A Mother’s Love: For One More Day by Mitch Albom

I was (unknowingly) seeking a book that dives into the powerful and complicated mother-son dynamic when my eyes landed on Mitch Albom’s For One More Day sitting idly on the library shelves. Something about the blurb featuring the quote “Every family is a ghost story…” captivated me.

For One More Day explores the story of a mother and a son and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one? This compact book packs a punch with what seemed like honest intentions on reconciling the hurt, love, and power dynamic over the decades within the Benetto family.For One More Day- bookspoils

I breezed through the first half, anticipating a reality-based retelling on mother-son connections, however, I was quickly given a lifetime movie in its place, when I was expecting something to hit as deeply as Motherhood and Emotional Intimacy in Tully 2018. Charles “Chick” Benetto is too frustrating for his own good. Honestly, his mother opening her arms to him after he spits in her face so many times is what makes her a true hero; a mother. She even invented a whole new way to say ILY: “I love you every day!”
She worked her butt off to send him to college to become a mensch and all he does is run off to his daddy at the first glance. She makes the effort time and again to communicate, he brushes her off with an “I’m busy. Maybe next week.” He gives up on fulfilling her dream to see him with a college degree only to make his father happy (which he’ll never be) by chasing the big leagues. F R U S T R A T I N G.

“I met a man once who did a lot of mountain climbing. I asked him which was harder, ascending or descending? He said without a doubt descending, because ascending you were so focused on reaching the top, you avoided mistakes.
“The backside of a mountain is a fight against human nature,” he said. “You have to care as much about yourself on the way down as you did on the way up.”
I could spend a lot of time talking about my life after baseball. But that pretty much says it.”

Speaking on frustration, the father is a piece of garbage. He never provided for them, or paid the basic alimony and living expenses after he up and left, and yet he stills perceives to live the best of both worlds, where he gets to slip in and out of Chick’s highlighted points in life. All he wants is to benefit himself by living vicariously through his son’s baseball career.

“Not surprisingly, my father faded with my athletic career.”

Another point: This also didn’t keep its full promise of delving into the mother-son dynamic when it focuses the majority of the story on unwrapping the mystery. So I cherished those chapters titled “Times My Mother Stood Up for Me” and “Times I Did Not Stand Up for My Mother” that showcase exactly what it is that I seek in this book: the complexity of family interactions and the details that make up our daily lives.For One More Day mother It blows wide open so many truths we hold out to be self-evident when it comes to parents and their kids and the impact they have on each other’s world.

“Sometimes your kids will say the nastiest things, won’t they, Rose? You want to ask, ‘Whose child is this?’”
Rose chuckled.
“But usually, they’re just in some kind of pain. They need to work it out.”
She shot me a look. “Remember, Charley. Sometimes, kids want you to hurt the way they hurt.”
To hurt the way they hurt? Was that what I had done? Had I wanted to see on my mother’s face the rejection I felt from my father? Had my daughter done the same to me?”

This made me sit still till I let it fully sink in. There’s so much truth in the phrase “Sometimes, kids want you to hurt the way they hurt.”

It’s stirring moments like these, simply, the small joys and frictions in life we tend to overlook over the years till they’re gone out of our grasp, that made this book shine over the bad.

Sticking with your family is what makes it a family.”

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Book Lovers’ Delight: I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

We are readers. Books grace our shelves and fill our homes with beauty; they dwell in our minds and occupy our thoughts. Books prompt us to spend pleasant hours alone and connect us with fellow readers. They invite us to escape into their pages for an afternoon, and they inspire us to reimagine our lives.”

The audiobook for Anne Bogel’s I’d Rather Be Reading, read by the author, was the perfect companion to a day filled with cooking meals and cleaning my room. It’s lighthearted and a breeze to listen to; I sped through like eight chapters without even noticing.

I'd Rather Be Reading 2- bookspoils

(Chapter: “A Reader’s Coming of Age”)

I’d Rather Be Reading is a collection full of spectacular, talkative essays that chronicle and accentuate the simple things in books make us love in them. Bogel’s love for books shines so sincerely in her writing. Her bookish enthusiasm reminded me of why I read in the first place.

Not out of habit or duty, but because reading is part of who they are. It’s in their blood. They’re book people.”

This book also reminded me of the human connection I feel after reading a good Nonfiction essay collection, which I haven’t experienced in a hot minute. Surprisingly, it also brings back memories on all those books that made up your life one by one. The ones that changed the game by making you love reading, the ones that you hate to love and love to hate, the funny books, the childhood favorites, and so many more that came to shape the person you are today.

There’s a love letter to the library next door. Taking the hint when a book arrives at the right time in your life when it seeks you out. Living out her bookseller dreams for a day (and the odd requests received). Being “book bossy” and the treacherous ground of unsolicited advice that accompanies recommending people (especially her kids) what to read. The beauty of rereading a book, which reminded me of a podcast I listened to that hosted BookTuber Ariel Bissett, who talked more in detail on why rereading matters: We read to find books we love and want to revisit.

Coming of age with books and rereading them years late makes you see and uncover different things each time. They’re like photographs, taking you back to the exact moment in time when and where you read.

