This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel

frankel, laurie - this is how it always is ( thumbs_up ) Even in this modern day in age, there are still many taboo subjects our society is working to normalize. This story delves into the subject of transgender identification.

The mother in the family this story is centered on had 4 boys already, and had been doing all the superstitious acts she could so that she could have a girl as her fifth child. Instead came a male baby body, and they called him Claude.

Growing up, Claude knew he preferred feminine clothes and items when compared to their male or even neutral counterparts. He begged to wear dresses and heels, etc. Before he was even preteen, he decided he wanted to be known as a girl.

The family moved to protect Claude’s secret, but in their new town, the secret eventually got out as well. Large secrets don’t usually stay secret no matter where you are. Claude, whose name had now become Poppy, goes through a stressful coming out stage. Poppy also takes a trip to Thailand which is known for its high percentage of transgender population.

I like the topic this book covers as it is becoming more and more prevalent in our current time. Also, it does a great job of displaying the highly compassionate side that most people have, while not hiding the cruelties people will commit out of fear.

The Nix by Nathan Hill

hill-nathan-the-nix( thumbs_side ) Unfortunately, I’m sure part of the reason I am not giving this book a thumbs up is because I expected too much of it. There were raving reviews everywhere on the internet. It seems whenever a book describes the most common, modern symptoms of depression, everyone gets super excited. Okay, that is simplifying it a bit, but I really didn’t find as much substance and engaging qualities to this book as I thought I would. Mostly, it was just sad.

Yes, there was a slightly interesting twist at the end. Yes, the writing style wasn’t too bad. But humanity was portrayed in such a disgusting light; and in my opinion, crossing the border of being realistic.

The historical references and cruelty related to them seemed real enough, but the game-until-I-die characters were far from the norm. Gaming is a big part of our society and is a huge chunk of our consumerism, but way less people end up in the hospital from extreme gaming than those from shark bites. Way less people “ruin” their lives from gaming addiction than the majority of well-known addictions. Or… I could be wrong? Maybe it is just not studied yet. But in addition, there is a part about a student being able to cheat her whole way through college as well as get a professor fired over calling her “not smart”. This is also way over the top.

I was not spell-bound by this story the way other reviewers had been. It’s not that it’s bad, I just wouldn’t highly recommend.

Loud in the House of Myself by Stacy Pershall

pershall-stacy-loud-in-the-house-of-myself( thumbs_up ) You know how I read a lot of mental illness memoirs, well this is yet another. This chick has persevered through severe bipolar disorder mixed with self-harm, addiction, and eating disorder symptoms. Oh wait, and her doctors think she is a borderline too? Geez.

This chronicles her struggles growing up, until she finally discovers the only drug that has given her relief yet: Lamictal. Like others with her condition, she goes through cycles – some of which destroy anything good and substantial she has built in her life.

Soon she finds another outlet through which she can relieve stress: tattoos. Combining her body issues and desire to cause pain to herself, tattoos also help her record the stories and moments she doesn’t want to forget. Whatever works, right?

This is a great story, and I especially liked hearing that the author no longer even has mirrors in her house. I know no one that would go to this extreme, but I love that she values her health so much that she would. I very much admire Pershall.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

yoon-nicole-everything-everything( thumbs_side ) The concept for this book is semi-interesting, but I downloaded the Audible book not knowing it was a teen book. So, like most teen-oriented books, it is a tad on the over-zealous, romantic-about-life side.

The main character, Maddy, has lived the majority of her life sheltered inside her own sterilized house. Her mom takes care of her, as she diagnosed her with that classic “I’m allergic to everything in life” disease.

A new boy moves next door that makes Maddy feel things she has never felt before. It has her question the boundaries of life and the experiences she is missing out on. She begins to test her luck with leaving the fortress her mother made for her.

Soon she finds that is not her health, but her mother’s health, that has suspended Maddy’s life this whole time. Trauma and grief can impair one’s mind and impose unnecessary fear.

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

ellison-ralph-invisible-man( thumbs_up ) There is a reason why this book is still considered amazing past it’s time, and has caused such controversy that it is banned from some schools’ curriculum.  Yes, it is fiction – but one could argue it is historical fiction as many of the tales from the narrator’s life are based on realistic events and social injustices that occurred at those areas in history.

This is a book about racial injustice – to the extreme. The writing is advanced and beautiful. The author is more than impressive in his ability to delve into one side of deeply debated topics.

This is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. If you didn’t catch it when it was free on Audible – sucks for you!

Girl Walks Out of a Bar by Lisa F. Smith

smith-lisa-girl-walks-out-of-a-bar( thumbs_up ) This is a powerful book. It sheds more light on how lonely and isolating addiction is, even though it’s usually one’s social influences that aid in someone developing the disease.

Smith was surrounded by drinking while growing up, as well as in her adult years. She also had a “predisposition”. This develops into full-blown alcoholism, and soon a coke problem too. She becomes a successful lawyer but this doesn’t quell her substance abuse.

Smith cleverly intertwines comedy when telling her story. She didn’t have to hit rock bottom to know she finally needed help – she just came to a realization after experiencing many panic attacks and health issues due to her lifestyle. This is a solid memoir.

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

melton-glennon-doyle-love-warrior( thumbs_up ) This story touches on the struggles of being a woman, fighting addiction, and maintaining a rocky marriage. This is a memoir about a woman finally finding herself. She has been playing by society’s rules her whole life; but she discovers the key to true happiness lies in her making her own rules.

The author writes this narrative elegantly, which is more important than any of the content (in my opinion). There is a good reason this is recommended by Oprah: It’s MFing good.

My only critique is that it can be a little too hippy dippy sounding at the very end – but I just get turned off by that type of language. It is a very inspiring book.