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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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I felt like I lived between the pages of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas the entire time I read it. The story infiltrated my imagination and stayed with me even when I wasn't reading and after I finished it. Even now, weeks later, the characters still resonate with me. I felt Starr Carter's pain as she watched her friend, Khalil, die and as she tried to navigate her life while trying to keep her status as the witness from becoming public. Thomas pulls the reader into Starr's life as she moves between two very different worlds highlighting the the way our life experiences taint our perception of ourselves and of others. As Starr fights with her friends and boyfriend as well as her family in the midst of a grief she hides even from herself, the reality that living two different lives never works crashes down on her and forces her to face the consequences that come with every choice she makes or avoids making. The Hate U Give is an intense, engaging, empowering, enlightening …

Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civil Life by Eric Klinenberg

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Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civil Life by Eric Klinenberg delves into the connections that form when infrastructure is designed to bring people together to support building community. Klinenberg writes in way that feels like a story unfolding that explores the decline of community by the decline of social infrastructure as well as the solutions to bring community together. Palaces for the People delves into how libraries bring people together, community gardens create not only food but fellowship, and how storm walls can be built to double as gathering places among other structures built with the people who will use them in mind. Klinenberg presents research that shows how community changes when infrastructure supports the community. He examines the myths and the realities surrounding how infrastructure succeeds and fails. Palaces for the People offers an honest assessment of infrastructure, communities,…

Culling the Herd by Edward R. Etzkorn

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Culling the Herd by Edward R. Etzkorn drew me in quickly and held me captive until the end. Etzkorn paints a picture of what happens when scientists decide to take extreme measures using science to fight what they see as the cause of the end of humanity. Culling the Herd is at times an uncomfortable book to read because Etzkorn creates a real enough world that the reader can imagine the events taking place even when they feel a bit unrealistic. His characters are a amalgam  of good and bad with even some of the worst characters seemingly having good, or at least understandable, motives, and some of the worst characters having discernible flaws creating characters that are realistic. Culling the Herd forces the reader to question their own reactions to the actions the characters choose while contemplating the role we all play in preserving and protecting the planet we call home.

Note: This review is based on a free copy I received from the author.

The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands by Nick Flynn

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As I read The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands by Nick Flynn, the word esoteric kept rising to the surface of my thoughts. Flynn's poems have a feel of peeking inside a world I'm unfamiliar with, maybe even a world I don't want to see but need to. There were moments I felt like the experiences Flynn shared in these poems lived outside a reality I could understand yet I felt compelled to keep reading, to explore the words, to see where each poem was going. The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands left me wanting to both raise my hands and sit on them to keep from raising them.


Equal Means Equal: Why the Time for an Equal Rights Amendment is Now by Jessica Neuwirth

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Equal Means Equal: Why the Time for an Equal Rights Amendment is Now by Jessica Neuwirth examines the history of the Equal Rights Amendment, why it's necessary, and several common myths regarding the U. S. Constitution and the Equal Rights Amendment including the arguments made for and against and the struggle for ratification. Neuwirth offers examples of the cases that have been brought before the cours and have been decided that highlight repeatedly that the U. S. Constitution does not protect women the same as it does men. She makes her argument with facts and quotes from court cases that demonstrate how the judicial system consistently determines that the U. S. Constitution and the amendments to the U. S. Constitution don't apply to women. She explains why and how the Equal Rights Amendment would add women to the U. S. Constitution giving women constitutionally protected equal rights. Equal Means Equal  is a short, engaging, easy to read book that demonstrates that asking …

Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems from 1965-1990 Complete by Alice Walker

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Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems from 1965-1990 Complete by Alice Walker examines life on Earth and the interactions of Earthlings, particularly human beings interaction with other Earthlings. Walker taps into emotions and attitudes that aren't always comfortable to face with an eloquence that keeps the reader riveted with anticipation even when wanting to say "not me. oh no not me." Walker creates images that transcend the moment and descriptions that take the reader deeper into a place of deep contemplation. Often a simple poem feels like it bears tremendous complexity in its simplicity and a complicated poem feels simple when one lets it settle into the heart. Her Blue Body Everything We Know calls for us to better understand the planet that gives us life. Walker reminds us there is value all around us that we often take for granted or abuse and misuse, and that there are consequences for the actions we take. Her Blue Body Everything We Know asks us t…

Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement by Janet Dewart Bell

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Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement by Janet Dewart Bell highlights how often women get written out of the collective history with this collection of mini-memoirs about women instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement. I've read many books over the past several years that have forced me to think about my history classes in a new way.  As I read these women's stories told from each woman's perspective, I found some stories easier to read than others. Some stories were emotional. Some were more analytical. All provide insight into lives I can only understand through their stories. I saw places where I related and others where I couldn't relate at all. These women's stories exemplified courage, determination, intelligence, and a willingness to work hard without seeking glory.  I wanted more. I wanted to know more about each one. I wanted each of these women to receive the recognition they deserve on a larger scale. I wante…