April 8, 2021

Abbreviations #127: Between the World and Me, Hood Feminism + The Poet X

Between the World and Me
is a piece (part letter, part essay) that author Ta-nehisi Coates wrote to his adolescent son where he grapples with his personal thoughts about what it means to be Black in America in 2015. This is not meant as a guide to the entirety of the African-American experience. But it is a personal account of Coates grappling with what it means to inhabit a black body, especially with the weight of American history and current societal views. It’s been almost six years since this was first published, and it breaks my heart to still feel like many of the questions Coates asks are still questions that don’t have definitive answers. There is something utterly raw about his candor in telling his son about his history, the country they live in, and the fears and concerns and even the hopes he harbors. And it’s the personal nature of this non-fiction read that really struck me the most. While I will never be able to fully understand exactly what being Black means in this country, I do think that reading these reflections from Coates offered valuable perspective and I’m glad I read it. (P.S. Highly recommend the audiobook as the author narrates it!)

Pub Info: July 14, 2015 by Spiegel & Grau | Add it on Goodreads

Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism has been on my radar since its release last year. I impulsively decided to listen to the audiobook recently and I’m glad I did! This non-fiction release centers entirely around Kendall’s frank assessment of feminism and societal issues, including basic needs like food, education, housing and medical care, and examinations of race, politics, class. I appreciated the frank, raw honesty of Kendall’s tone as she lays out a combination of her personal anecdotes in tandem with the facts gathered from her research. Since there are a variety of topics tackled (and broken up neatly into consumable sections), it is a solid starting point for anyone looking to become more informed and educated viewed specifically from a feminist perspective. It wasn’t always the easiest thing to read (or to hear, in my case, since I listened to Kendall narrate her work on audio), but I appreciated the way it challenged me to reevaluate my perspective and view things with a more critical eye. Hood Feminism was smart and digestible, and I’d fully recommend giving this non-fiction read a shot.

Pub Info: March 3, 2020 by Viking Add it on Goodreads

Whenever I heard someone talk about The Poet X, it was always being praised. My expectations for this novel in verse kept getting higher and higher as time went on and more of my friends read it, and I will admit to being so nervous before I finally clicked play on the audiobook this year. I’m so happy to be able to say that my worries were unfounded, as I loved The Poet X. At its heart, this is the story of a teen – Xiomara Batista – as she grapples with her place in the world, her relationships, her feelings and her mother’s religious beliefs. There’s so much she wants to say but can’t do so out loud, and so, pouring out her feelings through words on the pages of a leather notebook becomes her outlet. But things change when she’s invited to join her school’s poetry club and even as she works out how to attend without her mami finding out and whether she can really find the courage to perform her poems out loud, Xiomara can’t help being drawn to the idea of her voice finally being heard. I said this when I shared my initial thoughts on Goodreads, but so many other, more eloquent reviewers have already shared their thoughts on this incredible book. I really admire Acevedo’s way with words; her poetry is lovely in rhythm, word choice and length, and I love the way that she’s able to tell us Xiomara’s story in so few words. Her technical use of narrative through verse is undeniably clever too (and I loved the bonus of hearing about the contrapuntal poem included in the story). Xiomara really came to life in such a vibrant, real way through her words, as did the supporting cast in her story. Though she and I couldn’t be more different in a lot of ways, our mutual love of and comfort in words as a form of expression instantly made connecting with her an easy thing. I loved going on this journey with her! The Poet X really lived up to all the hype I’d heard (and noted in my mind), and I can add my hat to the ring when it comes to singing its praises and recommending you pick it up if you haven’t already. (P.S. I actually listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by Acevedo herself, and it is definitely a stellar way to experience this story.)

Pub Info: March 6, 2018 by Harper Teen Add it on Goodreads


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