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Meg Says Read This: Dear Mr. You

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One of my favorite reads of 2017 also happened to be one of the last books I read this past year. Let me start off by saying, I’ve always been captivated by Mary-Louise Parker’s acting skills. I think it’s  phenomenal how she can play such a variety of characters, and make the audience believe those traits are a part of her core. I remember when Dear Mr. You, was first being marketed back in 2015. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to read it because I was fascinated by the premise. Now that I have? I can’t shut up about it. I’d been in a bit of a reading rut, fiction hadn’t captured my attention as quickly as usual, and I didn’t want to read something technical, so I grabbed this book from my stack of “to-read” on the shelf. Instantly I was blown away by MLP’s ability to weave such beautiful words together. She truly is a master of the art of story telling. This book is written in a letter format that basically reads like essays, or short stories. There’s a variety of topics covered – dating, insecurity, adoption, friendship, learning yourself. Sometimes, she writes in such a raw and vulnerable way that hit me so hard, I had to take a break with tear streaked cheeks. Not in a heartbreaking way, but in a beautiful way that was totally recognizing the special qualities or difficulty of certain moments in life. This was definitely a thought-provoking read, at times comical, and all around it felt very genuine and sincere. If you’re looking for something that’s refreshing, and a little different than I highly suggest you check out Dear Mr. You. 

If you’ve ever felt like you’ve lived a dozen different lives in your time on earth, and sometimes it’s mind boggling how they all could roll into one another and be the map of one single life – than I think you’ll appreciate this book. If you’ve ever snapped at a stranger who meant you know harm because you were literally at your wits end and they were the unfortunate soul to cross your path? You’ll appreciate this book. If you’ve leaped head first into romantic adventure knowing whatever fate you crash into has to be better than to sit on the sidelines wondering? You’ll appreciate this book. If you feel like you know what you want to do in life, and you’re taking all the wrong roads to get there? You’ll appreciate this book. If you’ve connected with random passerbys and your interactions resonate with you years later, you’ll appreciate this book. If you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing with your life, and some days you’re hanging on by a thread? You’ll appreciate this book.

Mary-Louise Parker writes in such a way where sharing her experiences so openly, even if they’re not all specific events you could name – sometimes, they’re the observation of significant interactions – makes you examine the interactions in your own life. Who is your emergency contact? What do you want so badly out of this life that you will scrape by to achieve those goals? What makes you find the magic, on the days when life looses its sparkle?

Dear Mr.You is poetic, soul-searching, gut-wrenching, insightful, and truly just a work of art that aspire to harness just a sliver of the talent it took to create. If my gushing hasn’t convinced you already, just go ahead and give this one a try.

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Listen to This: “Cover Me Up” by Jason Isbell

Hi everyone, happy November! I know the posts have been sporadic again, but I have a few in mind. Today’s might not be so fresh because I remember gushing over this song last year, but this morning it just seemed so right. “Cover Me Up” by Jason Isbell is hands down one of my favorite songs. Not just one of my favorite Isbell songs, but one of my favorite songs across the board. I just think it’s so raw and beautiful. This morning on my way to work it came on the radio, and everything seemed to melt away and turn into a smile. It wasn’t even that stressful of a morning, but it was gray and rainy, dark, and traffic was congested, and this song came on when I was a few blocks from work. I actively noticed myself inhale. It was like “okay, here’s your moment to take a deep breath and be ready to take on whatever the day has in store.” While this song put my morning off to a great start, it also goes so well with the cozy feeling I had before I even left the house this morning. It was one of those days where you wake up and you just feel like the perfect temperature. The blankets aren’t suffocating you, and you have time to close your eyes a bit longer before the alarm goes off. And the coziness made me not even care about the jarring dreams I had the night before. Anyway, none of that has to do with this song but more with how this song makes me feel. “So cover me up and know you’re enough, to use me for good” is such a beautiful line.  I love that the lyrics combine love, and pure emotion, but the song has weight and texture to it, it’s not just flowery poetry. It’s life, and grit, and it’s all the stuff in between that pales in comparison when you know you’ve got something good in life worth fighting for. So, with all that being said if you’re not familiar with this song, check out a live version from Austin City Limits. 

