A Thousand Splendid Suns– A Book Review

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Photo by Nick Hillier on Unsplash

After a day of classes, studying, outlining, a nap, and other finals prep, I have a Bookworms post for you today.

This is one of my favorites, a book much like the dedication to Afghanistan in The Kite Runner, this one is a focus on the lives of Muslim women. As one of the stories I have grown to appreciate the most over the years, here’s what I’ve got.


A Thousand Splendid Suns– Khaled Hosseini

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Photo by Karl Magnuson on Unsplash

If you have read The Kite Runner, Hosseini’s writing style should feel familiar among the streets of Kabul yet again. Set in Afghanistan as the wars break overhead and the Taliban takes over the realities so many knew, the main character Mariam introduce the readers to her own world.

As a harami, what many also know as Jon Snow’s bastard status, Mariam is treated terribly from the very beginning. She is the first character we meet within the novel, and through her eyes, we are introduced to a Muslim culture not often seen in mainstream media.

Throughout the novel, there is love, hope, combat, hardship, and family, but most importantly there is endurance. Mariam’s existence itself is a defiance to what many other characters believe is “proper” or “right.” From a young age, she is forced to face tragedy and misfortune head on, her life dependent on how well she followed rules. The way Hosseini weaves the concepts of political control and cultural gender norms is done seamlessly through his characters; he does so to prove a point, one I hope you find if you read this book.

As women, Mariam and so many others are seen as subordinate. But they do not stay that way.

Beyond endurance, there is also a focus on education– in order to have a more productive and focused society, we need to have educated people. This idea is fostered by the character of Laila, someone bound to Mariam and her own life by unfortunate circumstance. As Laila and Mariam’s fates intersect, they come to love, hate, and rely on one another as the story unfolds. Though they are not related by blood, this book brings to question the concept of family and resilience: just how strong can someone be when they are not fighting solely for themselves?

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Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

The characters and images in this novel are half the battle, as they make it easy to slip into the pages and get caught up in the story. Though their lives are something I have never come close to living, there are still many ways to connect to these characters and their experiences. Whether it’s the fighting spirit Mariam turns out to have or the devotion of Laila, the narrative perspectives of these two women are what drive this story forward.

As the second time I have read this book, again closely following Hosseini’s other work The Kite Runner, I got the chance to read it with a larger perspective and understanding of the world than I had before. No matter your age or the life you live, this book is an incredible opportunity to step into the streets of Kabul for a short while and understand what it means to live to see a thousand splendid suns hiding behind the leaves.


See you Friday.

Once in a Promised Land– A Book Review

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Photo by wu yi on Unsplash

Back at it again with the Bookworms for you today, here we go.

This has been our first full month back at school, which unfortunately has me in all English classes— so while I’m doing a whole lot of reading, most of it is not for fun. That being said, my diversity in English Literature class is one of the better ones, plus I get to read the Kite Runner again next week. Lucky for you, that also means I have a book that’s a little different but still very a good one to share with you.

So without further ado— here’s my book for the month.


Once in a Promised Land— Laila Halaby

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Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

This is one of those books that takes you out of your own life, your own identity, and puts you into the shoes of someone else to walk around in for a little while. It explores the concept of marriage, faith, the intersectionality of home and race, as well as so much else; something in this novel will apply to you.

The main characters of Jassim and Salwa both go through incredible hardships just within the short contents of this book, yet each seem to handle them so differently. As regular human beings, they face the betrayals of their own minds, bodies, and in many ways, their countries as well.

My class is focused on post 9/11 Muslim American Literature, but this book doesn’t necessarily focus on that. The event is almost a side-effect in the novel of everything going on in the characters’ lives, something weaved so seamlessly in by Halaby that the story comes naturally.

Without spoiling anything, I have to say that the metaphors and running motifs in this book are necessary to pay attention to. These metaphors are almost literally threaded between the lines and give a little insight to the lives or backgrounds of our main characters.

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Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

As someone who was raised in American culture, Once in a Promised Land not only gives me a look into a culture beyond my own, but also helps me understand what it can be like to live that culture. Incidents of micro-aggressions, racism, and even blatant tokenism are both obvious and dangerous within this book, as we see how easy it can be to overlook something that seems so wrong from another point of view.

