Listening to the Crawdads Sing Above the Panic

(My reading room will be my retreat during this pandemic.)

Like many of you out there, I am anxious and quite nervous about what we will face as a nation in the next couple of months. Now is the time to definitely gather what we need. By this time, hopefully you all got enough medicine and food to last for the next few weeks. Although I fully understand the severity of the situation, I have to be honest and admit that I felt extreme melancholy following the Smithsonian’s wise decision to close all of their museums. When the governor of Maryland implemented an executive order closing all of the gyms I just knew I was going to go crazy consumed with cabin fever. I was also reckoning with the fact that I was going to have to keep my five year old entertained for at least the next couple of weeks. Yet, these small hiccups are nothing compared to the many blessings that surround my situation. Thus far my family is healthy and I have a job that will still pay me while we are home.To help keep my mind in a zen state, I plan on spending the few quite minutes I will have in my reading room. It was the first room I personally renovated when we moved into our 100 year old house. As soon as I saw it, I loudly proclaimed it “Mine” and informed all that it would be mine despite any future additions that would one day be added to my family. .

This week’s book will keep me company in my reading room and help get my mind off of the uncertainty outside. It came highly recommended by my sister and close friend. They both had one sole complaint and that was that it eventually had to end. Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens is a book about Kya, known to many as “The Marsh Girl.” She lives in the backwoods secluded swamps of North Carolina in the 1960’s. Although there are many wild tales running through the town as to how she came to live such a secluded life, in actuality, she was abandoned by every member of her family who was driven away by her abusive and alcoholic father. Despite all the odds and the constant evasion of the local truant and child and welfare officer, she with the help of the ecological wonders of the swamp raises herself. She lives a simplistic and meager life without electricity and running water. There are many times where she is unsure where her next meal will come from and depends upon a local African American gas station attendant for hand me down clothing, sometimes food, and fatherly comfort. Her life of solitude; however, is interrupted when she meets two young men who both are intrigued by her and seek her company to fill an inner yearning and emptiness that haunt them both. The book opens with the death of one of the suitors with Kya as the main suspect. The book jumps back through time as the readers work to unravel this coming of age, love, and tale of who done it.

I am half way through. The author’s careful depiction of life in Kya’s world has me once again homesick for Florida. I keep envisioning my rides through the Everglades, specifically Shark Valley. It is a 14 mile bike trail right through the Everglades where you come face to face with alligators. It’s really cool and worth a visit if you are ever in South Florida. Speak to you soon! Be safe and we will get through this 🙂

Review of Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child

Sorry I have not published a post in a while, but school is back in session and a few major developments in my professional life have kept me pretty busy but for the good. Yet, no matter how busy I am, I always try to still make time to curl up even for just five minutes at a time with a good book. I was heartbroken when I heard the news of Toni Morrison’s passing . I loved her novels because they always whisked me away to another era in U.S. history and helped me get as close as I can bear to aspects of the Black American experience. The other day I was listening to an old NPR Fresh Air interview with Morrison where she read a passage from her last novel God Help the Child and the few lines she read were so intriguing that I immediately made a detour to the closest bookstore to pick up a copy. The novel begins with Sweetness explaining the shocker, horror, and shame she felt when her daughter Lula Ann was born. Both Sweetness and her husband Louis are exceptionally light skinned and most likely members of the Blue Vein Society. In the maternity ward, she momentarily contemplates smothering the baby rather that have her dark skin body and lips press against her breast to nurse. In the end, she decides to spare her life but not her feelings. She refrains from as much physical contact as she can with her daughter through the most pivotal years in a child’s development. She provides her with the financial necessities in life but fails to provide her any outward displays of affection and emotional intimacy. Her husband, still convinced that she cheated, leaves her in protest to having to raise a dark- skinned child.

Nevertheless, Lula Ann grows up to be gorgeous and successful. Her onyx skin becomes an “exotic” feature that helps her win lovers from all nationalities and opens doors for her in the cosmetic industry. It appears that she has triumphed in the end over the taunts about her skin hue from her peers and her mother’s emotional neglect. She has proven to everyone and herself that she can certainly find the physical intimacy her mother deprived her of from almost anyone she chooses. Yet, as you continue reading, you later realize that she is still the same little insecure , skinny, dark-skinned, knobbly kneed, girl of her past and, Lula Ann begins to panic when a love loss brings this insecurity to the emotional and physical forefront.

