2016 was a great year for reading; I devoured over 75 books and wrote reviews for many. I find that when it is time to rank a book I tend to be generous and usually give it 4 or 5 stars. An author spends so much time, energy and money to get their book out there so I like to look for attributes I can assign value to so their hard work is justified. I rarely will put a book down unfinished so effort is exerted all around and that deserves at least 4 or 5 stars, doesn’t it?
Someone recently told me they know I read a lot and it seems like I like everything. In a way that is true; I do appreciate something about every book I read, but of course some are better than others. In reviews I try to focus on the positive aspects to help other readers discover new authors and learn about different topics.
One of my favorite things to do is to talk to people about what they like to read and then recommend books I think they will enjoy. Meeting people at the front tables in Barnes and Noble and the new fiction section at The Westport Library to discuss the latest releases is a great time for me and I am hoping in writing this blog I will connect with more book lovers and have some fun! Lots of friends email, call and text me asking what I’m reading and what they should pick up next, so now’s the time to go public!
There you have it. Welcome to BOOK NATION!
All Day by Liza Jessie Peterson (available May 2, 2017)
Bravo, Liza Jessie Peterson! All Day: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island, New York’s Most Notorious Jail was a poetic, spiritual and powerful read. The author took me on a draining and emotional ride as she expressed her personal frustration trying to financially support herself without losing her ever present dedication to her creativity, art, poetry and performance all the while never giving up her unyielding desperation to teach…to inspire the kids at Rikers to learn where they came from and to know that they matter.
In some ways, the author, Liza is no different than some of the incarcerated kids; her rage makes her feel as if she is drowning, she is losing traction and feels depressed and sad and recognizes that sleep is an escape. At times her rage bubbles up and gets released to whoever is there and she even acknowledges that a “split second of misdirected fury” could put her on the undesirable side of the bars.
Her beautiful prose is chock full of meaning and flows so naturally, I can picture her telling her story in person as her words evoke the emotion of a live conversation. Even her students appreciate her poetic phrasing as they observe how her anger fuels the creativity and beauty of her words. The boys in her class were her family and the rapport they developed was of mutual respect. Her knowledge of black history, poetry, music, life and survival as well as her theatrical and expressive performance skills are all put to good use at Rikers and I admire this strong, authentic, multitalented author/artist/teacher who has made a difference and surely continues to do so. This book is five stars for me, and so is Liza Jessie Peterson…beautiful, articulate and inspiring.