One reason I would urge you to read this book is for the way Halaby writes the lives of her characters: in a way that makes it hard to figure out who to root for. Every character does something wrong— some more than others— and in turn it leaves us to question both our own morals as readers and as a country. This book is not anti-American, absolutely not, but some actions of America’s post-9/11 are questionable and for this reason, it is something we should recognize. 

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Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

The only criticism I have of this book is the speed– at some times, it definitely could have moved faster or some concepts could have been left out. Many character’s lives overlapped, as you will see throughout the book, and while some connections were hidden until later for suspense, I am not so sure it was always necessary. Nevertheless, the underlying lessons in this book were good to understand and I enjoyed many aspects of this novel.

This book will make you think— to question your relationships, what it means to love and to be honest, even what it means to belong to a country. But by the end of it, I hope you think you can see a little bit more about the world around you too.

I know I do.


See you Friday. And for everyone struggling to make it there, know that you will. Just take it day by day. I will see you then.

Firefly Lane– A Book Review

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Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

On Friday, I definitely said I was going to be doing a Poetry Place post  today, but I was incorrect— that’s what I get for not sleeping. Still got two more weeks until Poetry Place, sorry about that. Today is for Bookworms and Bookworms only.

So do you remember that book I hinted at, during the beginning of the month?

Well today is the day, I get to tell you all about it.

This book held a whole lot of promise from the moment I picked it up. I read one of her works maybe six years ago now, and I remembered loving her style but never picking up another one of her books. Until now.

So without further ado…

Firefly Lane— Kristin Hannah

Even though I don’t know the characters or the lives they’re living, this book made me feel nostalgic for people I’ve never met. That’s how you know the writer did a good job.

The way Hannah wrote her book, she follows best friends Tully and Kate, aka TullyandKate, around beginning with their lives in eighth grade up until their late middle-ages. Chronicling a friendship like theirs is hard to do because they come from two very different backgrounds— one is rebellious and independent with a drug-addicted mother who constantly abandons her. The other is quiet and seeks companionship, with the classic kind of family that supports its members unconditionally

Put these two kinds of girls together and let them become best friends— that’s where the story begins.

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Photo by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash

As they get older, working their way through loss and love and career hopes and fear, they change together over time. This story is as much about friendship as it is about love; the two go hand in hand. While the two friends fight, raise kids, and manage to hurt one another a few too many times, Firefly Lane is a look into what it’s like to have a best friend you always come back to

Even if at some point, the coming back gets a little too hard.

You’ll see what I mean if you read the book, through Tully and Kate I understood what it’s like to love and hate someone at the same time. Through their families, we understand what more life has to offer beyond our own selves or our jobs or out self-love.

There are some things you cannot find and holes you cannot fill on your own. Sometimes you need help.

Wonderfully written and hard to put down, this book made me want to read what happened at the end even while I was four hundred pages away from it. 

I enjoyed it, for the most part, but I did find one flaw in the book (and also one typo, as a writer I love finding those.) As I read, more towards the end of the book, one question kept popping into my head that shouldn’t have: when is this going to end?

I will say, the book was hard to put down– I meant it when I said that. But it also kept bouncing from one thing to another and I just kept asking myself when we would get to the big twist at the end. It came eventually, trust me it did, but I think it was a little long winded to get to. So I wanted to point that out.

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Photo by taylor hernandez on Unsplash

The one thing that surprised me about this book, a little long winded or not, is that is made me miss people… It made me miss everyone. In the way that you think of someone and you can hear their laugh in your ears or you hear a phrase and automatically connect it to them saying it. Or even just the kind of hugs you get from only a few people, the company that’s so easy to be around in silences that don’t have to be awkward.

This book is a chronicle of the human condition through TullyandKate. And it was wonderful.

I hope you think so too.

The Truth About Forever– A Book Review

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Photo by wu yi on Unsplash

Another Bookworms post for your Tuesday and I’m bringing you one of the books that I come back to every summer. Each year, I always have this list of books to read, to finally get my hands on with the hope that I can use the plethora of time I like think summers hold.

