Read: Boy Erased

Boy Erased by Garrard Conley

I didn’t know this was turned to a movie prior to reading it. Didn’t know nothing about Nicole Kidman. Nothing. Which is a good thing because everything was left to imagination and getting right into the characters themselves.

There were many insightful quotes. I wouldn’t know where to begin. I’ll try to post some of my favorite quotes another day since I don’t have my Kindle with me and I’m too lazy to check on my synced notes on Amazon or Goodreads.

Of course, highly recommended. I could resonate with the author especially on the religion bit. I spent the bulk of my teenaged years in a Baptist church. The church, youth fellowship and everything else was perfect. There wasn’t anything superficial nor hypocritical about it. Put that aside, the whole idea of Christianity and religion and how it represents themselves to determine our sexuality is beyond my reach.

That is all. Be who you want to be. Be who you really are.

Tomorrow I’m facing an uphill battle. It’s the end of an era. And I’ll be moving on to something even more challenging, and that – is my destiny.

[2018] May The Best Book Win!

Over the past week, posts on my Facebook groups has been filled with hashtags #2018fav6, #2018fav9, you get the idea. I didn’t participate because it would be too hard to pick 6! But then along came a true genius who cooked up a fed-up post, asking us to share our least favorite books of the year. Needless to say I jumped in because that was super easy for me. I even thanked her for that!

Back to May The Best Book Win!

Here are my favorite books of the year. Some genres are intertwined (supposed to, for example, some memoirs are of war and history but I didn’t categorize them under that genre). So to get around that, I compartmentalized them under the genre intended by the author or publisher (“it’s a memoir about war and history, therefore it’s a memoir”).

Here’s the list! For a brief version click here.

Best in Memoirs, Autobiographies

Tie!

I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High, by Tony Danza

&

She’s Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Best in Biographies

In Extremis: The Life and Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum

Best in Current Affairs, War, History

Fire And Fury, by Michael Wolff 

Best in Business

Bad Blood: Secrets & Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

Best in LGBTQIA

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family, by Amy Ellis Nutt

Best in True Crime

Mossad: The Greatest Missions of The Israeli Secret Service, by Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal

Best in Fiction

房思琪的初戀樂園, 林奕含 著 
Fang Si-Chi’s First Love Paradise by  Lin Yi-Han

You’ve reached the end of this post and the year – Thank you for reading my posts (or this blog). I hope you’ve found what you were looking for. Keep reading, stay foolish!

Read: I’m Still Working On It

I’m Still Working On It by Kevin Zalinsky

I dove into this book expecting some combat action, but there were none. Thankfully there were none, because this book prevailed in many other aspects – anecdotes on growing up gay, a brother who committed suicide, and the many stories that entwined humor with pain and loss. It was a book that would make you laugh at one page and cry the next, that’s how good it was. Kevin Zalinsky isn’t a famous person, many won’t know about him nor his book. But in spite of all these ‘book world clichés’, I am so glad I stumbled upon this book. Two thumbs up. I’d read it again someday.

Read: The 57 Bus

*Spoiler Alert*

I was 60% through when I realized that this book wasn’t so much about racism but questionable hate. In fact, it wasn’t even about hate, not a fair bit. It was about a stupid 16yo kid. All 16yo kids are stupid, right? Did you have stupid thoughts as a teen, as a 16yo? If you had, this book is for you. So, yes, this book is one half of a kid who did a very stupid thing. And like many of us, he had real dumb friends.

The introduction of the book seemed misleading to had misled me, as I thought it was a book about injustice – something along the lines of George Zimmerman vs. Trayvon Martin. Like (this book, not in reference to Trayvon), a black kid did something stupid at the wrong place, wrong time, wrong everything. And the crime? He did it to a white kid. I thought it was about that. 

The introduction to the book said it all. Should I type it all out?

Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one.

(excerpt from the book’s foreword)

Let me rewrite that for you, author of the book:

Sasha, who identifies as agender, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, like every other idiotic typical 16yo, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one.

Or this, 

Sasha, who identifies as agender, attended a different school from Richard, who comes across as yet another rowdy smartass. Both of them [sic] live in the same town.

So back to my post…

If you’ve read this – Do you think this would have been written into a book if Richard was white? Or written-off the face of history because he wasn’t black anyway?

Better, leave out their backgrounds because this whole story has nothing to do with middle or lower class. A white or brown or yellow kid can be easily egged on by other kids. The kid doesn’t have to be introduced this early as a kid who comes from “da hood”:

If you haven’t read this book – I am sorry. I believe I’ve ruined it for you. But all the more reason to pick it up and read for yourself, amirite?

If a white kid had done this to Sasha, case closed. “It was just a stupid prank,” – some’d say. Here’s how it’d go: White boy sent to juvie, two years or less on good behavior, end of story. Sasha moves on to MIT and no book deal necessary. This wasn’t anywhere close to Gwen Araujo. The prosecutor would argue (on behalf of the white Richard) that it was a stupid prank. There’s some hate but the white Richard wasn’t thinking clearly. And add, “This isn’t anywhere close to the Gwen Araujo case. This kid has a future. Let’s help him.”

But Richard wasn’t white. The court believed that he had to be tried as an adult. The book did not explicitly maneuver to that sensitive topic (e.g. it’s a black on white hate crime). But I bet you if you Googled it, there are accounts of that. 

Moving on –

I’ve heard about Restorative Justice but this was the first book that took me deeper into it. Context, origin. One star for that.

But… This book should’ve just remained as a news article. I didn’t get much out of this book, unlike The Meaning of Matthew, which left me lost in thoughts. It still does now. The perpetrators weren’t even black and still, it nailed it

This book, on Sasha’s part, while a decent one on barely scratched the surface of gender identity, namely agender and genderqueer (and tiny bits of LGBTQIA in general), didn’t delve any further other than Sasha was agender, had compassionate parents, had friends who didn’t identify as cisgender. Last but not least, “Black or white, the law is the law, juvie or not, let’s try him as an adult,” period.

As for Richard’s part, the “black teen”? Richard is paying for his crime by sitting in a juvie hall for five years for a stupid, dimwitted crime, and there’s no way around that – he has to serve his time. After all, he freakin’ set another human being’s skirt on fire because that human being wasn’t “dressed normally”. My own quote unquote.

The highlight of the book? Those two letters written by Richard which was finally read by Sasha and their family after, what, 14 months? That is what should be turned into a book. The inner bullshit of the “justice system”. 

This book wasn’t about Richard being black, or Sasha being white. It wasn’t about hate, nor discrimination.

It was about stupidity and ignorance at its purest forms, like coca plants before the drugmakers harvest them, churning them into cocaine.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. Just stick to Google and find the article by New York Times (here you go, and you’re welcome), and you’re good to move on to other LGBTQIA reads. 

p.s. After starring the book (Amazon. Not on Goodreads yet), I scrambled to see if there were others who’d done the same. I mean, this book did get a lot of five stars. So yeah I stumbled upon another reader who thought the article idea would’ve been better. Thanks. One’s better than nothing.