just One Yesterday (feat. Foxes).” Even though the other songs are pure gold too, these four songs are my go-to walking soundtrack for getting to and from school on my early morning commutes.

My Favorite Television Show:
      This one was a bit of a no brainer since, I can’t get enough of watching reality television regardless of how scripted it maybe. Since it’s debut over four seasons ago, I have been in love with Style Networks’ Jerseylicious. This show follows a group of New Jersey hairstylists and make-up artist along with their families. Each season the show centers for the most part around two or more individuals who are at odds with each other and the audience gets to watch the juicy drama that ensues. The show also follows the characters as they go about their daily work lives.
      For the most part, Jerseylicious is tame compared to other reality shows that focus on a set cast. The hairstylists and make-up artist aren’t usually overly violent with the exception of maybe once/twice a season when an actual fist fight breaks out at random. The brunt of the drama takes place in gossip form that mirrors that of petty high schoolers so it is safe for people of all ages however, I would advise some parental control for individuals who are at an impressionable age. Yet, it should be noted that the cast do do good deeds such as, raising money and getting donations for Hurricane Sandy victims throughout New Jersey or putting together a coffee table book of different style icons from New Jersey’s history. If you ever get a chance, I would highly recommend this show especially, for people who were once avid Jersey Shore fans.

Cheers!

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Going To The Edge Of Crazy: A Book Review On "32 Candles" by Ernessa T. Carter

I gave this book a solid 5 stars!!!

Ernessa T. Carter’s book, 32 Candles kept me entertained from start to finish.

Davidia Jones is an outcast at her school and unloved by her mother. Growing up as a dark-skinned African-American girl in her southern Mississippi town, she learns to fold in on herself and become numb to others’ taunts about her skin tone. Add to this the fact that Davidia refuses to speak at all, and it’s a recipe for disaster. However, once she reaches high school, the unthinkable happens……..she falls in love with James Farell, the newly arrived small-town football player and resident rich boy.

While James fails to acknowledge her presence, Davidia takes matters into her own hand and uses her Molly Ringwald-playbook to win James’ love. Unfortunately, James’s sisters have something else in mind and set off to make Davidia’s life hell. Fleeing from her small town after a prank goes too far, Davidia hitchhikes to Los Angeles with a female trucker. Here she changes her name to Davie Jones and becomes a sultry lounge singer. Seventeen years later, James walks back into Davie’s life and this time, she’s ready.

Davidia/Davie’s character is one of those characters that worm their way into the reader’s heart and forces them to become invested in the character’s story. Davidia’s character is well constructed and feels authentic to the reader. Even when she exacts her revenge on the Farell family, the reader has sympathy for her and may even want to help her payback the rich snobs who caused Davidia pain in high school by bullying her.

The author’s pacing for this story helps drive the story’s action. This is helpful in building the story steadily to climax and keeps the reader interested. The storyline also felt well though out and was easy to relate to whether you were popular in high school or an outcast. While the novel does span over a time period of roughly twenty-eight years, the pacing of the story never has the reader feeling the urge to hit fast forward on Davidia’s story.

Carter’s novel is definitely one that I would recommend to anyone who wants a taste of revenge or who just loves a good novel about a girl coming of age in the 80’s. However, I would caution that this book is meant for a mature audience since there are some heated scenes within the novel that may not be appropriate for a younger audience.

Cheers!

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