Rereading can make you remember who you used to be, and, like pencil marks on a door frame, show you how much you’ve changed. ”

Other goodies include a full chapter on Bookworm Problems. The hidden pleasures in reading the acknowledgments and sharing some of the favorite last page excerpts from books the author has read.

“I’m a reader who always wondered what the writing life was like, and not knowing the details, supplied my own—” “But in the acknowledgments, the authors hint at the practicalities of writing books, brass-tacks details that might otherwise never occur to readers.”

I enjoy reading the acknowledgments at the end as well because it makes for a less abrupt switch of mindset between reading and not reading. It also grants me the time to part peacefully from the book, like having trailers after the movie to prepare me for the exit. Also: “I especially enjoy stumbling across miscellaneous goodies and oddities, the things an author can’t include anywhere else”

In short: I’d Rather Be Reading capture the truth of our bookish experience in bite-size chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

Lastly, I have to mention this brilliant idea the author had on getting her hand on her library records. These records show so much of our timeline; our history through our bookish finds. It would be an ineffable experience.

“Based on my borrowed titles alone, I’d be able to clearly see the months and years I spent away from my hometown, the one I’m happy to live in even now. I would be able to spot the summer I got engaged, when I checked out every book on wedding planning in the library system. The month I learned I was pregnant and immediately cleared the shelves of those books. The sudden surge of board book checkouts a year later, after we’d added another tiny reader to our household. It’s all right there, in my library records.”

Among the many noteworthy book recommendations, I’m already on my way to my local library to browse their book shelves. Oh, and, of course, the on theme black-and-white illustrations scattered throughout the book were a joy to look at:I'd Rather Be Reading 1- bookspoils(Chapter: “Windows to the Soul”)
I'd Rather Be Reading 3- bookspoils(Chapter: “Confess Your Literary Sins”)

I'd Rather Be Reading 4- bookspoils(Chapter: “Book Bossy”)

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Book Spoilery Review and Commentary on The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I initially tried reading THUG when it first emerged into the book world, but something about the constant pop-culture references in the first chapter threw me off. It felt too much the case of an author, who’s clearly not a young adult, writing teens by seeing their interactions online and thinking that’s how they talk naturally in real life… I can still enjoy teen dialogue without there being some intermediate for me to understand that they’re teens, i.e. inserting references that are popular today, which makes them outdated the second they hit the page. It’s like trying to include a vine into a book, which will lose steam in like two days, while the book takes MONTHS, if not years, to publish; the more you mention something that is on trend today, the sooner it’ll fade out. There’s always going to be something newer and better the following day.

Plus, Tumblr is not quite the platform for a dramatic unfollow. It’s also not THE hub for interactions the author makes it out to be. The number of times it’s mentioned, though, without even talking about Instagram, had me wondering if this was some paid promotion.

Regardless, I picked this book up again, courtesy of my local library holding a new movie tie-in edition of The Hate U Give. thug- bookspoils 1It seemed fitting, as well, what with the movie coming out soon, for me to read the book before watching the movie adaption for once, which, in retrospect, I haven’t done since The Fault in Our Stars came out in 2014 (though, at the time of reading I had no idea it was being turned into a movie… my issues with their kiss in the Anne Frank house is feature here). Or Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy that I recently reread and reviewed on my blog.

When The Hate U Give isn’t trying to appeal to “fellow kids,” this book gets it so right in the interactions, like coming out of a good episode of Insecure. The Carter’s ride-or-die family vibes make this book thrive.

The premise of THUG recounts an unflinching look into the traumatic aftermath of police brutality. Starr bears witness to the brutal actions against Khalil, the boy she grew up with and her best friend, older only by “five months, two weeks, and three days.” His last words were to check in on Starr. The subsequent PTSD and the slow path to find and trust the strength in her voice within the power of her community. Things are irrevocably changed by the end of chapter two.

Let’s recap the details:

    • The Q&A at the end of the movie tie-in book between author Angie Thomas, Amandla Stenberg who stars as Starr, and director George Tillman Jr. voiced it best by saying The Hate U Give is here for “people who didn’t know anything about Black Lives Matter or police brutality to walk in the shoes of Starr for a moment.” She offers a unique perspective not many get to see in mainstream media that can hopefully install empathy in unaware readers of the complexity at hand.

    • The white boyfriend, Chris, whose defining feature is his whiteness… There’s no point of development when it comes to him as a character or his year-long relationship with Starr. All we know is that he goes to school with her, plays basketball and has a type in women that falls somewhere between Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, and Amber Rose. *Clears throat* Firstly, how do you expect me to root for a relationship, especially one set in high-school, when there are essentially no scenes developing them as a couple? I mean, even something as basic as Starr’s reasoning behind choosing this stale boy as her boyfriend, other than her “Jordan fetish.” Like, why are you here boy? If his defining feature is set to be his whiteness then explore more of that aspect in their relationship. At some point, I was willing to settle for any scene with them simply talking about something deeper than the school cafeteria lunch, but instead of exploring the complex components that arise in their relationship, Starr’s like:

There are those promising moments where Starr goes “hmm, this is interesting to explore” but then IT’S NEVER EXPLORED. She always stops herself just before a deep revelation with Chris, and it’s beyond discouraging.

