I was looking for a book to read so googled New York Times Best Sellers of 2020 and this book screamed at me. It’s about twins. One disappears. That was all it took to get me interested.
I didn’t enjoy the read. I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style, and the storyline was just ‘meh’ in my humble opinion.
Halfway through, I almost gave up wondering where the hell Stella was. I had to call my friend Faridah (an actual avid book reader and fellow twin) to convince me to keep going. Having uncovered her whereabouts and her entire story, I’m not going to lie, I was underwhelmed.
Now that I’ve expressed all I disliked about the book, I must say that it was refreshing to have so many different stories intertwined and woven back together as one. Chapters weren’t clearly cut into characters perspectives, but somehow, I could keep up and I liked that.
BV Rates: 6/10
Ps: This set is THE most comfortable outfit I own.
Now THIS is my book of the year (I write this with so much confidence but I’m allowed to change my mind… right?).
Let me break down (a few of) my thoughts for you:
Like I mentioned with January’s read Wonder, I love getting into characters’ minds and understanding their thought process. Life is multidimensional isn’t it? So are points of view. So I’m seeing things through the lens of a black nurse with c. 20yrs of experience, a white supremacist genuinely fighting for what he believes is “just” and a middle class lawyer just trying to do her job, all encompassing this one read! It’s not so much that it’s genius, it’s more the fluidity in which she weaves the character perspectives (being that their mind frames exist in alternate universes) that’s what blows my mind.
I’m black. I’ve spent the vast majority of my life living in Nigeria. In Nigeria, the people are black. The citizens are (mostly) black. Racism isn’t a thing- at least not a prejudice I’ve experienced here (I’d be interested in finding out white people’s opinions though). My family is comfortable, I am comfortable. I’ve experienced racism abroad and it’s ugly, so that amongst other things is a reason why I find that I am most comfortable in Nigeria. When someone follows me around the shop here, it’s not because they think I’m going to steal. It’s because they think I’m going to buy every damn thing and leave a tip on top of that! They probably think that my perfectly manicured nails and pampered skin won’t tolerate the stress of having to carry a shopping basket or push a trolley, who knows I might cave under the weight (LOL). When I wear track suit (this is rare by the way) it’s not because I’m “ghetto” and getting ready to make a run for it (what ever it is), it’s because I was lazy and threw on something comfortable. When I read Small Great Things, I got angry on behalf of all the black people abroad that experience racism. No matter where you live, how much you earn or what you’ve accomplished, there will always be those that can’t see past your skin colour the fact that you do not look like them, and this absolutely blows my mind!
This book was written by a white woman. She did research, she wrote a story loaded with empathy, unveiling the workings of the American ‘Justice’ system and head on confronting racism. When I read Ruth’s perspective, I felt like I was Ruth and I understood her decisions. When I read Turk’s perspective, I can’t say I fully understood but at least it provided a glimmer of insight. Maybe I’m a little emotional, but I cried when I read Small Great Things.
Somewhat random, but there’s a paragraph in the book which I quoted on my Instagram Stories because at the time, it was SO relevant to what I was going through. Not as a black person, but as a human being:
“If the past few months have taught me anything, it’s that friendship is a smokescreen. The people you think are solid turn out to be mirrors and lights; and then you look down and realize there are others you took for granted those who are your foundation.”
Which takes me to my final point:
Jodi Picoult’s writing style is beautiful. Her phrases are like a song with deeper meaning. If you rush through, you might be unappreciative of the melodies…. It’ll be like shutting your blinds when the sun is setting instead of taking in the colours, the patience, the beauty. If like me, you then happen to find something that speaks to your situation, well… it’s all over!
BV Rates: 9/10
Ps: When you read JP’s more recent stories, the growth is evident. She’s definitely one of my top authors. I’m not sure I’ll ever turn down the opportunity to read one of her books.
PPs: On that random note about skin, I broke out recently and I’ve now taken on a 5 step beauty regimen which is a bit extra for (and hilarious to) me. I’m really hoping it makes a difference. Should I blog about it? LOL I don’t know I’ll need to put pictures….
Jodi Picoult is my favourite author. Taiwo and Wura raved about her so long that I absolutely HAD to read her books and she never let me down. Well, not until I read Picture Perfect. It started off GREAT. Kind of reminded me of social media- everyone seems to be having a great time, toned bodies, eating great food, living lavish lifestyles, until you peel at the layers and find that a lot of people are lonely or seeking attention/validation, some are simply lost in a journey of self-discovery. I’ve gone off on a tangent. Let me attempt to reel this back in.
Halfway through Picture Perfect, I didn’t think I’d make it. The story line was one of perpetual habitual repetitions and I was getting bored. I made it to the last chapter when a switch finally flipped and reigned it back home.
I expressed my thoughts to Taiwo and discovered that it was one of Jodi P’s early books. Comparing that to her more recent publications, her growth has been multi-dimensional. I’ll delve a bit more into her writing style with next month’s read. Get excited! LOL
BV Rates: 5.5/10
Ps: Eid Mubarak to my Muslim Brothers and Sisters out there.
PPs: Trying a new text setting where I show a large initial letter… I think I like it…
I think I finished reading this book in two weekends. (It’s a real struggle to read during the weekdays because I have to balance reading with work and I’m not great at balancing. I try, but it’s not often that I get very far.) The entire time I was reading Queenie, I was pissed! I (used to) judge people that make(/made) bad decisions and Queenie exercised very limited self-control and self-awareness (I found myself screaming at her with every chapter)! Accordingly, she was subject to my full wrath and resolute judgement. I’m unapologetic.