Although Lula Ann’s story is the focus of the book, all of the characters she encounters or pursues has their own story and each one is mired in a childhood pain or tragedy that has attached to them like a cancer and metastasized over the years into adulthood. I have to warn you that these tragedies are dark and unsettling but they were for me a constant reminder of the inability for any of us to ever free ourselves of our positive or negative childhood experiences. I was a little disappointed by the fact that with the exception of Sweetness’ story, the setting for the majority of God Help the Child takes place in modern day. Sweetness’ story was very compelling and left me with an insatiable desire to learn more about her, but maybe that was the point Morrison was trying to make. As a society we shine the light and focus on the perpetrators of crimes against children. We are obsessed with wanting to know why anyone could hurt or neglect children. Rarely do the children who are victimized get the opportunity to share their story and heal. We don’t care to know how they will cope into adulthood and the type of person they will become. Reading this novel left me like many of the characters also asking myself, ” Are my childhood experiences carrying me through life or am I carrying them?” If my childhood experiences are carrying me, “Are they tired, weary, and ready to rest?” Rest in peace Queen Morrison. Thank you for blessing us with your courage to tell the stories that no one else bothered to tell.

Review of Lalita Tamedy’s Red River and a History Lesson on the Difference between a Riot and a Massacre

Reconstruction has always been an era in U.S. History that has intrigued me the most. For a period to have held the most promise for the United States to work towards living up to the principles and ideologies espoused by its early designers, it is also the darkest period in U.S. history which is given the least amount of time for analysis in most U.S. schools. I speak from experience, for it was the smallest chapter in my 11th grade U.S. History textbook and was conveniently skipped by my much esteemed U.S. History teacher who confidently told me that I wouldn’t amount to much 😉

Since I learned about it in college, I continue to devour any additional information I can obtain on the subject whether it’s held in a textbook, historical novel, film, or piece of art.

I was first introduced to Lalita Tamedy through Cane River, her first breakthrough novel published almost twenty years ago. She held a pretty successful career in corporate America but left it to pursue a literary career writing historical fiction. Cane River primarily was based upon a story of the different generations of the women in her family in antebellum Louisiana. This breakthrough novel had many of us, including myself, rummaging through my family’s old photographs and documents to reconstruct my own history. I started this blog decades after I first read it and I have to eventually write a review because it still remains my all time favorite book.

Red River picks up after Cane River in Louisiana during Reconstruction. Unlike Cane River, the men of her family are the primary subject of this story. The book begins when some of the men of Colfax decide to defend the local courthouse. Members of the Lost Cause have refused to acknowledge recent election results in which Freedmen were able to cast their ballot for the first time. The men of the town have decided to force open the doors of the courthouse and defend their newly elected sheriff who just so happens to be a carpetbagger with little to no roots in Louisiana. It is clear throughout the entire novel, that their willingness to risk their life is not on behalf of the new sheriff but for the defense of their rights as American citizens and as men, and their children’s dreams.

Harper’s Ferry 1867 publication. “The First Vote.”

They wait in vain for reinforcements from the federal government and although they put up a valiant effort, are soon defeated after white supremacists from outside towns and parishes with weaponry used in the Civil War force the men to surrender. The author’s great great grandfather participated in defending the courthouse and was able to get out alive. However, that was not the case for most. Those who surrendered were systematically tortured and murdered. According to Tamedy, over 150 African American men were killed for simply asserting their rights as American citizens. Prominent historian Eric Foner labeled this day “one of the most bloodiest acts of carnage” in Reconstruction.

The first half of the book details the massacre and Tamdey’s ability to wisk you away to that night amid the same emotions that permeated the air in 1873 is noteworthy. I literally couldn’t put the book down and I loved that as I read I could feel the fear, resolve, helplessness, and hopefulness the men experienced at the court house. I also enjoyed her window into the emotions the women felt, for it reminds her readers that the defense of this courthouse was based on the courage of both the men and women of the town. Unfortunately, it took me a while to finish the second half where she detailed the life of her great grandfather’s children. Their fight to build a school and assume their positions as leaders in the community among stories of who married whom was hard to maintain my interests after the massacre and it felt at one point like the story was dragging.