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Listen to This: “Praying” by Kesha

First of all – Happy Friday everyone! Second of all – I apologize for the lack of frequent posts recently. Things have been a little crazy over here, but I have a few things in mind I’d like to share with you. One of them being Kesha’s “Praying.” The whole Rainbow album is hands down – fantastic. But there is something extremely special about this song in particular. “Praying” was released in July, and I’ve been meaning to blog about it for a bit. The first time I heard it, I got chills and started crying. I’ve yet to listen to it, without tears coming to my eyes.My top adjective to describe this song? Powerful. Kesha is a powerful force, as a human, with her art, with her strength. I keep thinking about the metaphor of a Phoenix rising from the ashes. But really…Here we have this woman who has been through the ringer, and a lot of it in the public eye. I read an interview the other day where she talked about her time in in-patient rehab for her eating disorder, and how her time with the piano when she worked on Rainbow, she kept singing it to herself to get her through. I know music has an entertainment value, but it’s also an extremely influential tool in spreading your message. It’s amazing that someone who could’ve let her first single in years be fueled with rage and hate – yet…I think this is a song of grace. This woman has found peace. Can you hear the honesty in her voice? Do you hear the vulnerability? Because I think it’s all there. But I also think this is someone who has been through hell (as the lyrics referenced,) and has come out on the other side…though all of our experiences shape us as people, she seems to have evolved and come out on top despite the ultimate attempts to drag her to to the bottom. “We both know all the truth I could tell” Kesha sings. Light has been shed on parts of her battle, but I’m sure there are countless details we will never know. I just really believe in the raw authenticity of this song. It’s like an anthem – an anthem for those who have struggled with all kinds of traumatic experiences. Abusive relationships, mental illness, assault, the crappy cards we get dealt in life sometimes. I just think the message here can really resonate with listeners, and I have so much respect for Kesha for using her voice, her unmistakable talent to create this. In a time when others create “revenge” songs. Here we have this woman speaking her truth, and she’s doing it with poise. This song in itself shows such an evolution from the artist who brought us “Tik Tok.” When I think of Kesha, and I think of her art, her strength, her courage, her ability to be so real I just feel so proud of her. That probably sounds weird coming from someone who doesn’t personally know her, but she’s shared enough of her story with us to know that she’s come out on the other side of a very dark time, and she is glowing.

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Listen to This: Say You Won’t Let Go

Driving home from work on Monday, I heard this song on the radio, and I was immediately intrigued. The lyrics are so vulnerable, and raw. Musically it’s beautiful, and of course I’m a sucker for an accent (no shame in admitting that.) I sent the song to a friend that night, and they sent me a YouTube video from the X-Factor in which James Arthur won in 2012. I can’t believe I’m just hearing him now, and I’ve missed out on a few years of getting to hear such a great voice. Upon a Google search you can see that there was much controversy surrounding his lyrics and musical choices in the years following the X-Factor win, but hopefully this fabulous single from his album Back From the Edge shows a different direction he’s taking with his music. I mean, I’m well aware I’m a sap and I’m all for a beautiful declaration of love, but how can you not melt at these words?

I met you in the dark, you lit me up
You made me feel as though I was enough
We danced the night away, we drank too much
I held your hair back when
You were throwing up
Then you smiled over your shoulder
For a minute, I was stone-cold sober
I pulled you closer to my chest
And you asked me to stay over
I said, I already told ya
I think that you should get some rest
I knew I loved you then
 
Anyway, here’s wishing much success for this artist and more from where this beautiful song came from. If you haven’t heard this song yet, check it out:
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Meg Says Read This: Extraordinary Means

23149128Robyn Schneider has done it again. She finds this beautiful way of telling a story that involves grief, love, friendship and the roller coaster of life and adolescence all rolled into one. I was blown away a few years ago when I read The Beginning of Everything (so of course when I spotted it on a shelf in a visit to Powell’s last year I broke my own rule of  not buying anymore books to add it to my collection.) I was absolutely thrilled when I saw she’d come out with a new novel, Extraordinary Means – I may have even been the first person to check it out from the library.

So more about what Extraordinary Means is actually about. Seventeen year old Lane has been sent to special school, kind of like a boarding school, kind of like a summer camp – except here there is one link that bonds all the students together, and it’s not s’mores and kumbaya. All the kids at Latham have TB, albeit different strains so different levels of the way this diagnosis takes its toll on their bodies. On their good days the students might seem like normal teenagers, but whether it’s a fitful night of coughing that results in bloody pillowcases, or just the lack of energy and dark circles around their eyes – these kids are no longer able to lead something similar to their pre-TB lives. Away from their family and friends, sports and activities with no cure in sight their futures are uncertain.

Although what they considered “normal” lives are disrupted, and they can’t even continue a regular study path of school work – Lane and his new found friends have found a way to make the most of their time, and add some fun to their days. Who would have thought he’d find a familiar face at Latham? But why does this person seem to be so cold towards him? Even with a rocky start Lane will soon have new relationships develop, friendships evolve, and a spark of romance. The scary thing is no one ever knows how much time they have left – but Lane and his friends are cramming a lot of life in their days. Extraordinary Means is a heartwarming story that’s a reminder of the frailty of life, and the power of friendships in any circumstance in life. Schneider has shown us once again what a gift she has to leave such an impressionable story on the hearts of her readers.

(Image from Goodreads.)