Then I got older and realized that time wasn’t always a guarantee. First it was AP class homework, then an internship along with the homework, and now I’m in college spending my summer with class, work weeks, and not enough time for reading.

And yet, that hasn’t stopped me from going back to old favorites. For young adult books, author Sarah Dessen does pretty well from books like Just Listen to Lock and Key, each telling different stories that somehow connect to one another in some way. So without further ado, here is my book review for one of my favorites from her.

The Truth About Forever— Sarah Dessen

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Photo by Scott Broome on Unsplash

It’s your classic YA novel, you’ve got your main girl who has a boy and decides to let go of that boy, while finding a new one in the process when she wasn’t really looking for him. At least that’s what it sounds like from the back cover.

But once you go a little deeper, you’ll realize that this book is about grief just as much as it is about love— two things that undoubtedly go together. For each character in the book, it seems they are all trying to figure out how to reconcile the people they used to be with who they are becoming. Take the moms or the sons or the daughters or the friends, every single one of them is working through their past to get to their future.

Maybe that’s one reason I like this book so much, because it’s relatable no matter the circumstances your life has put you in. This book makes sense.

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Photo by Milan Popovic on Unsplash

Macy is the kind of main character that holds a whole lot of genuine comedy and sarcasm underneath her practicality and need for control. Combine her with the character of Wes, whose spontaneity and creativity makes him so endearing in the process, and it’s hard not to be drawn into their stories.

As their lives collide with one another, we watch them get pulled far outside their comfort zones and into a different way of living. Past the grief and the love, this book is also about family and relationships as a whole. The way Macy interacts with her mother and sister parallels with the way Wes and his brother interact— they both invite you into these relationships within the pages.

Not only does this book offer a feel for the families, but it also offers an inside look into Macy’s head and her need for perfection, combating the guilt and inadequacy she so constantly feels with people like her mother or old flame Jason even. This novel is a slice of life, with a heartthrob thrown into the middle of it for a little comedic and romantic relief throughout.

One thing I will say took away from this book a little bit is its slow start. Sticking with the book was easy for me simply because I like Dessen’s work and knew it would be worth the wait. But for some, things only get interesting when Wes comes into the storyline and gives us someone to get attached to.

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Once that happens, the pages turn from there and if you’re anything like me, it’ll be one of those books that you just keep reading so you finish it before you put it down even once.


If you’ve read this book, let me know what you think! And if you haven’t yet, I hope you’ll take a chance on this one. I don’t think you will regret it.

Two Poets, One Post– A Poetry Book Review

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Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

How does someone define what good poetry looks like?

For some people, it’s what sounds beautiful, what makes them feel something. Even if all that can be is a little less alone.

So today, I’m doing a bit of a crossover between my poetry and book review monthly features to review two poetry books: one author that seems to have become the standard, and one that I believe has decided to change the standards completely.

Here we go:

Moon Theory— Robert. M. Drake (r.m.drake)

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Photo by Tony Detroit on Unsplash

Even if you don’t know this author, you’ve probably seen his work, whether it’s through tattoos, plastered onto city walls, popping into instagram feeds, or dyed onto a T shirt. He may have started small, but he didn’t stay that way for long.

I have been reading r.m. drake’s books since I was in high school, coming across the typewriter script through Instagram. This man was the beginning of a new kind of poetry for me. Even more than beautiful imagery and poetic words, his writing is a genuine ode to living and breathing in the world the way we do— through every little things that makes us who we are.

Over the years, I’ve collected each one his books, buying four more back in April before I realized there was another four I am still yet to own. When asked to write of my inspirations for art in a Junior year drawing and painting class, among Monet and Picasso, he was one of them. I said “His use of expression in his writing is indescribably eye opening and influential to the way I write and think.” In a quote from his book, there are little bits of what we all need reminders of sometimes:

“Find the courage to find your better days, and never lost track of the laughter that’s meant to find you.”
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Photo by Michael Fenton on Unsplash

As an ode to Self Love, Moon Theory holds at least one secret for each one of us. While many poets, myself included, make the mistake of writing things that are too redundant or obvious, Drake does not do the same. He writes things that should be obvious, but somehow aren’t until someone tells us the truth. His books can be that truth. Through this book, I think everyone can find something to relate to, something they need to hear, and in the end it can make people feel a little less alone.

