After I Do: A Novel Book Review

When we say ‘I do”, the hope is that this will be the one and only time we walk down the aisle. But that is not always the case.

After I Do: A Novel, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, was published in 2014. Lauren met her husband, Ryan, in college. After 11 years together and six years of marriage, their relationship is falling apart. The only solution is to separate for a year. Nothing is off limits, except for contacting one another.

Though her friends and family are being supportive, this is a path that Lauren has to walk by herself. Along the way, she starts to question her ideas about marital life and if it is worth it to try again with Ryan.

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This book is amazing. I felt everything that Lauren was going through. Despite everything, she still loved her husband. It was just a matter of working through the kinks and hoping that there would be some sort of reconciliation between them.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

After I Do: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.


Throwback Thursday: Monsters University (2013)

Our university years are formative in multiple ways. Outside of the academics and the eventual degree, the friends and the relationships we make can change the course of our lives.

Monsters University (2013) is the sequel to the Disney/Pixar movie Monsters, Inc. (2001). When Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) met James P. “Sully” Sullivan (John Goodman) met in college, they don’t exactly get along. Mike is your typical overachiever. Sully is coasting on his family legacy. Despite their differences, they must find a way to get along.

I loved this movie. Crystal and Goodman have amazing chemistry. As I watched the film, I was reminded of my time in college and got a few chuckles along the way.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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My Last Innocent Year: A Novel Book Review

The last year of college is developmentally speaking, an important one. It is the emotional and psychological bridge between young adulthood and full adulthood.

My Last Innocent Year: A Novel, by Daisy Alpert Florin, was published in February. In 1998, Isabel Rosen is months away from college graduation. Attending a formerly WASP-only university in New Hampshire, she is one of a handful of Jewish students on campus. The daughter of an appetizing store owner from New York City‘s Lower East Side, she feels like an outsider.

In the shadow of the affair between Monica Lewinsky and then President Bill Clinton, she starts sleeping with her writing Professor. He is older, married, and makes her feel seen and attractive. As the school year wears on, their “relationship” forces Isabel to start answering difficult questions. As his secrets come to light and the older generation reveals their flaws, she discovers that life is far from black and white.

I loved this book. This coming-of-age tale is full of complications, narrative twists and turns, and a protagonist I immediately connected with. Isabel is intelligent, hopeful, slightly insecure, and unaware of the potholes that life will be shortly sending her way.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I would also argue that it is one of my favorite books that I have read so far this year.

My Last Innocent Year: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.

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The Right Wants to Eliminate the LGBTQ Community

When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

It’s not exactly a secret that the cultural and religious right does not approve of anything other than the traditional gender binary. Anyone who does not fall into the archaic idea of what it is to be strictly “male” and “female” is therefore open to criticism, hate, and denial of rights.

As of last week, the “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida extended to 12th grade. It was previously verboten for students in kindergarten to third grade. So, in essence, the first time that a young person will truly wonder about gender and sexuality will be in college. Given how much we go through by the time we reach that age, it may be a little more difficult to dismantle what we did or didn’t learn when we were younger.

Though Ron DeSantis and his allies claim that it is “parents’ rights” when it comes to what children learn in school. In a sense, it is. A parent certainly has a say in their offspring’s education. But when it is used as a smokescreen to reach a political end, it smacks of something darker and menacing that we ignore at our own peril.

In Montana, Democratic transgender state representative Zooey Zephyr was blocked by her Republican colleagues when she objected to a bill that prevents gender-affirming care to minors. As with the Tennessee Three a few weeks ago, she was silenced because she dared to speak out. Given the response from the voters and the swift backlash that the lawmakers in Tennessee received, I have every hope that she will be back in the state house sooner rather than later.

I don’t want to say this, but I feel like I have to. The comparisons to the dehumanizing of the LGBTQ community (which I am a part of) scare me to no end. In Nazi Germany, the Holocaust did not start with ghettos, mass graves, and gas chambers. It started with ugly stereotypes and caricatures that opened the door to denying my brethren their humanity and for most of them, their lives.

Their ultimate goal is to eliminate us. At best, they want to force us underground and take away our rights. At worst, they want to not exist.

Either way, it is a scary premise that we should not ignore.

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Flashback Friday: Get a Job (2016)

One of the great challenges of life (at least from my experience) was getting that first job after graduating college. The second greatest challenge is finding a new job after getting fired and having to start over in a new position.

In the 2016 film, Get a Job, Will (Miles Teller) and Jillian (Anna Kendrick) are brand-new college graduates. While trying to maintain their relationship, they are navigating the working world for the first time and dealing with its pitfalls. While this is happening, Will’s middle-aged father Roger (Bryan Cranston) has recently lost his own job. Due to his age and years of experience, his search for new employment is just as difficult.

Though the reviewers disliked the film, I did. It speaks to (at least in my mind), the drive that it requires to get a job in an environment that is not kind to those who are not employed and are seeking a new position.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The House of Eve Book Review

An unintended pregnancy, depending on one’s circumstance, is either a blessing or a curse. It also forces both the pregnant person (and their spouse/partner, if there is one) to make a decision that could border on difficult.

