BOOK REVIEW: DID YOU EVER HAVE A FAMILY by BILL CLEGG

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Beautiful in the saddest ways, Did You Ever Have a Family is a sweeping yet particular novel, examining grief and trauma and how they intersect and coalesce in different people with different histories and relationships. Its writing is sparse but potent, its emotional beats all the more powerful because they are unornamented. There’s such an unmitigated sense of melancholy running throughout this story, an emptiness at the immensity of the loss that these characters have suffered. Yet it’s not a completely hopeless novel either. If Clegg is clear about anything, it is that just as loss alienates, it also connects.
One criticism: I felt that some of the passages about the women in this novel were really gratuitous, especially in their violence and objectification. Out of nowhere, you find out that one of the characters’ lesbian friends–who was in a happy relationship, by the way–was raped and killed while she was sleeping in the safety of her own home. Raped and killed? In the middle of a happy relationship? While she was sleeping in her own house? It irritated me that, in killing off a minor character, Clegg chose to have her be raped and killed while she was sleeping. Is this kind of horrific death necessary? Why not just have her die in a car crash or something? Another thing was that one of the characters, Silas, constantly objectified women. I know he’s a teenage boy and all but, again, to what extent are passages about him imagining women naked and staring at their “ass” (“That ass! He’s spellbound by the metronomic perfection of its movement and thinks, This is no mom’s ass”) and curve of their breasts really necessary to this story?

3.5-


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THE EMOJI CHALLENGE (tag)

EMOJI


hi everyone!!!! I’m back again with another book tag: the emoji challenge tag!!ย I wasn’t tagged by anyone to do this, but Kristen from Beyond Secret Pages did it and I thought it sounded cool so I wanted to do it.ย ๐Ÿ’


Rules

  • Tag the creators (Book Princess Reviews)
  • Share one thing you learned about the person who tagged you
  • For each prompt, you can use a maximum of three emojis
  • Tag at least two other bloggers you want to get to know better

What I learned about Kristen:

Her favourite genre is fantasy ๐Ÿ‰

[1] What country do you live in?

๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ

[2] What was your dream job growing up?

๐ŸŽค๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽธ

[3] How many siblings do you have (if any)?

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ

[4] What are your top three favourite activities?

๐Ÿ•ฎโœ๏ธ๐Ÿ’ป

[5] What is something youโ€™re very good at?

โœ๏ธ๐Ÿ“ท

[6] What is something youโ€™d like to become better at?

๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ’ช

[7] How many languages do you speak?

๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ฌ

[8] What is something you could talk about for hours? (non-book related if possible)

๐Ÿ“บ๐ŸŽตโ™€๏ธ

[9] Whatโ€™s your favorite book genre?

๐Ÿ‘ฉย (couldn’t find a way to say “contemporary” so we’re just gonna have to do with this emoji lol)

[10] What is your favorite season of the year?

๐ŸŒป

[11] If you had to describe yourself as an animal, what animal would you be?

๐Ÿถ


I Tag


In the spirit of the tag, I’m gonna sign off with a bunch of emojis: ๐Ÿ‘‹โœŒ๏ธ๐Ÿ™†โ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ•ฎ

Blogย |ย Goodreadsย |ย Twitterย |ย Instagramย |ย Tumblr

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BOOK REVIEW: A WOMAN IS NO MAN by ETAF RUM

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A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum

wow this just completely missed the mark huh

โ—˜ I’m so starved for any kind of Arab representation in fiction, let alone ownvoices Muslim Arab representation, so I jumped at the chance to read this when the audiobook popped up on Scribd. And oh boy was I disappointed.

โ—˜ This book’s biggest weakness is without a doubt its lack of nuance. I don’t want to be the person that’s like oh the oppression you represented in your book isn’t complicated enough. I’m sure women did and still do experience the kind of marginalization Rum depicts in this book: domestic abuse, a lack of choices, physical confinement, etc. And I also know the amount of pressure that gets put on works by authors of colour to be representative of their entire ethnic/racial groups. I don’t want to hold Rum responsible for somehow failing to encapsulate the entirety of the Arab experience; no one book can do that. But all that being said, I still think her book severely lacked nuanceโ€”in its representation of allits characters, in its messages, in everything, really.

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pictured above: me while reading this book

โ—˜ More than nuance, I think this novel suffers from being EXTREMELY repetitive. By the time you get to the halfway point of the narrative, it feels like you’re just reading the same scenes over and over again: Isra makes tea for her mother-in-law, her mother-in-law is disappointed that she’s given birth to a girl, Deya’s grandmother tells her she should consider her marriage options, Deya says she doesn’t want to, Isra loves to read, ad infinitum. When you’re reading the same scenes represented in the same simplistic, on-the-nose ways again and again and again, the reading experience starts to drag, quickly.

โ—˜ All of this is not to say that I’m not happy that this book was written; I’m all for more stories about Arab experiences, especially ownvoices ones. I definitely wish there were more, but I’m glad that Arab authors are getting the chance to get books published. I didn’t much like this novel in particular, but here’s hoping that other good ones are written.

1.5-


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