However, I will say that this book is worth a read. It taught me the difference between a massacre and a riot. Although these men valiantly fought back, the level of unjust and unwarranted cruelty exemplified by the white supremacists of Louisiana can not be defined but as a massacre. It has led me to start reevaluating how I will refer to late 19th and 20th century race riots this coming school year. The sign below is the only marker that exists today where the newly freedmen of Colfax chose to sacrifice everything for their constitutional rights. Their story incenses me today when I hear Trump supporters attempt to define what patriotism looks like and who can only be labeled as true patriots. The “150 Negroes” who died in Colfax on Easter Sunday 1873 are the prototype of true patriots.

This marker is a disgrace. There is no mention of the bravery of the 150 “Negroes” referenced in the sign or their cause.

Toni Morrison’s “Home” Forced me to Remember Home.

Toni Morrison portrait at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

Final Exams, teacher end of the year evaluations, and a community historic preservation project I am currently spearheading has me wishing lately that there were 48 hours to a day. As a result, I have not had time to read as much as I normally would but that is expected this time of the year and I know that rest and relaxation are only eleven days away! I did manage to squeeze in, Home, a novel last week by the queen Toni Morrison.

Home revolves around the story of Frank Money, a Korean War veteran and modern day African American Odysseus wandering through the South trying to find his way back home to Georgia following the war. However, unlike Odysseus, the only gods he encounters are the gods of the American South in the 1950s: Segregation, Poverty, and White Supremacy. I love Morrison’s subject matter and her ability to create characters and settings that remind me of places, family members, and experiences I have and have never been nor had. She is able to recount the African American experience in such vivid and emotional details with her choice of words and an uncanny ability to convey emotion that she always strikes a cord with me. I love her stories for their depth and development but I love them even more, because I feel that she is telling my story and my mother’s, father’s, grandmother’s, and great great grandfather’s story in this country. I feel the ability to appreciate and connect with her stories because the characters and their experiences flow through my very veins.

Picture of African American soldiers during the Korean War from americanradioworks.publicradio.org

The story begins with Frank Money daring to return to Lotus, Georgia a place with few opportunities with the intent of finding his sister Cee who he heard was in grave trouble. Along the way, he is plagued with some pretty horrific flashbacks from his tour of duty in Korea that often curbs his ability to decipher reality. In the end, you finally get a better idea of what part of his flashbacks were rooted in true past events or fabricated to help him deal with his past sins. I also really enjoyed the tender but despondent chapters where Frank and Cee reminisce about about their relationship. Frank was Cee’s valiant protector and Cee’s innocence and naivete gave Frank’s life purpose even during childhood.

Gordon Parks
Segregation Story Series

However, it was the women who come to Cee’s aide when she was horrifically violated in a incident that too closely mirrored the real actions of James Marion Simms, the “father of gynecology” that I loved the most in this story. Their determination, dedication, solidarity, and strength warmed my heart and made me pick up my phone to check on my 80 something year old aunt. Everyone with a female loved one from that era can find comfort and nostalgia in the way they called on the old remedies that would earn the ridicule of modern day doctors but were the only element of salvation poor African American women in the South could depend on to save or treat their children and spouses.

Gordon Parks, Untitled
Taken in 1950 in Ft Scott, Kansas

As you can see from the pictures above, I am currently trapped in a Gordon Parks vibe. However, looking at these photos from the 1950s really made me feel like I was in Lotus, Georgia while I followed Cee and Frank as they learned to come to terms with their past and become the masters of their own destinies and how they saw their own purpose in this world. Home forces to me to remember home and was definitely worth a read.

Respect and Reverence for “A Gathering of Old Men”: a Tale of Redemption

I am thoroughly convinced that in my past life I roamed the streets of New Orleans or Sao Paulo adorned in bright colors ,dancing carefree to Rag time jazz, or complex Samba beats. I have not yet had the pleasure of traveling to Brazil but I swear when I visited New Orleans I felt I had been there before and was being welcomed home. I know that both places have been romanticized and are not paradises without their share of economic and racial problems. However, New Orleans has been one of the only places where I felt completely enveloped and surrounded by historic imprints of the African American culture. No one can visit New Orleans without acknowledging the “swag” its been blessed with by its African and African American residents throughout the centuries.

For that reason, I am naturally drawn to any work of literature created by Ernest J. Gaines. I love his storytelling and plots. But above all, I appreciate the respect he shows each of his characters and his ability to tell a story and simultaneously open windows to the rural African African American Louisiana culture. The story centers around a murder of a white landowner with a reputation for harassing the local African American farming community by a number of potential elderly African American men living on and near the farm. All of the men claimed to have committed the murder, but it is apparent only one could have actually carried out the crime.

