I Have Something to Tell You by Regan Hofmann is a memoir about a woman who, at 28, contracted HIV from her boyfriend after having unprotected sex twice. She lived with her status a secret from most people for a decade before becoming editor in chief of POZ, a magazine for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, and coming out to the world as a HIV positive woman and starting her journey as an AIDS activist. I’ve owned this book for awhile but put off reading it because it scared me, which is exactly why I decided it was time to. HIV is scary, as it should be, but knowledge is the key in all situations to protect ourselves and bring about change. Still today there is an all to real AIDS epidemic in the U.S. that people are in denial about. Hofmann summed it up perfectly when she said “it was perfectly obvious to me that the virus doesn’t know, or care, whether you’re black or white or Latino, gay, bi, or straight, young or old, male or female or transsexual, rich or poor. As an equal opportunity offender, it comes most easily to those who are most sure of their alleged immunity.” While the first half of the book felt to me like it was missing something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, the second half was really exceptional. Informative, enlightening, but still very human and conversational. Regan Hofmann is a pretty inspiring, strong woman.
This is a book that was on a few best of 2014 books lists that I perused in January, but could never seem to find at any of the places I buy books. I’d all but stopped actively looking for it when low and behold there is was on the library’s new book section. I seriously just about squealed when I saw it. Any who, Binary Star by Sarah Gerard is a novel about a woman with an eating disorder and her shitty, alcoholic, long distance boyfriend. Now here is the part that was so crucial to the story but also a decent sized hurdle, the whole book is told from her perspective in prose. There is definitely a learning curve in the first 15 or so pages before you get the flow and can figure who is saying what and what is just inner dialog. The reason why I thought that this was so important was that Sarah Gerard seriously nailed the scattered, obsessive, keyed up way of thinking that goes on in your head when you are treading water, with no land in sight, in the middle of the vast ocean called an eating disorder. I’m not sure this story could have been as successfully told if not written in this style because of how extremely effective it was at allowing the reader experience that level of obsession. The more I thought about it though, the more I thought that it was only so effective in my eyes because I knew first hand what the mind of someone with an eating disorder is like, so of course I immediately picked up on the purpose of the style choice. I completely get how maybe for those people with pleasant food thoughts, the prose were just confusing and difficult to comprehend fully. Regardless, for me a was a good book. Once you felt out the flow of the writing it became a very rhythmic read.
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson is a young adult book about a 17 year old girl who’s father is a veteran with pretty serious ptsd. She is forced to be the parent most of the time and interestingly takes on some of his ptsd symptoms, which makes her obviously have a hard time at school and letting people get emotionally close to her, like the guy she starts dating. I’m going to level with you guys, I wanted so badly to like this book more than I actually did. There were frequent moments when beautiful literary devices came into play that really just kind of made you take a second and read it one more time and say “go you Laurie Halse Anderson.” My issue though, no surprise, was the dialog between characters as well as the inner dialog of the main character. It was all fairly unrealistic and overly witty. I honestly was insanely annoyed my the main character as well, she wasn’t likable even though she had the world on her shoulders and you are supposed to feel for her. So here is my bottom line, every thing that wasn’t inner or outer dialog was wonderful and a joy to read. If you can grit your and ignore the other stuff then it is very much so a story worth reading.
Book number 12 was The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan and while I had been wanting to read it for a long time now, I was terribly worried it was a cheat book but my dad (who bought it for me) convinced me otherwise. All and all it was lovely and heartbreaking, exactly like the entirety of a relationship, all wrapped up in alphabetical order. Hands down one of the most wonderful books I’ve read in a very very long time. That’s all there is to know, just go read it you won’t regret it.
So I finished the book days and days ago but my laziness has stopped me from actually writing this post. Face palm. I need to get it together and step up my game.
Now on to the important shit. On My Knees by Periel Aschenbrand is a memoir (big surprise I know) about Periel getting over a break up and then eventually finding a way to remember who she really is as a person, taking a step back and looking at her life, and then getting her shit together, but not before spiraling downward into a pit of despair and batshit craziness. I was worried about this book because she had no shame about anything so continuously got into cringeworthy situations. Oddly though I found it entertaining and funny. Periel Aschenbrand never felt like she was being fake or trying to hard be zany/unique/different, which made the book silly and fun and believably real. Quick potato chip read in the best way possible.