Tag Archives: New York

The Gilded Years: A Novel Book Review

Education is the one thing that should make us all equal in terms of future opportunities. But for that to happen, the type of schooling one receives should not be dependent on skin color or zip code.

In 2016, The Gilded Years: A Novel, by Karin Tanabe, hit bookshelves. In 1897, Anita Hemmings was a senior at Vassar College. She is popular, well liked, and on an academic track to do well post graduation. But Anita has a secret. She is African-American. Though she is light skinned enough to pass as Caucasian, there is the ever present danger of being outed for who she really is.

Her new roommate is Louise “Lottie” Taylor, the daughter of a wealthy and prominent New York family. The mask that Anita has been wearing for the last three years begins to crack as the girls become friends. Trouble, as it often does, comes in the form of romance and the opposite sex. Lottie starts crushing on Anita’s younger brother Frederick, who is as light skinned as his sister. In addition, Anita is spending her free time with a handsome and well to do white Harvard student.

With the end of the school year and her degree in sight, Anita’s secret is too close to be revealed. If it is, her entire future is possibly ruined before it has even started.

The narrative, based on a true story, is an interesting cross between School Ties (1992) and Imitation of Life (1959). It takes place in an era in which the idea of women being educated was only starting to become normalized. Add in race and you have a heady mix of social issues and the question of who is worthy of receiving an education. The book is like a powder keg, waiting to explode. It is only a question of when and what the damage will be.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

2 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History

Mental Health + Racism=The Daniel Prude Case

If nothing else, the summer of 2020 will be known for the murders of innocent African-American men and women. It is not a distinction to be proud of. Though this is nothing new for Americans of color, the difference is that the country is waking up and taking notice.

Back in March, Daniel Prude was found naked on the streets of Rochester in upstate New York. As the story usually goes, Mr. Prude was restrained by the police to the point of where he lost consciousness. He died a week later.

But there is more to this story that the standard accusation of police brutality. The issue of mental illness also comes into play. The police were initially called because Joe Prude, Daniel’s brother called 911, worried about his brother who had just walked out of the house.

As of earlier today, the police officers accused of his murder were suspended from their jobs.

I wish I could say that this will be the last incident of this kind. But we all know that until we deal with racism as a whole, Mr. Prude will be just another name on a long list of Americans of color killed by police.

RIP.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mental Health, National News

Nursing Homes: A Stain on the NY & NJ Response to Covid-19

A few years before my late maternal grandmother passed away, my family made a decision that she could no longer take care of herself. The only option was to move to a nursing home. To say that it was not an easy process is a understatement.

Across the country, millions of families have repeated this process. The last thing anyone wanted was to make it more complicated via Covid-19.

After three months of sheltering in place and wearing protection when going outside, it appears that the virus’s hold on New York and New Jersey is starting to break. Those of us who live in New York and New Jersey should be congratulating ourselves, as should those in the halls of power. But there is one issue that must be overcome before we can say we are in the clear: nursing homes.

As of the end of May, 20% of all Covid-19 cases in New York were found in a nursing home or long term adult care facility. In New Jersey, just above 50% of those who died from the virus were either lived in and/or worked in one of these organizations.

It should be considered that back in March and early April, we did not have the information we have now. This led to doing the best that was able to be done at that point. However, that does not excuse the major miscalculations that were made and the loss of life that may have been prevented.

Governors Andrew Cuomo and Phil Murphy have done an admirable job in trying to control disease that takes no prisoners. However, the fact that far too many nursing home residents and employees died is a stain on their response to Covid-19.

Leave a comment

Filed under National News

Tainted Moonlight Book Review

The myth of the werewolf has been told by human beings by an untold number of generations. The question is, when a writer decides to use the werewolf myth as a plot device, can he or she create a story that stands out from the hundreds, if not thousands of stories about werewolves?

In the book Tainted Moonlight, Korban Diego is living in Syracuse, NY. By day, he looks as normal as you or I. But when the moon rises, he becomes a werewolf. He lives in an alternate universe where five years ago, there was an outbreak of werewolf attacks due to a virus. Korban was one of those bitten. Instead of dying from his wounds, he has become a werewolf. The city has implemented a series of rules and regulations to protect the lives of the citizens of Syracuse. Unfortunately, those rules and regulations keeps Korban from living a normal life.

One night, while visiting a bar with friends, Korban meets Sophie Bane. It’s love at first sight for Korban, but unfortunately, the feelings must be one-sided as Sophie is married to one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Syracuse. Then Sophie is attacked and bitten at a party by a werewolf.  Korban takes it upon himself to help her heal and learn to live with her new reality as a werewolf. Now Korban must face the beast inside of him, otherwise it will control him and not the other way around.

I’m not a fan of the supernatural genre normally, but the book is well written. Ms. Kelly bring shades of light and dark to a character who in the past, has been immediately labelled as a villain without the audience knowing or understanding anything about the character beyond the 2D title.

I recommend it.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books

An American Bride In Kabul Book Review

Life is made up a variety of experiences. Sometimes these experiences take our lives into new directions previously not thought of.

In the early 1960’s, second wave feminist and author Phyllis Chesler was young and in love. Ms. Chesler was born into an Orthodox Jewish family from Brooklyn, New York. The man she fell in love with was the son of a devout Muslim family from Afghanistan.

Deciding to take a chance on love, she put aside her family and her ambitions to marry this man and live with him in his native country. Her experience is chronicle in her 2013 memoir, An American Bride In Kabul. When the plane landed in Kabul, her American passport was taken away from her. She was no longer an individual, but property that was part and parcel of her husband’s family.  The charming, educated, open minded man she fell in love was soon replaced by a traditional man who clung to the old traditions and expected his wife to do the same.

What I very much enjoyed about this book was that it opened my eyes to a world that I know really nothing of. Many of us who live in the West, unless we have visited countries like Afghanistan, truly have no understanding of what it is to live in that world.  One of the points that Ms. Chesler makes is that those of us in the West may pretend to understand what it is to live in Afghanistan and other countries in that region, but the truth is that we do not.

I highly recommend this book.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism

The Innocents Book Review

Edith Wharton’s Age Of Innocence is  a classic. Newland Archer’s inner struggle between personal desire and duty is timeless.

Francesca Segal’s debut novel, Innocence, moves the story from Gilded Age New York to a predominately Jewish suburb in North London. Newland Archer has become Adam Newman. Adam’s life is well ordered and perfect. He is living in the same community he was born into, newly engaged to Rachel Gilbert, his longtime girlfriend and working for Rachel’s father at his law firm.

His world and his decision making is turned when Ellie, Rachel’s independent, rebellious and headstrong cousin returns from New York, running from a scandal. When Adam takes on Ellie’s case, he begins to question if his well ordered and perfect life is really what he wants.

There are some fans who are so cannon (fanfiction term for original script or novel) that any reboot which removes the characters and story line from their original setting seems blasphemous. I am not one of those fans.

However, there is something to be said when a writer takes a risk and tells a new story, instead of retreading the path of another writer. It doesn’t take much to change Ellen Olenska, a woman trying to divorce her abusive European aristocratic husband to Ellie Schneider, a young woman escaping a sex scandal involving a prominent public figure.

Did I enjoy the novel? I can’t say I didn’t, but I look forward to her next novel when she tells a new story instead of re-writing an old one.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Edith Wharton, Reviews