Ernest J. Gaines

Each of the men have a backstory and I love the fact that Gaines provides them all with an opportunity to share their life’s accomplishments and regrets in Jim Crow Louisiana. Each story is historically invaluable because it provides readers unfamiliar with Louisiana or a basic history of the South with an understanding of how the South stole all of the men’s ability to be men because of the color of their skin. This opportunity is their last opportunity for redemption for some life changing event in which they failed or lacked the courage to stand against Jim Crow. I absolutely loved this book and felt that any of the past male members of my family coming of age in the Jim Crow South could have been one of the characters in this book. This book would also be a great teaching or discussion tool for young men of color today trying to figure out how to muster the courage to stand straight in an era of income inequality, mass incarceration, over policing of African American communities, and police brutality.

Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Ashes: The Seeds of America Trilogy.”

Image result for laurie halse anderson ashes

Everyone who knows me knows that I am an absolute history nerd. I live, eat, sleep, and breathe history and always have.  I particularly love learning and sharing the history of people who have traditionally been silenced and marginalized.  However, there was always one era in history that I had absolutely no interest in learning.  I would purposefully put my head down in silent protest whenever it was the topic of discussion by my 11th grade U.S. History. I absolutely hated learning about the American Revolution. It had always been presented to me as a period  where Black people were completely absent or simply sitting around and twirling their thumbs while white patriots and Englishmen battled it out for control of the 13 colonies.  It was not until graduate school  when I learned that could not be farther from the truth.

In fact, not only were enslaved men and women present at almost every major battle of the Revolutionary War, slavery and Black participation  was a major influence right down to a section of the original draft of the Declaration of Independence blaming King George for the  colonists’ dependence upon slavery. Thus, I was excited when I heard about Anderson’s  Ashes, a young adult historical fiction novel about Isabel, a young black woman (which almost made me do a dance) on a quest to find her developmentally challenged sister Ruth who had been sold away. She is accompanied by Curzon, a young runaway who initially cast his lot with the British as a volunteer soldier seeking his freedom only to be tricked and suffer detrimental consequences and later join the Patriots.

The story highlights the challenges, hopes, fears, expectations, choices, and overall experiences of Blacks during the Revolutionary period, particularly Black women. Isabel, the main character, is the quintessential heroine. I appreciate the author’s ability to show her strength and vulnerability. The Revolutionary era was a time of great uncertainty and I never felt Anderson, who is white, tried to simply lump Isabel and Ruth’s entire experience with one completely identical to their white female counterparts.  At no point could her readers forget that every trial Isabel was enduring was a result of the fact that she was  Black, a runaway, and a woman. Ashes was an  interesting story rooted in solid historical research and I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I have to admit, I was once again disappointed with the ending. I hate to spoil the story for those who have not read it, but Anderson leaves her tale on a very optimistic and naive outlook. Isabel and her family step into a new country believing it will embody the  Enlightenment ideals white, Black, free, and enslaved patriots fought for. I acknowledge the fact that many Blacks who  fought in the war on the side of the Patriots held the very same optimism. Sadly, my knowledge of the Black experience  in early American History prevents me from being able to share such a hopeful ending. The new country  missed its opportunity to completely abolish slavery and instead cemented  an inhumane institution in the very legal documents that define our country today. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book and will actually use it as a teaching tool in my high school African American class.

By the way, I guess this might be a great time to share the fact that I was nominated for an Outstanding Teacher Award by my local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I do not believe I have a chance of winning; however,  I am honored to have been nominated. I will find out later this month if I won 🙂

Later Gators!

 

 

 

Going Back in Time with Auntie Zora: A Review of Barracoon by Zora Neal Hurston

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The Harlem Renaissance has always fascinated since childhood. Every characteristic of this era intrigues me from the artwork, to the literary accomplishments, to the birth of jazz which happens to be my favorite genre of music. This was also a period of internal migration on levels never before seen in U.S. History where  from 1916-1970 over six million African Americans escaped a racist and oppressive South and moved north carrying with them their rich cultural heritage and hopes for a better life. Life influences art and with memories of life in the South still fresh in their minds, Great Migrationers channeled their experiences through their art.  Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Alain Locke, and Countee Cullen are household names. Unfortunately, female authors are less known. Zora Neal Hurston is the exception. Their Eyes Were Watching God,  her most popularly known work of fiction, was made into a movie for television starring Halle Berry. Yet Hurston was not solely a fiction writer and in fact was a successful anthropologist who studied cultures from the African diaspora.   

