The Weight of Blood Book Review

Bullying is, unfortunately, part of the school experience. Though it may seem normal, the after-effects can linger long after we have grown up.

The new novel, The Weight of Blood, by Tiffany D. Jackson, was published at the beginning of the month. Essentially, it is a modern reboot of Carrie with the added weight of racism.

Madison “Maddy” Washington has been a social outcast for as long as anyone can remember. Raised by her fanatical Caucasian father in a small Georgia town, no one knows that she is biracial. That is until a storm reveals the truth and Maddy becomes an ever bigger target for the popular girls/school bullies.

When a video of this incident is leaked out, the administration has some serious explaining to do. The leaders of the student body (one of whom is Maddy’s tormentors) devise a plan to hold an integrated prom for the first time in the town’s history. Feeling guilty for everything that has happened, Wendy, the class President, knows that something has to be done. She asks her African American quarterback boyfriend to ask Maddy to the prom.

For the first time in her life, Maddy starts to believe that she will be like any other teenager. She does not know that her peers have one more trick up their sleeves. But they don’t know that she has a secret of her own, which could be deadly if and/or when it is unleased.

I loved this book. Jackson does an amazing job of being true to the original text while taking the narrative to another level. In adding racism to the already heightened story of a girl who is teased and humiliated by her classmates, she speaks of the short-term and long-term damage that both create.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. In fact, I would say it is in the top ten new books of 2022.

The Weight of Blood is available wherever books are sold.

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Flashback Friday: Early Halloween Post-Carrie (2013)

Every genre has its star, the writer(s) who the symbolize that specific type of narrative. In the world of horror, one of those writers is Stephen King.

In 2013, a reboot of one of his most famous books, Carrie, hit theaters. Starring Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde, and Chloë Grace Moretz in the title role, this adaptation (as in the book and the initial film) tells the story of Carrie White. Carrie White is a shy teenager whose is hit by a one two punch that would ground anyone into literal emotional dust. In school, she is being bullied at school by the popular girls. When she gets home, her mother forces her into a sheltered and religious lifestyle that is equally as bad. After discovering that she has telekinetic powers, Carrie unleashes revenge on everyone who has put her down.

The problem is not with the movie itself. As remakes go, its decent. Carrie White is one of those characters that we can all relate to. The issue is that it was not needed. The original 1970’s film is just so dam good that it still holds up nearly fifty years later.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

This Changes Everything Review

Change, whether on a personal level or societal level, is hard. It requires work, the ability to open our eyes, and most importantly, the want to change.

The 2019 Netflix documentary, This Changes Everything, examines sexism in Hollywood and its impact on the careers of female creators, filmmakers, and performers. Speaking to noted names such as Geena Davis, Meryl Streep, Shonda Rhimes, and Reese Witherspoon, the film looks at the ways in which women are inhibited from reaching the peak of their careers. Female filmmakers are not given the same opportunities as their male counterparts. If they have one successful film, it is a fluke. If a male filmmaker receives positive notices from critics and audiences, the door opens more work and a bigger budget. In the same vein, female actresses are often boxed into certain roles and are limited in screen time compared to their male co-stars. Very often, they are over-sexualized or forced into playing traditional female parts.

I got angry watching this film. Women are 50% of the population, yet on screen, we are at best minimized and at worst, forced into the background. What is worse is that we learn early that we need to fit a certain physical and sexual mold to not only be happy but also thrive. The one moment that really pissed me off was a conversation with actress Chloë Grace Moretz (Carrie, 2013). At the young age of 16, a directive came down from the studios that she needed to amphliphy her bosom. What kind of adult tells a young girl that this is necessary to keep her job?

It is the kick in the but we need. Women are just as creative and capable as men. But we have not been given the opportunities to show what we can do. Those opportunities can only come when we break down the doors and demand our rights.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

This Changes Everything is avaliable for streaming on Netflix.

Carrie Book Review

Bullying in school is an age old experience. But few writers have used that as a basic narrative as Stephen King.

In his classic 1970’s novel, Carrie, Carrie White is having a teenage experience that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Socially awkward and quiet, she is bullied by her peers at school and by her ultra-religious mother at home. When she is humiliated at a school dance, her telekinetic powers come forward and all Hades breaks loose.

I have a confession to make: this is the first time that I have read Carrie. I have seen the movie adaptations, but I have yet to read the book. What I liked about this book is that King takes an unorthodox approach to the narrative. He tells Carrie’s story not just from her perspective, but also from the perspective of the wider community that is affected by her bullying.

I recommend it.

Late Flashback Friday Post-Halloween Style-Scream (1996) and Carrie (1976)

Horror movies can range from psychological (a la Alfred Hitchcock) to outright gory (a la Eli Roth).

Today is Halloween. In honor of the festivities that is Halloween,  I will be looking at two different horror movies in this post.

In the 1990’s Halloween and scary movies were represented in one single title: Scream (1996).

Directed by the late Wes Craven, Scream stays both within the boundaries of the horror genre and also steps out of it. Sydney (Neve Campbell) has just lost her mother. While she is coping with the loss, she is also dealing with a violent stalker/killer, who calls his victims to ask what their favorite horror movie is before killing them.

This movie is more than the typical blood and guts horror movie. Intertwining elements of comedy and psychological horror, the film keep the audience on their toes and their eyes glued to the screen. Wisely opening the film with an homage to one of the greatest horror movies of all time, Psycho, Craven and future Dawson’s Creek show runner Kevin Williams opens the movie with the character of Casey (Drew Barrymore), who will become the first of the killer’s victims.

While I am not a huge horror film buff, this movie is just enough to prevent me from sleeping soundly.

The other movie I will be discussing is Carrie (1976). Based on the book by legendary horror author Stephen King, Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) does not have a happy life. An outcast at school, she is the target of jokes and insults from her classmates. At home, her mother Margaret (Piper Laurie) abuses Carrie because of the difficulties that she has faced. Carrie is surprised when she is not only invited the senior prom, but she is also named homecoming queen. But some of her classmates have an ulterior motive. What none of them know is that Carrie has developed telekinetic powers which she will use to take her revenge on those who tormented her.

Yes, this movie falls into the horror category. But to me, the horror is not the traditional horror. It is the treatment that Carrie receives that is the true horror. But what makes this movie so satisfying is Carrie’s revenge, especially if the audience member/reader feels disenfranchised either at school or at home.

Do I recommend them? Yes. Happy Halloween

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