Joyful Reads from May
Hello! I’m Joy, and I love to read. I consider it my greatest talent and favorite hobby. Another one of my preferred pastimes is recommending reads to anyone who is the least bit curious. Seriously. I am always volunteering book recs to people near me, whether they ask or not. I thought it would be fun to bring this passion to Baton Rouge Parents Magazine. I will share with you every book I read month by month and what I think about them. Let’s get started!
Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge
Libertie is a unique novel full of gorgeous prose and deep interior thoughts. This historic fiction brought me to the world of 1860s Brooklyn with a Black female physician and her thoughtful daughter. These two women create a medical practice that caters to women during a volatile time in their community, but it carries through to a college in Ohio and to a very different world in Haiti. I loved learning about Brooklyn, the Black university, and also Haiti in the 1870s. The women in this novel are multidimensional, dynamic, and powerful. The protagonist shares beautiful thoughts and ideas, but I never fell in love with her. It was more like walking alongside a person who is struggling with identity. There were parts I just LOVED and other parts I had to grasp for to connect. I appreciate the amazing writing, language, and theme of self-actualized freedom. Greenidge meditates on the truth of Black Liberation through her characters. It’s a reflective read.
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
Immersive. Stunning. Moving. Although listed as YA, this debut novel that took 10 years to write and that was inspired by Nancy Drew is a complete page turner for grown ups. Part mystery, part romance, and part cultural experience, Fire Keeper’s Daughter is a powerful and engaging read that I will not forget. Set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan among the Ojibwe tribe, this coming-of-age novel captures what it is like to be caught between two cultures in the midst of crisis. Daunis Fontaine is the brilliant heroine who gets caught up helping the FBI discover the source of a dangerous new designer drug that is ravaging her community. I want to read more of this new young amateur detective, and this story should be adapted to any screen. It’s about time we have a young Native American protagonist who shares her heritage as well as grapples with her complex world. Have you read this unforgettable novel? Tell me what you think!
A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum
A Woman Is No Man is a tough read, but so worthwhile. This novel about Palestinian women in Brooklyn was much more than I expected. There is so much grief, abuse, and heartache in this multi-generational tale. The central theme of the redemptive hope of literacy and freedom is realized for a couple of characters, but the journey is bleak. What I appreciated was the nonlinear storytelling and the deep character development. I grew closer than I anticipated to Isra, Sarah, Deya, and even Fareeda. Reading this during the recent Gaza conflict and bombings in Palestine made the story even more prescient. Women everywhere deserve options and choices and freedom.
The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood
I honestly don’t know where to begin. At first, The Bad Muslim Discount began as an immigrant narrative full of tragedy with a biting sense of humor, but one third in, the plot took off in an unexpected way that completely captivated me in a surprising way. This novel follows the narrative of two Muslim immigrants and their varied paths to San Francisco. The perspectives of a sarcastic Pakistani American man and a young and scrappy Iraqi woman bring a vibrant and unforgettable voice to the South Asian/Middle Eastern immigrant experience.The characters, the language, the insight, the brutality, the love, the humor—all of it struck me as completely unique and staggering. It was unexpectedly beautiful, and just got better and better. The discussion of God in this work is really insightful as well. One of the best reads of the year for me.
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
This was a breezy and delightful deviation from my usual heavy reads. I took a break with this travel romcom, and I’m so glad I did. Emily Henry writes People We Meet on Vacation with humor and meticulous detail, and her characters and plot are made for a perfect Netflix romcom. This fun novel features a travel writer and her handsome best friend over 10 summers of vacations in the vein of When Harry Met Sally. People We Meet on Vacation is literally the ideal summer read. I tore through it on my kindle, embracing the distracting fluctuations of this friendship that evolve into something more. This book did make me want to travel REALLY BADLY, though, so hopefully that can happen soon! Pick it up for a page-turning trip of your own!