Book Review: You Won’t Always Be This Sad by: Sheree Fitch

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How to be fearless? Again, I read and read. Books save me.

“Let your curiosity be greater than your fear,” wrote Pema Chödrön, one of my favourite wisdom writers. “Fear not,” was the message from the faith traditions I grew up with.

But this kind of sadness IS terrifying. Don’t stay sad, stay curious, I kept telling myself. Still do.

So as I began to observe, I started to trust my mother’s promise: you won’t always be this sad.

You Won’t Always Be This Sad by: Sheree Fitch

Initial Thoughts: I read this poetry collection by Sheree Fitch a few weeks ago, and now more than ever her words resonate with me. Grief brings sadness, but there is always the promise that you will not always feel this sad with time.

Summary

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Somewhere

in the midst of this mess—must be a poem

“You won’t always be this sad,” her mother, who also lost a son, reassures her, while a close friend encourages her to pick up the pen and write it all down. Capturing her own struggles as she emerges from shock in the wake of her son’s unexpected death at age thirty-seven, author and storyteller Sheree Fitch writes lyrically and unabashedly, with deep sorrow, unexpected rage, and boundless love. She discovers that she “dwells in a thin place now,” that she has crossed a threshold only to find herself in “the quicksand that is grief.” The result is a memoir in verse of immense power and pain, a collection of moments, and a journey of resilience.

Divided into three parts, like the memorial labyrinth Fitch walks every day, You Won’t Always Be This Sad offers words that will stir the heart, inviting readers on a raw and personal odyssey through excruciating loss, astonishing gratitude, and a return to a different world with new insights, rituals, faith, and hope. Readers, bearing witness to the immeasurable depths of a mother’s love, will be forever changed. 

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The Review

You Won’t Always Be This Sad is the title of this collection of poetry, but also the words spoken by the author’s mother after her son passed away at the age of 37. Throughout the entire collection, the author shares fragments of her life as she works through her grief. The highly emotional quality of the writing draws the reader in. Although not everyone is a mother, and not everyone has lost a child, the feelings of grief expressed in the poems are universal. There is confusion, anger, hopelessness, and a never-ending search for answers.

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Book Review: Midnight Sun (Twilight #5) by: Stephenie Meyer

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My life was an unending, unchanging midnight. It must, by necessity, always be midnight for me. So how was it possible that the sun was rising now, in the middle of my midnight?

– Midnight Sun by: Stephenie Meyer

Initial Thoughts: When I was twelve, the first part of Stephenie Meyer’s draft for Midnight Sun was leaked online. After the leak, Meyer made the first 100 pages available to read on her website. I reread those 100 pages at least three times while I went through my Twilight obsession. I wanted to badly for Meyer to finish the rest of the book. Fast forward twelve years, Meyer finally finished Midnight Sun and released it for the entire world to read.

Summary

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When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.

This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?

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The Review

Edward’s point of view of the events that happened in the first Twilight book is… super bleak. It was not at all what I remembered from when I read Meyer’s draft twelve years ago. In Twilight, Bella meets Edward Cullen – an otherworldly handsome teenager with a dark secret. Her all-consuming love for him ends up putting her in danger on several occasions, but none of that matters now that she has met her dazzling vampire soulmate.

In Midnight Sun, in contrast, we see how Edward’s thoughts often take a dark turn. He constantly has to resist the call of Bella’s blood. His shame of being unable to control the monster inside him brings him to loath himself.

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Book Review: Fanfan by: Alexandre Jardin

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Initial Thoughts: Fanfan by Alexandre Jardin was one of the many books I had to read for my French literature courses in university.

Summary

1944328Alexandre Crusoé and Fanfan were twenty-years-old when they meet for the first time. Alexandre realizes very quickly that this unpredictable girl is the love of his life and that she loves him too; but he doesn’t have the courage to leave or to cheat on Laure, with whom he spends pleasant days. The idea of following in his flighty parents’ footsteps instills panic within him. Alexandre dreams of stability and dreads the passionate energy that resides within him.

