Hue’s Reviews: What We Lose

Raised in Pennsylvania, Thandi views the world of her mother’s childhood in Johannesburg as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being black and white, American and not. She tries to connect these dislocated pieces of her life, and as her mother succumbs to cancer, Thandi searches for an anchor—someone, or something, to love. 

In arresting and unsettling prose, we watch Thandi’s life unfold, from losing her mother and learning to live without the person who has most profoundly shaped her existence, to her own encounters with romance and unexpected motherhood. Through exquisite and emotional vignettes, Clemmons creates a stunning portrayal of what it means to choose to live, after loss. An elegiac distillation, at once intellectual and visceral, of a young woman’s understanding of absence and identity that spans continents and decades, What We Lose heralds the arrival of a virtuosic new voice in fiction. – Goodreads

Throughout my life, coming-of-age novels peppered themselves onto bookshelves whenever I ventured. In these novels, heartbreak, love, loss, and joys scattered their footprints, asking me to grasp the main character’s journey by finding similarity.

Most of the time, they failed as they offered two hundred and more pages of a life I witnessed on television and movie matinees. Bottled in blonde ponytails and bouncy curl drenched in Prell shampoo, any hardships described on the page felt sweeter than my actual life. Their attempts at connection rang hollow, because as a black girl (woman), what should have united us (e.g. girlhood, womanhood) ignored vital intersections that  rendered their stories “cute” and not to be taken seriously. No, Becky with the good hair, we could be friends, but you’ll never understand me, even if you tried.

Via intimate, unsettling, and pining vignettes, Zinzi Clemmons’ What We Lose gifted me one of the few options of a coming-of-age novel that rang more true than I anticipated. Race, family, loss, sex, and identity cultivated this novel. Despite the fifteen years or so, separating me from the author, her heroine, Thandi, the daughter of a South African “colored” woman and a light-skinned black American man, mirrored experiences founding my life’s walls. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she navigated her life with privileges her multicultural background granted, while trying to interpret her carbon footprint in society. When not pulled between worlds – black and white, American and South African, she hashes rich and middle-class by realizing the gumbo her life created and how those outside do not benefit.

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July’s Short Story Sunday, Chapter 2

In my next installment of Short Story Sunday, I picked three tales centered around a common theme of yearning. While the occasional desire makes us whole, pining for what hurts us delivers our ultimate downfall. As I read or listened, their moments merged with my soul. What are worth emotional tornadoes to risk every moment?

In the three stories, we find people at their height of desire, willing to face their adversary straight in the eye with unwitting twists by the end.

Do they meet their objects of desire? Or, do they reach that aforementioned downfall?

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Hue’s Reviews: The Mothers

Every Sunday in every Baptist church lies a thousand stories. Some imagined. Some whispered. Some embellished. Over Sunday dinner plates and soft hums uttered by the grand dames, narrators share them. Some warm your heart and some divide your soul. They compel you to stare at the faces of the pastor, the choir director, and maybe the third usher sitting in the back unable to stare back.

Maybe a talented writer, such as Brit Bennett writes those stories and publishes them, presenting them with clear or open endings made more bittersweet before final offering.

Why did I take so long to read this tale? Did I find myself worried about the whispers? Or, did I connect with them? Make a cup of tea, gather some cookies, and start reading.


In her senior year of high school Nadia Turner’s living the life of a rebel heart. Despite attaining As in school, she runs through her Oceanside, CA surroundings seeking love and attention in all the wrong ways. Mourning her mother’s suicide refuses to ease…until she meets the local pastor’s son. Lucas Sheppard’s 21 and a former college football star, whose injury cut his career prospects short. Enjoying each other’s company, she becomes pregnant.

Spoiler dead ahead…


She aborts, while maintaining her desire to attend college and live the fulfilling life her mother missed. Since Lucas is the only one to know of her decision – according to her – she moves on and meets Aubrey, someone she designates as a “good girl” with a sad past of her own. They become good friends, even as Nadia leaves home and strives to make her dreams come true.

Secrets never stay quiet.

As each of them grow into adults, their pasts collide. But, at what cost? Who’s watching?