The House of Eve, by Sadeqa Johnson, was published last month. Taking place in the 1950s, it follows the stories of two young ladies who are in the family way. In Philadelphia, Ruby was born to a teenage mother who has more interest in keeping her boyfriend happy than being a parent. Despite this and the poverty she lives in, Ruby is determined to attend college. A wrench is thrown into that plan via a forbidden romance. Shimmy is the son of her aunt’s Jewish landlord. When Ruby discovers that she is to become a mother herself, their situation becomes infinitely more complicated.

In Washington D.C., Eleanor is a bright and determined university student. Coming from a working-class family, she wants to make her parents proud. Though she is not looking for love, it finds her. William is the eldest son of an elite upper-class black family. Eleanor is an unexpected choice for a daughter-in-law and not exactly welcomed with open arms. Once they are married, she hopes that bringing their child into the world will solidify their marriage and finally force the respect of her in-laws. But it seems that fate has other plans for her.

I enjoyed this book. The narrative is compelling, the characters are fully drawn, and the details of the era are pitch-perfect. Though Eleanor and Ruby seem to live very different lives, they have a lot in common. As the story intertwines and their combined destiny inches closer, universal questions about motherhood and the choices they make become real.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The House of Eve is available wherever books are sold.

Fox News is Losing Their Shit Because Chelsea Handler is Happily Child Free

Becoming a parent is a blessing. It is also a 24/7/365 job from birth until the child is self-sufficient. And yet, it is still forced on women, whether we want it or not.

Two weeks ago, Chelsea Handler guest hosted The Daily Show. One of the segments was about her decision to not have children.

As expected, the right and Fox News couldn’t handle it. In their “outrage”, the obvious (as was discussed on WNYC‘s All of It last week) is apparent to anyone with a reasonable amount of intelligence. For all of human history, motherhood was foisted upon us. Adding insult to injury is the lack of free/affordable childcare, the extreme rise price of college tuition, and the uneven access to healthcare/parental leave.

Having a kid is not like playing with a baby doll that is thrown into the toy chest at the end of the day. It is an all-encompassing task that requires everything that the adult has to give.

Since last summer, I have been spending time with friends who have a toddler. She is at the age in which she goes for everything in sight and has to be watched like a hawk. The last time I was there, my friend had to step out for a minute. I was happy to distract the baby, but I can only imagine the finagling that would have had to be done if I was not there. Multiply that by a gazillion and that is what it is like to be responsible for a young life.

Which is why Fox News and the right can shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.

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Flashback Friday: The Parent ‘Hood (1995 to 1999)

When it comes to family sitcoms, there are two distinct categories. The first (a la the 1950s) is a complete fantasy that has nothing to do with reality. The second is one that reflects the everyday lives of the average family ( i.e. Roseanne).

From 1995 to 1999, The Parent ‘Hood was on the air. Robert Peterson (Robert Townsend is a college professor who is balancing work, marriage, and parenthood. As anyone who has gone or is going through this knows, it is far from easy.

I think it goes without saying that there was enough of an audience to keep it on the air for four years. But looking back, it was just another sitcom. While it was not a complete boilerplate, it stuck to the script just a little too much.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Throwback Thursday: Save the Last Dance 2 (2006)

College is a time of growth and change. With that growth and change comes a few challenges.

Save the Last Dance 2 (2006) is a direct-to-video sequel to Save the Last Dance (2001). Sara (Izabella Miko, taking over from Julia Stiles) has just arrived at Julliard in New York City, taking her one step closer to becoming a Prima ballerina. But the competition is stiff. For everyone that makes it in this world, there are many whose dreams never become reality.

When she meets Miles (Columbus Short), a composer who loves hip-hop, her world starts to open. But it soon becomes clear that Sara will have to choose between Miles and her vision of the future.

I have to give this film an A for effort. It tries to live up to its predecessor. But the magic that made Save the Last Dance special is missing from its sequel.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Flashback Friday: Bring It On Again (2004)

When a film is successful, the obvious next step is a sequel. The question is, does it hold up or is it nothing more than an easy cash grab for the studio?

The 2004 straight-to-video movie Bring It on: Again is the follow-up to Bring It On (2000). Whittier (Anne Judson-Yager) and Monica (Faune Chambers Watkins) are college freshmen who want to join the cheerleading squad. When they are rebuffed by the team captain and queen bee Tina (Bree Turner), Whittier and Monica decide to form their own team.

The challenge is the following: only one squad can go to nationals. Will Bree and her establishment team win or will misfits and outsiders have their chance to shine?

There is a reason it skipped theaters and went straight to video. The generic “David vs. Goliath” narrative is predictable almost to the point of becoming boring. While its predecessor had at least some tension, there is none to speak of in this movie.

Do I recommend it? Only if there is nothing else to watch.

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