That’s what poetry is, isn’t it? If you want to know more about the author, check him out here.

I wrote this for you— Iain S. Thomas

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Photo by Saffu on Unsplash

I bought this book on a whim last summer— having a B&N in my hometown after so long without a bookstore really tests my self-control and my credit card— because I wanted to know if the dark, ambiguous cover lying in my hands held much of the same within its leaves. It didn’t.

This writer is different, his aim not even to write poetry but to write something and create something new, as he does with each of his works. This book, published back in 2011, was his first and it started off as a blog that was just for fun between him and his friend. Over time, it became so much more than that.

These days I have seen a lot of artistic takes on poetry, many of which combine some kind of drawing with the words they decide to put on a page. Thomas combined his words with photos taken by a friend Jon who was living in Japan. I found myself flipping through the book yesterday, taking in the photos and the abstract changes that occur through the book from his style and positioning choices. I found a quote that’s so hard to explain:

“The least you can do, is uncross your heart. Unhope to die.”
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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

He’s not wrong.

Between Thomas and Drake, their writing is beautiful and true. Nothing short of words that need to be heard. This anthology is nothing short of honest, in a dark and sometimes beautiful, though often sad, sort of way. But in a time of so much change and too many lies, his truth is refreshing. It’s relatable. Some of the poems remind you of who you are or who you wanted to be, others take you back to the shower thoughts you had and never wrote down. But each of them hold pieces of each of us. They help spell out the human existence.

Maybe you’ll check them out and let me know what you think. See you all Friday.

It Takes Two– A Pride Month Themed Book Review

alisa-anton-632369-unsplashI promised you a Bookworms post today didn’t I?

So here I am, with two YA books for you that each touch on LGBT topics and a bigger picture of love or adjusting to who we are that tie them both together.

As two very different novels, I chose these because one was about something I know almost nothing of and the other was something that I think could be relatable for anyone, whether or not you identify with the community.

They’re about growing up and living live as we are, after all, I think that’s something we’ve all gone through. So without further ado, here we go.


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe–  Benjamin Alire Sáenz

diego-duarte-cereceda-714994-unsplash.jpgThis book is full of tender moments that still surprise me to be pulled into through the pages. Aristotle watches his life move around him, his parents changing while his own perspectives do, as he figures out who they are alongside himself.

We watch him grow up as the story plays out and his story is wonderfully written.

One line stuck with me that I believe sums up the novel quite well, something I think many people have thought before:

“When do we start feeling like the world belongs to us?

I used to wonder this myself, now questioning whether or not it ever will. Dante and Aristotle both explore this as their friendship changes throughout the chapters. Even more than a book about sexuality or growing up, it’s a story about love and adapting to change. Each relationship is no longer what it began as, exploring what it means to be a parent or a friend and what that looks like from the outside. redd-angelo-11901-unsplash

Aristotle’s character goes through a lot, from the anger and the loss he feels to the disconnection and anticipation within his own life. Add these feelings in with the violence he experiences toward the LGBT community, the kind that many people forget truly happens, and we realize just how hard it can be to sometimes accept who we are. Especially when other people don’t.

That is the journey of this book.

Through intensely real characters, a strongly interwoven Latino culture, and the mind of a boy who’s just trying to understand it all along the way, it’s about love just as much as it’s about trying to hold the world in your hands when it never quite seems to fit right.

It’s about trying to discover the secrets of the universe.

The Symptoms of Being Human– Jeff Garvin

scott-webb-270034-unsplash.jpgFirst of all, there’s a Bratz doll that comes up in this book and when I read those pages, I could feel that same doll in my 7 year old hands. Talk about nostalgia. This book is the epitome of high school drama surrounded by the confusion of growing up feeling misunderstood. You’ve got classic lunch scenes, the misfits, the popular people so clearly in the wrong, and teachers that never see anything.

Maybe it’s a cliche— maybe it’s also true.

What struck me about this book is how closely Riley’s struggles could relate to thousands of young people while at the same time, be so specific to one experience that it goes both ways. Because part of me understands exactly what the character was going through, a lot of it happens to all of us in some shape or form. The bullying, the distance from people we love, the adolescent angst, the list goes on.