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Goodreads Reading Challenge Progress Report



Okay, I’m late with this one. But, better late than never.

Each year, I participate in Goodreads annual reading challenge. I like to keep track of the various stories I read, pushing myself further into bookdom without care.

As of July 13th, I’ve read:

  • 97 out of 85 books (I give myself a small goal in case life happens). I’m at 114% over my goal.
  • 21,022 pages read
  • 4 audiobooks
  • 3.58 average rating
  • I’m a definite fiction reader. I should read a nonfictional book before the year’s finish.

…and maybe others to help your health…never mind

Do you participate? If so, what’s your goal? How are you doing? Finished?

Keep reading and stay strong during your challenge!



Top 5 Tuesday!

Happy Tuesday! What are your plans today? Are you in the middle of a slump? I hope not. For some, summer poses a problem. We have more distractions with the sunny days, road trips, camp, and nights out wandering. We find reading difficult.

However, I vow to complete five bookish activities this summer to keep my reading mojo revved and to enjoy the warm sun.

  • Every Tuesday I participate in a meme called “Top Ten Tuesday” with The Broke and Bookish. But, since that site’s on vacation until mid-August, I will do a quick Top 5 on Tuesdays about literary topics. With the summer, sometimes you need a quick list to get through the day.

  • Wearing Bookish Items. Sue me. I disliked the concept of bookish shirts. Why spend $25 for a t-shirt about books instead of using that money for actual books? Ugh. #trialsofabookdragon I admit some t-shirts catch my eye, though. Okay. Okay. Snap me. I’ll rock a shirt or two this summer. Why not share your literary love on your body and not just your hands alone?

  • Visit either a new or favorite bookstore weekly. L.A. doesn’t suffer from a bookstore lack (Okay, maybe in the deserts). With the Metrolink and a lot of gas in a car, I have two transportation options to hightail my butt to a bookstore and explore. Will I buy? Maybe not. I have three book pre-orders coming through this summer. Budget’s tight. Maybe I’ll snatch a bookmark or two. Gotta support the stores, you know?

  • Listen to an audiobook. I’m a hybrid reader. Though I prefer printed books, I can’t lie. I use e-books every now and then (ARCs for the win!). Yet, I found myself sticking my nose at audiobooks. To me, listening did not equate to reading. I know. I know. Smugness never looks good, especially when my earliest memories of reading included someone else reading to me. I adored story time in school. What’s the difference now? Absolutely nothing. I’m a fool, and with Youtube providing some audiobooks (Does it still count?), I have no excuses.

  • Explore a former genre you liked. For me, I like what I like. Psychological thrillers. Some, not all young adult fiction. Contemporary reads.  I miss reading children’s books. Not quite a new genre, since I teach, but because I teach teens (My early teaching years found myself in kindergarten and first grade. I survived). Since my children are growing (One in college and one hitting the fifth grade), I don’t get to read them anymore. The summer’s a fine time to reconnect.

So, if you find yourself in a reading slump, or you wish to merge your reading love with creative activities to keep you busy, there’s plenty to do.

Don’t know how to start? Here are some sites to kickstart ideas.

Why are you still here? Get moving.

Monday, Monday, So Read-y To Me…

Good Monday, Everyone!

How did your weekend go? Fast? Exciting? Slow? Wakey. Wakey. Time to experience another week.

All I seek is quiet and calm during mine. However, with two kids and a husband, asking is all I’m granted. Yet, with books and a cup of tea by my side (What you think I stop drinking tea because the air outside resembles a sauna? Nevah!!!!), my quiet finds me.

As a matter of fact, my youngest son grants me peace and quiet for four hours. Why? SUMMER CAMP!! If you’re a mom, believe in the power of summer camps. Sure, the kids receive academic enrichment, swimming, and arts and crafts. But, the silver lining for us includes more time to read, no fights over the last popsicle, and having kids so drained and pooped, they beg for naps.

Glory be to summer camps!

Anyway, along with my weekly novels, I add about five short stories or audiobooks to the mix for diversity and new reading experiences. Keep reading fresh, fun, and free from slumps! *Knock on wood*

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