This is my first foray into Lorde’s writing as I don’t typically read poetry. That being said, Lorde’s writing is gorgeous, visceral, and still holds so much truth even close to 40 years after “Sister Outsider” was originally published. That’s really why I wanted to read this, to better understand and educate myself on racism and sexism in a way that I, as a white woman, don’t experience and don’t see the way that black women do, or lesbian POC would experience. I learned so much from this collection of essays and interviews, both about feminism and racism. It took me much longer to get through this relatively short book because I often had to sit with what I just read, to really digest it and hear what Lorde had to say, which is written with incredible passion. But it also took me awhile to finish because the organization of the different essays wasn’t well thought out, and the different essays got a little repetitive.
This is only the second book I’ve read that’s written in verse, but it’s my first book from this author, so I went into this pretty blind. While I still can’t say anything about the structure of the verses and how that plays into the story tempo, I can say that this was an immensely powerful book. “Clap When You Land” is the story of two sisters who only learn of each other’s existence when unthinkable tragedy and grief pulls them together. The story gives us both sister’s POV so the reader can really see how these two girls, connected by blood, view their world and home, their parents and culture, and how they process grief and betrayal differently. I felt Acevedo captured the different voices of her main characters incredibly well and how she captured their grief, their anger, and just the rawness of their tragedy in an incredible and moving way, but the heavy to the light ratio did seem just a tad disproportional to me come the end.
The Black Flamingo follows Michael, a young half-Jamaican half-Greek Cyprian from boyhood to his coming of age in university. Michael struggles with never feeling Black enough, Greek enough, and that being gay is at odds with all these other parts of himself, all while wrestling with a father who never seems to want to see him, and a mother who doesn’t understand that Michael would rather play with Barbie’s then Ninja Turtles. Even with the story seeped in deep questions of identity, there were light moments of family love between Michael and his sister, the power of friendships, and even the sweetness of falling for a guy you never thought would see you in that way, and to have him like you back. Not to mention discovering your tribe—in the university Drag Society for Michael! This was my first verse novel ever, and I admit I was a bit worried going into it—I’ve shied away from verse before as I am not great at connecting with poetry and I had a hard time imagining I could really lose myself in an entire novel written in this format. Oh. My. Goodness. I’m ashamed it took me so long to give this format a try!
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