Before you start to think “oh nooooo, these books must’ve been bad”, I’mma stop you right there because on the contrary my friends, they were Really good books (there would be no post if they weren’t)! This post will be a bit more transparent than usual because these topics are fairly personal & I tend to keep things close to my chest…I’m not finna tell you all my bidness but I’ll be giving a glimpse!
I’ve been in therapy over two years now, a fact I am very unashamed of and am happy to talk about. I’ve been blessed to find not only a Black therapist but a Black Lady therapist which is more important than gets talked about because #RepresentationMatters in Mental Health practices too. I usually mention the books that I am reading at the time to her at the beginning of sessions because I’m bookish at any time of the day but usually, they don’t trigger me into a crying mess…until these two books came into the picture! What are these two books that I speak of, well, let’s get to that shall we?
Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield: This book was so very beautifully written. Besides having one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever laid my eyes on, the narrative was poetic & soothing even when I was balling my eyes out. It is so vivid and I felt like I was there in Jamaica with Tilla though I have never set foot on Jamaican soil before. I don’t share in Asha’s Jamaican heritage but as a fellow descendant of the Caribbean, I could relate to so much of this story.
Now, you must be wondering what about this book triggered me since I wrote nice things? Well, it was the Father/Daughter & family dynamic throughout the story. During the launch for this book, I spoke and said that this book triggered me into an absolute mess during my therapy session that I thankfully had pretty close to when I finished the book. My relationship with my Black Caribbean father is a very complicated one…one that in so many ways is like Tilla’s with her father in how she used to view her dad and my sister was much the same as her younger sister. The way that Tilla tried to protect her sister from the knowledge she had of her dad, I did the same with my own father’s anger. My father was not a very nice man (to put that delicately) at times in my own childhood/teenagehood but like Tilla, I felt (still feel) that pull to try to have a better relationship with him. Tilla’s father said some really hurtful things to her and so many of those things cracked me open because Fathers really should be showing their daughters the type of love they should be receiving from their chosen partners. When he would say the things he did, it hurt like they were being said to me because I’ve experienced similar… Needless to say, I’ve been working on healing that part of myself before I could really try with my father especially since he is so different from the man I grew up with.
As for the family dynamic…well, I wasn’t a fan of her father’s family and wanted to throw most of them away. She had some family members that were great (well, like 2 to 4 max) but as for the others… If I was capable of reaching through my Kindle Fire to yolk them up, I would’ve without hesitation. The way that they treated Tilla was beyond mind blowing! I can’t say much of my family members are angels either but I’ve never wanted to sit them on hot coals the way I wanted to to Tilla’s family. Families like Tilla’s are a reminder of why chosen families are so important and as well as knowing who is a true support system & who to steer so clear of that you are on the other side of town.
Speaking of other side of town, You are probably wondering what the second book is and I will tell you but not as much mainly because it isn’t out yet…
Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis: This book has been one that I have been anticipating since I saw the cover. I knew from the moment that I saw it (#BookishSpideySense), that I had to read it and I was beyond ecstatic that I was approved for it on Netgalley! I completely ate up this book in a day, which is a running record for me when it comes to books I’m completely into. I didn’t want to put my Amazon Fire Down for a moment and I even had a series of tweets about this book. I will say, don’t be surprised if you find a blog post dedicated to BWB the week it releases (8/24/2021 so go ahead and pre-order it.)
So what about a book that I finished in a day triggered yet another tear-filled therapy session? Welp, it was the mother/daughter relationship (are y’all really surprised? Parent relationships are tough). There were so many moments where my jaw just dropped and left me wondering how Katrell’s mom ever thought it was a good idea to procreate (yea, that’s the thought that went through my mind at times y’all). I will say that my mother is not like Katrell’s mother in how she manipulated/used her and for that, I am lucky. I will say that my mom can be as tone-deaf as Katrell’s mother (she will hate that I said this, nor would my father for that matter, but I won’t lie here). When it came to her boyfriends and Katrell’s very obvious cries for help, she didn’t want to hear it. It made me angry because I have dealt with & still deal with some of that mindset. The difference is Katrell is a teen and I’m now an adult but I dealt with the hierarchy that my mom established between her significant others & I as a teen. I really wanted to hug Katrell at so many points during the book, for both my teenage self & my adult self because Sis needed it.
Of course, I would love to say more about this book but as I talk/write about it, I feel like I REALLY want to do a dedicated blog post about BWB because of how much it spoke to my Spirit. I’m not going to tell you how to spend your money or anything but this would be a worthwhile pre-order my friends!
Really, both of these books are worthwhile buys. Yes, I cried my eyes out while reading these books (I’m an emotional being)…and yes, I felt myself fall to pieces but I also started to put the pieces back together, especially with my therapist. They spoke to the parts of myself that wondered if I was overthinking my past experiences, if there was something somehow wrong with me because my mind & body still carried these feelings. These books showed me that that was not the case and they also helped facilitate healing those parts of me that still held on to so tightly to those feelings/thoughts/experiences.
When people ask me why I read so much YA and MG, it’s in part because of books like these…the books that crack me open & help me exam my own experiences so that I can put myself back together stronger than I was before I opened up that book. It’s really a gift to be able to See myself and so many others that I know represented in this way. It’s truly why I fight as hard for these books as I do. So that kids of color can see themselves reflected on the page, whether its of their best moments or their lowest because there is nothing like being Seen. It’s quite literally my prayer for my Godchildren, my students, my (hopefully) future children, All Children/Teens Of Color really to have a plethora of books that they could fully See themselves in.
So y’all, I’m going to end this post here before I end up in a heap by my laptop (take that as literally as you like). Are there any books you’ve felt crack you open? Any books that led to some heart-wrenching therapy sessions (I love a good cry, it’s healthy)? Let’s talk about them (the books, not the therapy sessions, those are personal)! You can find and follow me out in the interwebs Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can typically find me in book centered clubs/rooms (also subscribe to this blog pretty please). As usual, I’m wishing you happy reading and sending you bunches of bookish love! Please take care of yourselves out in this crazy crazy world! Peace!