Image result for barracoon

Barraccoon,  was an example of her anthropological research that was completed well before her death but was just recently published. Barraccon is the story of a Cudjo Lewis an ex-slave living in Alabama in 1927. Over a period of weeks, Hurston works to gain his trust so that she could capture the story of his teenage years in West Africa, kidnapping by Dahomey female warriors, brief period of enslavement in the United States on the cusp of the Civil War, and his navigation as a freeman trying to protect his family after slavery in a hostile South. Hurston’s methods to gain Lewis’ trust is almost as intriguing as the events of his life and left me with a new appreciation for how to treat our elders and their stories with patience, respect,  and care. This woman has and always will have my respect for effort to capture our history and culture in fictional or academic scholarship. Definitely worth a read and gave me pleasure to add it to the shelves in my  home library.

Review of Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing

IMG_2602 (1)Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward had been on my radar for some time since she was was awarded the National Book Award for Best Fiction last year. Once again, I lucked out and was able to tap into my connections at my high school to secure a free hardback copy. I only had the book in my possession for four days and believed that I could read it over the course of two weeks. Unfortunately, I misjudged and  am currently suffering from a book induced hangover. I stayed up all night until I finished it, because right when I thought that I had the book figured out and could predict at least the course Ward was trying to steer me, I was thrown for a loop. I could not put the book down until I was able to gain my bearings and unfortunately, that did not happen until the crack of dawn the next morning.

Nevertheless, I absolutely loved this book. I have not been moved to tears in a while, but I must say that Sing, Unburied, Sing broke my dry spell. The story is told from three different perspectives. The third did not present itself until the middle of the book when I was ready to go to sleep and thus is the reason why I currently have bags under my eyes. It tells the story of the truest definition of a dysfunctional rural Mississippi family. Leonie, is a drug- addicted self-centered and abusive mother to her teenage son , Jojo  and  her three year old daughter Kayla. She spends half of the book wrestling  with feelings of  jealousy of her children’s brother and sisterly bond, constant reminders of her emotional failures as a mother, and her desire to be free of her responsibilities and live a care free life no matter how self-destructive that might be. Her children’s father is white, also a drug addict, and is serving a three year sentence in prison.  Against the wishes of her father  and dying mother, she rounds up her children and takes a road trip with her friend Misty to pick up her children’s father when he is released from prison. From the start, JoJo  does not want to leave the confines of his grandparent’s farm. Although poverty robs him of materialistic items, he describes life on the farm as one enriched by  the love from his grandmother, wisdom of his aging grandfather, and comfort of the animals.   He does not trust his mother and has good reason not to, for while on the trip, not only does she care little to provide the basic necessities for her children such as food , medicine when Kayla takes sick, or compassion when JoJo is wrongfully handcuffed and taunted by a cop but it soon becomes apparent at least to JoJo that his mother has planned  this trip to obtain drugs to sell along the way.

Ward had me hooked with this story line alone, but  using “Riv,” Jojo’s grandfather to  seamlessly intertwine their current stories with a horrific tale that occurred in a brutal and sadistic racist Mississippi of the 1930s, and revealing that part of the reason JoJo’s mother  is in such a dark place might be the result of a violent racist incident that happened in the racist Mississippi of the 21st century  elevated the story to another level. On top of that, just like Toni Morrison, she takes the opportunity to add a layer of the supernatural in which the characters are all haunted by the spirits of strong young black men with promise that died at the hands of white supremacy.

I have to warn you that there is a lot of symbolism in this book. There were times that I wanted to be free of the metaphors and alliterations and just jump to the next major turn of events. Needless to say, this was a true work of art in the exploration of want, frustration, the desire for love, and freedom in a world of racism and hate. It was definitely worth a read.

Let me know what you think!

A Review of Zinzi Clemmons “What we Lose”

 

Image result for zinzi clemmons what we lose

I have to first begin by confessing that satisfying my insatiable love of books can be quite expensive at times. That nice little library fine that keeps me up at night has prevented me from obtaining many new hardcover publications for free. Thus, my heart leaped for joy when I saw many of my high school seniors walking around the school with this week’s book review What we Lose by  Zinzi Clemmons. I immediately ran down the hall in my three inch heels to my school’s fabulous senior English teacher and asked if she had an additional copy she would not mind loaning me for the weekend. To my surprise, my coworker told me that she was best friends with the author and could give me a copy for free! I really wanted to ask her if she could somehow get Zinzi to autograph it, but I did not want to push it!

