My oh my, I don’t even know where to start with the Judd Apatow’s incredible documentary on The Avett Brothers, May It Last. When it was first announced that the film would have a one night showing in theaters nationwide, prior to the release of the film on HBO in January, I was still living in Florida. The closest theater playing it was about two hours away, and it was a Tuesday. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to swing that, but the temptation was real. Well, I moved to Nashville Labor Day weekend, so it turned out that I was lucky enough to be about fifteen minutes from a theater playing it last week. From reading tons of posts of praise across social media, I knew I was in for something special, but I wasn’t prepared for how amazing it was. As a viewer in the audience, it felt like these people invited you into their homes (well, they did literally,) and gave such an intimate glimpse into their lives. The rawness and realness that is portrayed in the film is just something entirely unique. I have chills just trying to write about it. There are so many scenes in the film that made me love them even more than I did, prior to seeing it.
It had been quite a while had been quite awhile since I’d read anything by Nina Lacour when I picked up We Are Okay. I’d seen a lot of positive feedback on Twitter, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Let me tell you, I was not prepared for the emotional journey it took me on. I read it on a hot summer day in Florida, melting by the pool. At one point, I couldn’t tell if I was sweating or crying (not kidding, it was feels like 103 that day.) This is such an emotionally stirring story.
Angie Thomas’s debut novel The Hate U Give has spent about 24 weeks on the NYT Bestsellers list. That’s not a coincidence. If you haven’t ready this story yet, you’re missing out. I suggest you settle in for the roller coaster of emotions you’re about to experience when you finally dive into this heart wrenching, powerful, giant chunk of truth you’re about to devour.
I honestly believe this is one of those books that everyone should read, a book for all ages. Don’t let the category of “young adult fiction” turn you off (though, let me just say if it does? Get over it!) It’s a punch in the gut and a squeeze in the heart, but Thomas doesn’t shy away from anything. I wholeheartedly agree with John Green’s “stunning.” Seriously. (It’s heavy for a beach read, but anything is a beach read if you bring it with you right? I was just glad to have my sunglasses to shield my ugly cry.)
Starr Carter is just a teenager hanging out at a party, catching up with old friends, when a fight breaks out and everyone scatters. She catches a ride with a childhood buddy, and next thing you know – they’re getting pulled over by a cop. There’s so much aggression and tension in the situation even though neither of the teens were doing anything wrong. The situation escalates, and next thing you know Starr is holding the lifeless body of her friend as he dies in her arms at the hands of a cop.
Thomas explores such a tumultuous terrain in the story. Starr at first doesn’t want people to know she was involved. She doesn’t want the media attention. She doesn’t want her friends at school who don’t really know the reality of her life, to judge her. She starts to question everything around her. Whether her friends actually see her for who she really is? When I say Thomas explores a variety of terrain I mean – she goes down paths that lead to questions about applying stereotypes, preassigned notions to people or their actions. Do you think about what might lead a kid to sell drugs? One who doesn’t even do drugs himself? The options people have based on their living situations, but the desire to turn their lives around. Think about the undeniable link of family and the lengths that people will go to to help each other survive, at all costs. There are a lot of things to consider here, things to think about without making snap judgements and I think Thomas leads the reader through these – gently, but with the rush of reality. The wave of emotions – fear, hope, uncertainty – you pull for these characters, you see how they get backed into corners at time and feel stuck. You understand the decisions. Then there’s also the media portrayal, odd details that are emphasized even if there’s nothing to back them up – and then all of the pertinent information that’s excluded.
We live in wild times. Countless people have lost their lives for absolutely no reason. Maybe you have your own thoughts about this before hand. I think that by allowing you to get to know characters, their backstories, their families, their aspirations, their struggles – Thomas adds a layer of compassion that hopefully opens readers’ eyes to multiple sides of a story. Hopefully it makes them consider angles they haven’t before.
The Hate U Give is now being made into a movie (with an amazing cast,) but I would definitely recommend reading the book before you watch!
