ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Monthly Archive: June 2020

Monday

22

June 2020

0

COMMENTS

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Five Stars

Best for:
White people who haven’t been deeply in anti-racism work for years.

In a nutshell:
Author Layla F Saad offers a 28-day education and reflection on how to fight racism.

Worth quoting:
“This is not a personal growth book that is designed to make you feel good about yourself.”
“It means that you do this work because you believe in something greater than your own self-gain.”

Why I chose it:
I’ve seen others reference it in a lot of places.

Review:
So, I’m not brand new to anti-racism work. But I might as well be, because the reality is that as a white woman, I’ve just not had to think about race and racism that much. I was raised in the US, thinking of white as the default – a character in a book would be assumed white unless identified otherwise. I mostly consumed books, media, art by white people. I wasn’t raised to be overtly racist, but I certainly wasn’t raised to be anti-racist.

I think this book is an excellent place for white people to start really wrestling with the society we live in, the thoughts in our heads, the experiences we’ve had, and the harm that we have caused. As Ms Saad states in the quote I pulled, this isn’t a self-help tome that you can display prominently so people know you’re in the work. It’s a book that helps you as a means to the end of reducing racism, both that perpetuated by you and by those around you.

The book stems from a 28-day challenge Ms Saad led on Instagram. The book has an introduction to prepare the reader, and a conclusion, with the majority of the book focused on four seven-day challenges. Each week focuses on a different area, building upon the previous work: the basics; anti-Blackness, racial stereotypes, and cultural appropriation; allyship; and power, relationships, and commitments.

She covers ideas you may be familiar with: tone policing, white privilege, stereotypes, and optical (or what I’ve also heard referred to as performative) allyship. She also talks about things that perhaps haven’t been on your radar, like white exceptionalism (assuming you’re ‘one of the good ones’ who doesn’t need to do this work).

Each day ends with reflective journaling prompts. And the thing is, you have to do them. It’s not just about reading them and answering them in your head. It’s about setting aside the time, every day, to get dirty. To get deep into what you’ve done in the past, what you’re doing now. And eventually, how you commit to change.

It’s not easy. Some of it is painful. Actually, most of it is. It SUCKS to peel back more and more layers of white supremacy and see the world in a different way, and start to grapple with this new reality. But it’s necessary.

You won’t finish this book and suddenly stop being complicit in white supremacy. Marking this as read on Goodreads and then forgetting about it can’t be an option. If you’re going to read this, please really read it. Take in the words, internalize, and then work to do better.

The book ends with an exercise of writing out my commitments to anti-racism work as specifically as possible, and to print it out and put it somewhere I will see it every day, which I’ve now done. I also know I will go back through the journal often, to remind myself of what I’ve learned and what I have still to do.

To my fellow white people, I hope you’ll pick this up, so we can continue to reduce the harm we’re causing.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it. Reread it.

Tuesday

9

June 2020

0

COMMENTS

Cage by Lilja Sigurðardóttir

Written by , Posted in Reviews

3 Stars

Best for:
Those who like to follow through with a series.

In a nutshell:
With a time jump six years, we learn that some characters from the last two books have been punished, while others have become bolder. We also meet a couple new folks.

Worth quoting:
N/A

Why I chose it:
I bought the trilogy all at once, and for the most part I’m happy I did.

Review:
This was one of those books where, with about 40 pages to go, I thought ‘wait, how will they be able to wrap all of this up?’ And Sigurðardóttir’s does, mostly, and in a somewhat unexpected way.

The previous two books focused on Sonja, but Sonja doesn’t even appear in this one until about halfway through. Instead, Sonja’s former girlfriend / partial cause of the Icelandic financial crash Agla is the focus. We meet her again in jail, having been abandoned by Sonja years earlier. We also meet a young boy who seems dedicated to blowing something up.

The time leap was a good call, I’d say, though I’m vaguely annoyed at not quite understanding how Sonja got from where she was at the end of the last book. She’s almost an afterthought for most of this. I also had trouble following the aluminum plot here – I get why it was needed but part of me felt like I was watching a hacker film – like, maybe what I’m seeing is based in reality, but it felt a bit off.

Overall I’m glad I read the books. Not exactly what I was looking for, but definitely kept me wondering until the end.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Donate it

Monday

1

June 2020

0

COMMENTS

Trap by Lilja Sigurðardóttir

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Rating: 4 Stars

Best for:
Those who enjoy crime novels of the Icelandic variety. Those who appreciate when the main character is both a) not a man and b) not straight.

In a nutshell:
Sonja thinks she’s out but gets pulled back into the drug running world of Iceland, post financial crash.

Worth quoting:
N/A

Why I chose it:
Icelandic crime. Love it.

Review:
As I hoped, in this book we do get a bit more flesh on the bones of the characters. The style remains true to the first book in the series – many very short chapters, alternating perspective among Sonja, her girlfriend (maybe) Agla, Sonja’s son Tómas, and customs officer Bragi.

Spoilers for book one in the series:
At the end of Snare, Sonja takes Tómas to Florida. At the start of Trap, Adam, Sonja’s ex (and, as we learned at the end of book one, the higher-up in the drug system that she’s been trapped in) tracks them down and brings them back. Sonja now can’t see her son but is forced to continue running drugs.

Some characters from the first book make appearances and have bigger roles, so that’s fun. And it has an interesting resolution, where I’d probably be fairly happy if there weren’t a book three, but there is still enough out there to think ‘oh, I can see where she’s going, there are some loose ends that could be a problem.’

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Donate it