Book Review: For All Time by Shanna Miles

As soon as I read the blurb on For All Time by Shanna Miles, I was sure I would like it: a “romance that follows two lovers fated to repeat their story across hundreds of lifetimes, who hope to break the cycle once and for all.” I was still wowed by just how riveted I was. I cared about Tamar and Fayard from the very first page. Which is all the more remarkable since modern urban fantasy isn’t my usual inclination.

Then Shanna Miles braids in more of their stories, from the wealthy West African empire of Mali in the 1300s, to 1920s Philadelphia. Tamar and Fayard have their own souls in each time, but their lives vary drastically from period to period, which makes each of them very different people depending on when we find them. I quickly came to care about their fates in each era. Every time they are drawn together by love, and every time they are torn apart.

Their story has some excellent twists – some quite shocking. The best is at the end. I deeply dislike spoilers, so I will try to give nothing away. I’ll only say I’m very glad to have read For All Time, and I recommend it to readers who love well-written love stories that span time and space. You can get the hardback and audio book right now through all the regular channels, and pre-order the paperback for September 6th. When I checked today, I was very pleased to see that it was among Bookshop.org’s Romance Picks by POC Authors, and it’s also Amazon’s Editors’ Pick for Best Young Adult.

Thank you, Shanna Miles! I’m so grateful to have gotten your book via your raffle, though I would have been very glad to have bought it!

Book Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

A powerful, gripping, timely story.

When I saw Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give in my local bookstore, I admit the title made me wary. But when my husband brought it home to read for himself, I glanced inside, and read. And read. And read. I could hardly put it down, and finished it in record time.

I’m pretty new to reviewing books, but the turmoil of our recent times moves me to try to do my best by this remarkable novel. I’m working from memory of when I read this perhaps a year ago. The details may be fuzzy, but the story has stuck with me.

16-year-old Starr is dragged to a party that she doesn’t want to go to. The one good thing is she reconnects with her childhood best friend, Khalil. When Khalil is driving Starr home, they’re pulled over by a policeman for no visible reason – and Khalil, unarmed, is shot and killed.

Starr is grief-stricken, her life and world turned upside down. Her friendships are stretched to breaking. Over time, everyone she cares most about is in danger. And Starr is faced with the dangerous decision of to speak out, or not.

Starr’s story is told with power, with surprising humor, and with love. The people in it are all so very real, flesh and blood human beings. I felt like I got to know Starr and her family, and that was a privilege. I cared deeply about them, and got swept up in what was happening to them, the harrowing choices they had to make.

My husband reads more nonfiction than fiction, but he, too, could barely put this book down. We saw the movie together. It differs from the book in a few significant ways, but author Angie Thomas was an executive producer, and that gives me some assurance that the changes had her permission. The ending may even be more powerful than the book’s.

Both the book and the movie have my highest recommendation. They are excellent in their own rights, and so very important, especially now. I really haven’t begun to do them justice; to do that, read and see them for yourselves.

Black lives matter. Black voices need to be heard. Black stories need to be told.

Publisher’s Weekly has made lists of antiracist fiction and nonfiction reading for adults. You can find the fiction list here, and the nonfiction list here.

For antiracist nonfiction for younger people, have a look at Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. I have not yet read it, but an interview with the authors – and some high school students who read their book – make a very compelling case for it.

But as black author Shanna Miles said on twitter, “By all means pick up books about how to talk about racism but then you must pick up books about black kids being kids. If you don’t you teach your children that the natural state of being for black folks is suffering.” She links to some books on that twitter comment, and has made a Goodreads list as well.

Her feelings on this matter are echoed by Christine Taylor-Butler, a black kid lit author who said on twitter, “I’m a parent, author, and a former college interviewer. Please hear me – in this time of stress people want to ‘flood’ their kids with books about racism. Please provide 20 joyful books for every one book on racism. They also need to know POC kids are like every other kid.” She has written a blog about why diversity matters in science fiction and fantasy.

These authors opened my eyes to a new perspective. I’ve added their books to my reading list. I welcome more recommendations on these subjects in the comments.

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