The worthy descendant of Robinson Crusoe, Alexandre embarks on a particular adventure: he plans to continually resist the desire Fanfan inspires within him and to never admit his passion to keep it from fading away.

Courting Fanfan without relent becomes his goal.

Fanfan is liberated. Her casualness fascinates Alexandre as much as it frightens him. Out of love, she will try to use all the resources of her imagination with the hopes of goading Alexandre to renounce his plan.

Fanfan is the novel about a young man who wanted to forever prolong the preludes of love.

The Review

Fanfan is one crazy love story. Most love stories are variations of 1. Love at first sight, #2 they get to know each other #3 an obstacle gets in the way, #4 happily ever after. Although this novel hits each typical landmark of a love story, the events in between are bizarre. What is more romantic than your loved one sleeping underneath your bed every night without you knowing it?
Alexandre Crusoé vows never to engage in his parents’ lifestyle. At age 13 he witnessed his mother with another man, and from then on out, he promised himself to be Continue reading

Book Review: My Dark Vanessa by: Kate Elizabeth Russell

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Because even if I sometimes use the word abuse to describe certain things that were done to me, in someone else’s mouth the word turns ugly and absolute. It swallows up everything that happened.

My Dark Vanessa by: Kate Elizabeth Russell

Initial Thoughts : Whenever I see one of my friends reading a book, I just have to read it too no matter what it is. Last summer, I saw one of my friends post on Instagram Kate Elizabeth Russell’s book My Dark Vanessa. Without even knowing what it was about, I added it to my reading list.

Summary

Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

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2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of RoomMy Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself. 

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The Review

When she was fifteen, Vanessa embarked on an illicit relationship with her forty-two-year-old English teacher, Mr. Strane, at an elite boarding school in Maine. Seventeen years later, Mr. Strane is being accused of sexual abuse by a former student. The student attempts to contact Vanessa so that she could share her story and help send Strane to jail, but Vanessa is conflicted.  

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Book Review: Viola Desmond: Her Life and Times by: Graham Reynolds with Wanda Robson

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Initial Thoughts: Lately, I have been trying to read more non fiction books and books written by Canadian authors or about Canadian subjects. So, when I saw Viola Desmond: Her Life and Times, I just had to read it.

Summary

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For many Canadians, the first introduction to Viola Desmond will have been was seeing her portrait on the new $10 banknote. Those who are familiar with her life Others know that she was wrongfully arrested in 1946 for refusing to give up her seat in the racially segregated Roseland Theater in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Her singular act of courage was a catalyst in the struggle for racial equality, which ultimately resulted in the passage of human rights legislation that officially ended the practice of racial segregation in Nova Scotia. Today, Viola Desmond has become a national civil rights icon, and a symbol of courage in the face of injustice. She is considered by many as Canada’s Rosa Parks.

Viola Desmond: Her Life and Times looks beyond the theatre incident is the first authoritative biography of this remarkable woman. It provides new research and insights into her life. And, it details not only her act of courage in resisting the practice of racial segregation but also her extraordinary achievement as a pioneer African Canadian businesswomen. In spite of the widespread racial barriers that existed in Canada during most of the twentieth century, Viola Desmond succeeded in becoming the preeminent Black beauty culturist in Canada. In the late 1930s, she established the first Black beauty studio in Halifax and in the 1940s, she created her own line of beauty products, which she marketed throughout Atlantic Canada. During this same period, she established the Desmond School of Beauty Culture, the first of its kind in Canada.

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The Review

I first heard about Viola Desmond when I was in my first year of high school in 2010. Coincidentally, that was the year when Viola Desmond received an official pardon, 63 years after the event at the Roseland Theatre. Years later, I wanted to know more about Viola Desmond’s life, so I picked up this biography written by historian Graham Reynolds with Wanda Robson (Viola’s younger sister).

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