The writing style wasn’t particularly memorable, but on the bright side I loved the use of (black British) slang and the insight into that stereotypical world. [Most? Some?] black people abroad get caught up in this balancing act of staying true to their culture yet fitting in. I don’t know about you guys, but at some point, I faked the British accent, laughed when I was supposed to, did all I had to, just so I would NOT stand stick out. Eventually, I realized that it was a waste of time. Who was I trying to impress and for God’s sake WHY?! was I even trying to impress these strangers?
Queenie gives you a good idea of how tedious it is to be totally lost in a cultural mishmash!
Would I recommend this read? Probably not. But if you happened to pick it up on your own accord, I’d happily engage in conversation.
BV Rates: 6.5/10
Ps: So far, I’ve decided NOT to write much on the plot of the books I’ve read. I hate spoilers. But if you’d like a brief summary, let me know and I can incorporate those in the coming posts.
Pps: I’ve started using BV Rates. Thanks Laitan *smooches*
Wonder was an easy enough read. I’d watched the movie numerous times (I think I cried the first time) so I knew it was a storyline I liked. It was supposed to be an easy kick-off. A light enough read to get through quickly and still stay interested. I find that the books I’m most interested in are the ones that let me into each character’s perspective and Wonder did just that.
In hindsight, it wasn’t the greatest kick-off. I already knew where things were going, and the movie did it so much justice that finishing the book wasn’t a priority. (Confession: I finished it in February!)
For that reason, I’m not rating this book. Not in a it’s-not-worth-rating sense, but in a I’m-not-in-a-position-to-rate-it-because-I-already-watched-it sense. Am I making sense?
What I particularly liked about it though (beyond the storyline) was the ease in which you could read it. To expatiate, let me put it like this (the same way Wura broke it down for me) if English is your second language and you want to better understand how to string sentences and correctly use grammar, this would be my recommendation.
*I’ve been trying to upload a picture of Wonder for the past 48hrs with no joy, so pretend I’ve inserted a picture here and when it finally uploads, I’ll edit this post 🙂 *
KF Rating: N/A
Ps: I’m trying to think up something more interesting than “KF rating”. Any suggestions?
It was (is!) a fresh start on a couple of fronts. On a more obvious note, it was literally the new year, January 1, 2021, but beyond that, it was a rare opportunity to teach myself to improve my vocabulary, be better well spoken.
When people describe me, I always wanted one of the words they used to be REFINED. POLISHED, you know… an all-round LADY and for whatever reason, reading was going to help me accomplish this. On that evening, round the dinner table with friends and family, I decided I was going to read at least one book a month through 2021.
You see, the thing with reading is that it opens a window to exposure beyond the physical. A direct path into minds, thoughts, research… other people’s imagination and sometimes, their experiences.
I’m six months into my reading journey (I honestly doubted I’d last this long) and (I can’t believe I’m saying this), I don’t want to stop. I’m cumulating memories, fantasies, findings; and it’s shaping my mind.
Will you fly with me on this journey?
Ps: Shout Out to Taiwo for encouraging me to do this. My initial reaction was a STRONG NO! I’m not sure if people still blog but in all honesty, I don’t care! I’ve missed this.
1. I get easily (and quickly) excited. It’s usually about the smaller things… gestures, gifts, little wins….
2. I can sleep through just about anything (I think it’s a gift), but the night before I headed to Abeokuta, my excitement kept me up! Yeah, I was surprised too
I’ve lived in Lagos for the better part of my adult life and never once considered experiencing Nigeria’s own tourist attractions. So my friends and I decided that instead of sitting on a flight to the ends of the earth, we’d do what we could about experiencing the local terrain.
Abeokuta was the first adventure (only took an hour and a bit to get there) and even though only 3/5 of us made it, we had fun! Our first stop was the Obasanjo Library. Although the staff tried to kill my spirit (we weren’t allowed to take pictures unless we were using their photographer 🙄), I learnt a lot about who is arguably the best President we’ve ever had.
The Olumo Rock (Under the Rock) was definitely my highlight. We got a bit of the history in word and song (I love varied expressions) and it pushed us physically (some of us anyway… I climbed the stairs. Wasn’t about to risk my pride climbing mountains). Let’s not get into the peace that comes with sitting on Ori Oke (top of the mountain). It’s very easy to have a one on one with God there.
Before we get into the pictures, here is a list of simple tips/things to pack when going on such trips in no particular order:
Wear light, comfortable clothing and trainers. Sandals or slippers are a NO from me
Stay hydrated with water and pack light snacks
Take your camera. Don’t be too fussed about how you look, it really doesn’t matter. You will re live certain moments through your pictures
Go in a group. I went with TVP Adventures and they made it so much fun… so easy. We played games on the bus, they had a photographer, they provided drinks and snacks, face towels, etc.
Don’t forget your power bank
Sunglasses and SPF are a MUST because the sun is intense
Put on your FitBit/Apple Watch/ whatever step/fitness tracking device you have. You’ll amaze yourself. I’d hit 10k steps before I even got to Olumo Rock!
Ladies, don’t bother with makeup. Trust me on this one
Pack baby wipes and a face towel
Go with an open mind. Don’t take yourself too seriously
See Nigeria through my shades….
I was the President for all of 30 seconds
On our way up the Olumo Rock
Quick break for a story
Play the song
Any ideas of where my next adventure should be?
Ps: I lost a friend of mine recently. She was my age. How does that happen??