“But that moment he grabbed my hands and I flashed back to that night, it’s like I suddenly really, really realized that Chris is white. Just like One-Fifteen. And I know, I’m sitting here next to my white best friend, but it’s almost as if I’m giving Khalil, Daddy, Seven, and every other black guy in my life a big, loud “fuck you” by having a white boyfriend.
Chris didn’t pull us over, he didn’t shoot Khalil, but am I betraying who I am by dating him?
I need to figure this out.”

Narrator: It was never figured out.

Also: They never fully addressed the fact that after a year of dating Chris didn’t seem to mind all that much that he was hidden from the person whose opinion Starr cared most for, meaning that he wasn’t all that real to her without the approval of her dad. She was half a person with him, never her full self.

“God. Being two different people is so exhausting. I’ve taught myself to speak with two different voices and only say certain things around certain people. I’ve mastered it. As much as I say I don’t have to choose which Starr I am with Chris, maybe without realizing it, I have to an extent. Part of me feels like I can’t exist around people like him.”

This concept was such a missed opportunity to explore deeper. As well as:

“I try to forget that he has an entire floor as big as my house and hired help that looks like me.”

Chris always brushes her off with an “I don’t care,” but that comment dismisses so much of what’s important to Starr. Those things he “doesn’t care about” take up a majority of her life and the community around her. Their whole time together I just felt like I was watching Sam and Gabe’s relationship unfold from Dear White People.

Plus, Hailey’s callous comment to Starr (“What’s next? You want me to apologize because my ancestors were slave masters or something stupid?”) got me wondering whether interracial couples in America address slavery, especially with white Americans, or do they just low-key erase history by saying it was too long ago?

  • Their little relationship paled in comparison to Starr’s tight-knit family. Starr’s Dad truly hit the jackpot with Lisa Janae Carter. She and her mother, Adele, are the true stars of this family. I lived for those moments when they called family members out, and oh, Lisa breaking a name down never grew old on me.

“You not gon’ say hey to me, Adele?” Fo’ty Ounce asks. When he talks, it jumbled together like one long word.
“Hell nah, you old fool,” Nana says. The door slams behind her.”

  • Circling back to Dear White People, this spoken word by Reggie Green will make you stop cold; it has an all too fitting message:

This important moment parallels when Starr tells it all:

“You wish that more cops wouldn’t make assumptions about black people?” she clarifies.
“Right. This all happened because he”—I can’t say his name—“assumed that we were up to no good. Because we’re black and because of where we live. We were just two kids, minding our business, you know? His assumption killed Khalil. It could’ve killed me.”
A kick straight to the ribs.
“If Officer Cruise were sitting here,” Mrs. Carey says, “what would you say to him?”
I blink several times. My mouth waters, but I swallow. No way I’m gonna let myself cry or throw up from thinking about that man.
If he were sitting here, I don’t have enough Black Jesus in me to tell him I forgive him. Instead I’d probably punch him. Straight up.
But Ms. Ofrah says this interview is the way I fight. When you fight, you put yourself out there, not caring who you hurt or if you’ll get hurt.
So I throw one more blow, right at One-Fifteen.
“I’d ask him if he wished he shot me too.”

Bam.

  • On a different note, coming out of this after having reread Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, I was all onboard with the many Harry Potter references dropped throughout the book, like, it’s mentioned A LOT. You can tell the author’s a true fan with this simple phrase: “What’s going on? You’re Harry in Order of the Phoenix angry lately.”

The Harry Potter references were on top of their game, though, her dad’s theory might be the cherry on top:

“Daddy, you’re the worst person to watch Harry Potter with. The whole time you’re talking about”—I deepen my voice—“‘Why don’t they shoot that nigga Voldemort?’”
“Ay, it don’t make sense that in all them movies and books, nobody thought to shoot him.”
“If it’s not that,” Momma says, “you’re giving your ‘Harry Potter is about gangs’ theory.”
“It is!” he says.”

This made me roar with laughter.

Also, this:

“What we used to call ourselves? The Hood Trio. Tighter than—”
“The inside of Voldemort’s nose. We were so silly for that.”

These are the kind of scenes set to linger with you long after completing the book.

  • I did lose some of that initial enthusiasm with THUG when it settles to move the plot forward with: “I wanna wait until I don’t have any other choice.” There are so many points that get stilled from development simply till the characters have no other alternative, and it became a bit frustrating to read time and again. Most of Starr’s final decisions occur after experiencing something that she wants to put an end to, even though she always had the choice to do it beforehand.
  • The compelling point to Starr’s growth was realizing this quiet truth: “What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?” 

Elie Wiesel, survivor of the Holocaust, once strikingly said:

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

This ends now.

“Once upon a time there was a hazel-eyed boy with dimples. I called him Khalil. The world called him a thug.
He lived, but not nearly long enough, and for the rest of my life I’ll remember how he died.
Fairy tale? No. But I’m not giving up on a better ending.”

If you’re interested in buying The Hate U Give, just click on the image below to go through my Amazon Affiliate. I’ll make a small commission!

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