One of the things I love most about books and reading is learning about people and what makes them different, but also the same.
Here are 5 books that offer a different viewpoint.
A Lover’s Discourse by Xiaolu Guo
This is a unique book, both in writing style and how it was presented. In this PGC Book, we read fragments of conversations between a Chinese woman who arrives in the U.K. when the country is in turmoil. She is lonely, but you soon realize she may have been lonely wherever she lives. The woman meets a man, with whom she falls in love. The man is born and lived in Australia before moving to Germany, finally settling in the U.K. You never know the people’s names, but you learn about them through inner monologues of the woman and the conversations between the two.
It was such as interesting read. You got to experience what living in the U.K. at such a confusing time (post-Brexit) and how the woman struggles to find home. You also get to understand her struggles with language and cultural differences, not just in the U.K, but all the places this couple lives.
Belief is an anthology of short stories and poetry by writers from the Asian diaspora. A mix of fiction and non-fiction, the book has stories from new and established writers, sharing their belief, or a little bit of themselves. The goal of the book is also for readers to better understand and feel empathy with the Asian community in light of anti-Asian hate, says one of the book’s editors, JF Garrard.
There is a variety of unique stories in this book. The great thing about anthologies is you don’t have to like every story. You can read one and move on to read someone else’s viewpoint. I enjoyed the Egg Roll story and found many of the stories quite sad – what people have to go through in order to be a part of their new country.
There was also a lot of stories about finding your identity, particularly first generation Canadians (or other countries) and embracing who you are in.
Read my interview with editor JF Garrard on Book Time: https://booktime584.wordpress.
Four Faces of the Moon
Four Faces of the Moon was written and created by Amanda Strong as she attempts to connect to the oral and written history of her family “as well as the under-documented history of the Metis, Cree, Nakoda and Anishinabee People and their cultural link to the buffalo.”
It’s another unique book in presentation and story. I can’t say I loved it, but I found it interesting.
In her introduction, Strong talks about how language “indicates the connection between a historical period and the present as well as the author’s connection to her bloodlines.” There is English, French and various Indigenous writings in the book. The illustrations are unique, with a mix of real pictures illustrations. I am not sure how to describe what they look like, almost puppet like in their appearance. There is one picture of the author face-to-face with a buffalo, and the image is powerful. Actually, all the pictures with the buffalo are powerful because Strong has done something with their eyes that makes it look like they are starring right at you. It isn’t a book I would usually read, but I am glad I picked up and learned a bit more about our Indigenous stories.
Four Faces of the Moon is $24.95 and is available from Annick Press, www.annickpress.com
Open Water is by Caleb Azumah Nelson and is about two young people who meet in a U.K. pub. “Both are black British and both have won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists – he a photographer, she a dancer – and both are trying to make their mark in a world that by turns celebrates them and rejects them.”
I hesitated about including this book because as much as I wanted to love it, I couldn’t finish it. It wasn’t that it wasn’t interesting, because it was. The writing was spectacular. When the two main characters talked, I was interested in everything they were saying and I wanted to read along. It was when the photographer was talking – or thinking – to himself that I couldn’t follow along; the character thinks more deeply then I will ever be able to understand.
“Narrated with deep intimacy, Open Water is at once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity that asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a black body…With gorgeous, soulful intensity, and blistering emotional intelligence, Caleb Azumah Nelson gives a profoundly sensitive portrait of romantic love in all its feverish waves and comforting beauty.”
Open Water is $15.28 and is from PGC Books - https://www.pgcbooks.ca/
The Year I Flew Away
In this middle grade book, 10-year-old Gabrielle leaves her small village in Haiti to come to live with her aunt and uncle in Brooklyn. Gabrielle is bullied by her classmates and struggles with the language while worried about her accent. Desperate to fit in, Gabrielle makes a bargain with a witch – three wishes, each one coming with a price.
I loved this book. Author Marie Arnold did a fantastic job with weaving magic into a story that is very much grounded into today. I love all the characters in this book, and I really loved the lessons Gabrielle learns about the importance of staying true to yourself and being careful for what you wish for.
The Year I Flew Away is $24.99 and is from Raincoast Books - https://www.raincoast.com/.
Lisa Day is the author of two book blogs, Book Time, where she reviews a variety of books for a variety of readers and offers author Q&As, and followsummer.com Follow her on Twitter @LisaMDayC, Instagram @LisaMDayC and @LisaMDayReads, and check out Book Time at https://booktime584.wordpre