Honey & Clover 1-10 by Chica Umino (2000-2006)
Ahh, coming of age, self discovery, multiple love triangles (in all senses of love), and art school woes, coupled with beautiful artwork that seems both effortless, beautiful, and hilarious. I gotta say that I got so many Wai vibes from the art/expression/paneling (especially the exaggerated freak out parts). So if you like Wai's work, you'll probably like H+C, vice versa. The way that the title "honey and clover" is woven into the ending was chef's kiss.
The author draws herself as the best bear ever in her freetalk!!!!!!!!!!!!! Freetalk goals!!!!
Untamed by Glennon Doyle (2020)
I listened to the ebook narrated by the author, which I've never done before, but it's quite effective because I could hear her passion in the delivery of her words. She uses a caged/zoo-born cheetah as an analogy at the beginning of the book that is carried throughout the prose. I'm about to butcher it:
The cheetah in the zoo has never been in the "wild" before. She has a Labrador dog best friend as a role model. As a performance for the visitors of the zoo, the dog first demonstrates running after a dirty pink bunny plush down a race course track. Later on, the cheetah does the same, but does it much faster and is rewarded with a store-bought steak for her performance/obedience.
The cheetah is a representation of a creature who has never been let out into the wild, who has their path pre-forged for them, and who follows that path for a sub-par reward at the end. BUT, when placed back in her enclosure, the cheetah begins to show more instinctive/wild preying and stalking. There's more energy and sparkle in her eyes. Something innate in her, that has been suppressed. Tamed.
The book itself talks about forging your own path, rather than the path that was defined/given for you (e.g., following the dirty pink bunny), thus the title of the book, untamed. I was concerned about the title feeling cheesey (e.g., RAWRR FIERCE GIRL POWER!!!) but the way the analogy is used, is very effective. Although she addresses untaming primarily from a women's POV, but it can also apply to any person.
The author breaks away from being a devout/traditional christian living a straight life with husband and kids, to living and building a life with a female partner. The book has several examples of how she tried to "untame" herself in a lot of different contexts, primarily by:
- looking inwards instead of looking at what is already out there (before the world told you who to be) and
- living from imagination (instead of indoctrination).
In particular she addresses being called a racist (as a white woman) and describes how we fundamentally live in a racist world, where we're taught to be racist, so yes, in fact, we are all racist, and need to actively try to unlearn it.
Overall I think it's a worthwhile book to read if you always felt like there's was something about your life that feels unsatisfying, because you did what was expected of you. Personally I think I've been untaming for a while now, so I'm glad this book exists for those who haven't strayed off their indoctrinated path (yet).
One Native Life by Richard Wagamese (2009)
As we all know, the recent news about our indigenous relations in Canada is pretty terrible, on top of being historically awful.
Richard's book was meant to be positive and introspective, specifically written to help heal and reclaim his identity as a displaced Ojibwe child who was tossed into the foster/adoption system, because his parents/family suffered trauma from residential schools, and couldn't necessarily be parents. The book itself is written as micro short stories (a few pages each), compiled in 4 themes within the book, so it was an easy read. Could easily be picked up and down without losing your place. I think I read it in about 4 hours straight.
Richard was put into a foster and adoption homes of white people since ~5 years old. He shared a lot of stories about not belonging/being heard, learnings and heroes along the way, and overcompensating with wearing super native things (e.g., having long hair) when he tried to reconnect with his native side in his 20s. It was interesting to me that there are specific camps and retreats that exist purely for people like him, who were displaced, to relearn and reclaim their native lifestyle. The existence of such camps/retreats speaks to the historical erasure and genocide of their culture at the hands of settlers/colonizers. A lot of stories about native lives are ones of anger, injustice, and despair, so knowing that positive reflection (while acknowledging the historical issues) can still be a path forward, feels important.
What's coming up?
- They Said This Would Be Fun by Eternity Martis
- Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong
- The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
Today's music post: Window by Midori Komachi. The song itself is kind of peaceful but kind of uncertain at the same time, which feels appropriate as it is from I hope this finds you well in these strange times – Vol. 1, an on-going and multi-artist album compilation made for the COVID-19 crisis.