What we Lose tells the story of Thandi, daughter of an African American college professor and a light skinned South African immigrant mother who works as a nurse in Philadelphia. The book highlights Thandi’s repeated struggles to explore and affirm her identity dealing with issues surrounding race or the loss of a parent. Clemmons had me hooked after the first three chapters. I felt that she was in many ways telling my life story. I fully identified with her characters repeated brush with her peer’s limited and, at times, ignorant understanding of what it means to “be, talk, look, and act Black” while coming of age. I also appreciated her raw portrayal of Thandi’s struggle to come to terms with losing her mother to breast cancer and her attempt to anesthetize herself with a relationship of convenience that eventually led to marriage and a child.  Her periodic anecdotal facts throughout the book about the current inequalities in our healthcare system and the disproportionate rate of deaths within the African American community from cancer, heart disease, and diabetes forces white suburban and black upper middle class readers who have chosen to discuss What we Lose in the confines of their comfortable suburban homes and hipster coffee shops that Thandi’s fictional experience is a reality unfairly shared by many members of the African American community.

I would like to dive more into the book, but I do not want to give away all of the details. I can only say that it is an easy read and well worth it. When you finish, you will walk away feeling that Thandi was you, or someone you knew growing up, and as adult just trying to come to terms with who you are in life.

Until next time. Peace, love, and hair grease!

 

A Review of Hunger : A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

Last month, I read Roxane Gay’s latest publication Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. I reviewed her novel An Untamed State in my last post, but her writing style, use of language, and overall ability to tell a good story left me in a sense “hungry” for more. I also caught an NPR interview with her on Fresh Air in which she discussed her latest book. She had me hooked when she read the opening lines for chapter two. “The story of my body is not a story of triumph. This is not a weight loss memoir. There will be no pictures of a thin version of me…This is not a book that will offer motivation…Mine is not a success story. Mine is simply a true story.” (4) Throughout the course of her memoir, Gaye discloses that she once weighed 577 pounds, had tried almost every celebrity fad diet known to man, and even looked to bulimia  as a means to control her weight. She offers her readers what most individuals classified as obese and whose weight often captures the unsolicited attention and  cruel comments of those they rarely know cannot. Gay chronicles the story behind why she has become a prisoner to a body  that has led her down a road of health complications and self-esteem issues. Without giving too much away, Gay suffered an unthinkable tragedy as a young woman. This tragedy was and continues to be the source of her complicated relationship with food. Those familiar with the story line in An Untamed State will easily make the connection between Gay’s real life and the life of her lead character Mireille Duval Jameson.

 

However, the power in Gay’s memoir lies in the insight she provides into the most minute and everyday details of the life of an obese person. Gay’s personal stories  often left me both speechless and shocked by my own ignorance into the experiences of many women, men, and children in our society. From the physical torture of sitting in restaurant chairs too small to comfortably fit people of larger frames to publicly dealing with obnoxious flight attendants after being forced to purchase an additional seat because you once again fit outside of the physical perimeters of the plane’s design to purchasing clothes that both fit and acknowledge a femininity that most men and women insist you have relinquished because of your weight, I could not believe that I was so oblivious to everyday privileges  I enjoyed simply because of my size. Perhaps the most eye opening discussion revolved around her details of the media trolls who resort to body shaming her instead of effectively debating Gay on her position on sexism in this country.

I am a self professed gym rat and work out religiously five days a week. As a result, there were so many instances I would shout “Fight Roxane. You can lose the weight and live a life similar to Mireille Duval Jameson” as I read the book. Then I would bring myself back to what I believe was Gay’s reason for writing her fist memoir.  As she said in the opening lines of chapter two, this was not intended to be a story of triumph or a self help book on how to loose weight. For me, Hunger was an opportunity to put myself in the shoes of an obese woman living in this country trying to maintain her self -esteem and dignity in an image and capitalistic driven society that makes it almost impossible for the obese. It also left me asking myself to what extent have I both contributed and fallen victim to such a narrow way of thinking  and how can I change it. For that, Ms. Gay, I am forever grateful and recommend everyone read and experience Hunger.