Confession: I guess I lied when I said I probably wouldn’t watch Freeform anymore after Pretty Little Liars ended. Well, I was wrong because something magical slipped into that 9pm time slot. My favorite show on television right now is Freeform’s The Bold Type. Yes, I love Game of Thrones in all of its dragon splendor, but The Bold Type just speaks to me. The show follows three friends in New York City, working for a women’s magazine called Scarlett. I want Jacqueline to be my life coach. I want to sit on the floor in that merchandising closet with my girl friends and figure out life – how to pay your rent when you just took a job that pays less than you were making, or commiserating when you had a meltdown and yelled at your boss in the middle of the office, or when you started a relationship that could actually be great and got scared and broke it off on an impulse. The acting is brilliant. If it were any other show, these plots delivered by any other actresses you would think it was cheesy. No. Here, they’re delivered with sass, wit, class. The execution is spot on. The writing is fabulous. Honestly, I wish I could be a fly on the wall in their writer’s room, just to pick these genius’s brains. (Hence why I follow them on Twitter.) The creators of The Bold Type found a way to combine the funny one liners from Pretty Little Liars, with the heart of girlfriendship of Sex and the City, and the grit of relatable dramas like This Is Us or Gilmore Girls. Sure there are jokes, there are quirky story lines, but at the end of the day it’s people taking care of each other. These girls are seriously going after their dreams, (kicking their heels off and running down city streets barefoot to go after what they want – style.) I think you could be a twenty something, thirty something, forty, fifty etc. something and find a way to relate to this show. The pep talks Jacqueline gives the girls, or they give each other, or their coworkers pass along – they’re pep talks we all need to hear sometimes. It’s a good reminder watching other people make mistakes, that one screw up isn’t the end of the world. Your most mortifying moments will be put behind you, and you’ll move on – growing thicker skin in the journey. As an extra perk the music is wonderful, and I’ve found new songs to obsess over every week. I can not tell you how refreshing this show has been. I look forward to Tuesdays knowing it will make me laugh, cry, contemplate, or push myself to change my circumstances. You can access FreeForm online and catch up on the episodes. It airs Tuesday nights on Freeform. No one is paying me to type this, or promote it, (though hey – I wouldn’t hate it, haha.) I’m just sincerely obsessed with this show, and want everyone I know to give it a shot! Don’t miss the latest episode airing tonight!
Is it really summer if you don’t read a Sarah Dessen book? YOu may recall that Dessen’s latest Once and For All was on my list of anticipated reads for this year. Now that I’ve read it, I just want to be immersed in the story again. As you know, I’m not a fan of formulaic writing (exactly why you don’t want to get me started on Nicholas Sparks books.) Although some may think that Dessen’s novels are predictable, I on the other hand am pleasantly surprised by her plot twists. There was a gut punch in Once and For All that I wasn’t expecting, (which is sometimes a delicious surprise, but here I was biting my lip, and trying not to cry.) Okay, okay I’m getting ahead of myself. Once and For All chronicles the summer before Louna goes off to college. Her mom owns a wedding planning business with her best friend William. Louna is used to not getting caught up in the “magic” of weddings, constantly seeing the bridezillas or the behind the scenes meltdowns, but you have to wonder how a teenager got so jaded. What happened that makes her question if true love is real? Well, you’ll find out. I love that in this story, we’re introduced to Louna’s best friend Jilly, and the trouble maker ADD son of a client Ambrose – both of their personalities balance out Louna’s serious nature. Ambrose is completely unpredictable, and Jilly is all about “living your best life” (however you do that!) As the story unravels we learn about Louna’s past, maybe what makes her skeptical or hesitant, and we’re also reminded that people aren’t always what they seem to be on the surface. It’s a great summer read, as Dessen finds a way to take us back to her favorite endless possibility beach town, Colby, and even teenagers working hard in the summer have to let lose once in a while. I read this entry on Sarah Dessen’s website where she wrote about some of the things that inspired Once and For All (two babysitters simultaneously planning their own very different weddings.) Then I stumbled across this passage, which not only sums up the heart of Once and For All, but it’s also pretty accurate about life:
As I started to think about all this, I began taking it wider, to the idea of how many “perfect” things we want, or are allowed. I’d had everything I wanted with SAINT ANYTHING: maybe I’d never get that again. Louna, my narrator, has this amazing first love and thinks that’s her only chance, her once and for all. But life goes on, even after those walking into the sunset moments. We can’t always have a perfect day, or a perfect experience. We need to take those great moments, though, and appreciate them. It’s tough for us perfectionists, but it’s true. The best stories, I have learned, often come when things don’t go as you planned. (source)