The other part of me was thrown into a world where gender fluidity is more real than it ever has been. I personally have never experienced it nor do I have any close friends that openly identify with it, so if anything this book was an inside look into a life that I’ve never had. And I can empathize with Riley’s struggles.erol-ahmed-255854-unsplash

Because growing up, things get pretty confusing pretty quickly. We all get that. Especially in high school, everything is always changing. But through Riley, Solo, and several other characters, their personalities were there along with a whole lot of information about something most people don’t understand.

What this book lacked was a solid foundation for a plot. If you want a good story with a solid plot that isn’t too predictable, this might not be what you’re looking for. But if you’re looking for a little more understanding of gender fluidity and the possibilities of what that can mean, this is a good place to start. As long as you don’t stop here.

For we’ve all got a whole lot to learn in today’s world. Thanks to the internet, now we can.

Also, if anyone has read this, did you hear catch Folsom Prison reference in chapter 6? Classic, all we need is a Johnny Cash mention and my little hometown is on the map.


So thanks for sticking around for these two books and if you check them out, let me know what you think! I’ll see you all on Friday.

The Perks of Being A Bibliophile

freestocks-org-89185-unsplashAs much as I hate to say it, I haven’t had much time to read this past month. After going through two books in April and watching the time go by, somehow it’s already week three of May and well, welcome to another Bookworms post.

I’ve got one of my favorite books for you.

I did say I haven’t had much time to read, but lucky enough I’ve had enough to re-read a book that will always have a place in my heart. As mental health awareness month, it definitely gets into that among several other things, but I think one of my favorite parts about the book is that it truly takes a look at who we are as human beings— how we hurt and how we love, how we laugh and how we live… Though I understand it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, this is one of the good ones.

The Perks of Being A Wallflower— Stephen Chbosky

Considering he both directed the movie and wrote the book, I see an incredible amount of talent in Chbosky; I still haven’t decided whether the story was better told on screen or through pages and well, I’ve gone through each multiple times.annie-spratt-648653-unsplash.jpg

What I really love about this narrative is how intimately you can feel each character, from Charlie and Sam to Candace and Patrick, all of them begin to feel real. I think that’s a really important aspect of novels, the characters can make or break the story. But even if you can’t fully relate to the experiences or identities of those in this book, they can still show you things in yourself that you never saw before.

Let’s talk about plot really quickly, this is your classic coming of age angsty teenage boy plot, as Charlie is a freshman in high school just trying to figure himself out, pushing through bullies along the way. But he’s not the only one. We meet Sam who is trying so hard to get into the college she wants while navigating bad relationships along the way, and then there’s Patrick who is dealing with his own sexuality and coming to terms with how that affects those around him. Maybe these ideas are specific to the characters, but all of it becomes universal to the rest of us. Add in the high school troupe and classic feeling of being right back in those halls, there you go. This is a book about life.

heather-emond-313088-unsplashOftentimes I seek literature to get out of my own existence for a while, especially when it comes to re-reading a book that I know will do the trick; this one, however, does so much more than that. This book builds a whole new world for you to fall into that maybe isn’t so far from the one you’re already in and manages to show you something new every time you thumb through its pages. It wakes you up.

There’s one quote in the book, a cheesy one that I’m sure people make fun of, that I like to think about when I think about love: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Because we do, I know a lot of the times when we are treated badly or handed the short end of the stick, we wonder what we did to deserve it or maybe if that’s what we’ve earned. We accept the love we think we deserve, I guess it has to come from us to know we deserve more.

Like I said, this book is full of so many stories and lives that I think it is one anyone who loves books should read— I won’t hold it against you if you don’t like it. The novel is written in the form of letters, addressed to someone we don’t quite know or figure out, as Charlie works through his issues and discovers himself throughout the book. More than a story about people and about the different lives they live, this book can be a reminder to take care of ourselves in our relationships and to remember to look up every now and then.yoann-boyer-185507-unsplash.jpg

You may be missing a moment that just might make you feel infinite.

If you don’t know what that means, go read the book and you will find out. As for the rest of it, take care of yourselves this week and I’ll see you all on Friday! Happy Tuesday everyone.