24 Books to Christmas – Day 5

baublesThis year I chose this next 24 Books to Christmas book for the February ReadSoulLit Readalong in honor of Black history Month – Unforgivable Love by Sophronia Scott.  Wow! This was such an interesting modern retelling of the 18th century French classic novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.

Scott did an excellent job by placing this modern day retelling in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance with all black characters.  As the original classic is written in epistolary format, Scott chose to write it in prose/novel format.  That was not an easy feat but she managed to develop all the characters well and to tell the story while choosing the most import scenes to highlight .

Most of the readers who participated in this readalong loved the messiness between the characters.  It made us shake our heads, laugh out loud and gasp.  Scott’s astute fashion writing dialogues was that fine line between humor and seriousness at times.  The readers who didn’t like the book felt that the characters were being mean just to be mean and that wasn’t interesting to them. This being said it is a retelling so Scott can’t change the story.  It just wasn’t for those few readers.

Overview:

“Heiress Mae Malveaux rules society with an angel’s smile and a heart of stone. She made up her mind long ago that nobody would decide her fate. To have the pleasure she Lovecraves, control is paramount, especially control of the men Mae attracts like moths to a flame.

Valiant Jackson always gets what he wants—and he’s wanted Mae for years. The door finally opens for him when Mae strikes a bargain: seduce her virginal young cousin, Cecily, who is engaged to Frank Washington. Frank values her innocence above all else. If successful, Val’s reward will be a night with Mae.

But Val secretly seeks another prize. Elizabeth Townsend is fiercely loyal to her church and her civil rights attorney husband. Certain there is something redeemable in Mr. Jackson. Little does she know that her most unforgivable mistake will be Val’s greatest triumph.” (Unforgivable Love, back cover)

I’m linking below the Unforgivable Love Live discussion for anyone who may have missed it but has read the book. this video is full of spoilers so if you’re concerned about that don’t watch until you’ve read the book.  However don’t miss out on this discussion because it was very lively and full of a lot of insight. Moreover, Sophronia Scott joined in on the live where we had the pleasure of discussing the book, talking about creative writing, and Scott working on a black modern version of Jane Eyre. I can’t wait!

 

Unforgivable Love – Sophronia Scott

Publisher:  Harper Collins – William Morrow

Pages: 506

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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My Reading in February 2019

We are now well into March and finally I’m taking a moment to reflect on what I managed to read during last month.  February was very active since I was celebrating Black History Month through #ReadSoulLit.  Firstly I’d like to thank everyone deeply for taking the time to post, to share, to encourage others to join in, to follow, to subscribe, to comment, and mostly to read and promote black authors in February. Thank you! Thank you! Every year #ReadSoulLit is growing and I’m really happy that people are reading and promoting black authors more and more.  We must keep it going all year-long not just for Black History Month.  Always remember to tag your posts and pictures with #ReadSoulLit so that they can be found.

As for my reading in February I didn’t do so badly. I read a total of 8 books.  Most of them were short.  The only book I didn’t finish was the short story collection called Black Enough.  I didn’t quit because I was bored.  I think I was just a bit too preoccupied with everything.  There was a lot going on between the read along, the Instagram Photo Challenge, Booktube  Black Chats, and book reviews.  Despite all that was going on I still feel like my reading was very good and most of all meaningful.  So here’s the break down:

Unforgivable Love by Sophfronia Scott was the read along pick for February.  This year I decided to choose something that was very different from what we usually read in February.  Unforgivable Love is a retelling of the 18th century French novel Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, set in 1940s Harlem.  What a stunning read!  The writing was beautiful and the characters were messy and kept me looking for what was going to happen next.  There were quite a few poignant, unforgettable scenes too.  The original French work was written in epistolary form but this was written as a novel allowing for more creative license to fit the story to 1940s Harlem.  I highly recommend it.  I also held a live discussion on my YouTube with a few Booktubers and the author Sophfronia Scott.  That was AWESOME!  If you’d like to watch it just click here.  I suggest not watching if you plan to read the book because the video contains spoilers.

We Cast A Shadow is by debut novelist Maurice Carlos Ruffin from my hometown New Orleans.  I was really excited to pick this one up but sadly it didn’t wow me as much as I thought it would.  I liked it because of the premise and the bold statements it makes but I felt like the main character’s voice was so domineering  that it took me away from the overall feeling of the novel.  The tone of  We Cast a Shadow is very particular. I’m not sure how to describe it – dystopian but not really.  The book explores the black unnamed main character who is married to a white woman and has a son named Nigel. The main character would like his son to undergo a demelanization(change his skin color and features to that of a white person’s) operation so that he can no longer have problems living in the world as a black person.  The book is full of hard, sad truths, even today.  You can see more about how I felt in my video review here.

Next I read The Negro Motorist Green-Book  which brought me back to the Jim Crow period. It was a book used by black people when they wanted to travel within the US. It gave them recommendations of hotels where they could stay, restaurants, and even gas stations that accepted black dollars.

The Post-Racial Negro Green Book is a must read. It gives the statistics on race relations in the United States state by state. It give the percentage of blacks per state in proportion to whites. The poverty rate, unemployment rate, imprisonment ratio are given as well as information on whether the state has an open permit and stand your ground law. The number of hate groups are numbered and it is mind-boggling the quantity per state. We have some serious issues to work through in the states if we ever want to improve and get to a peaceful existence. Finally the percentage of black victims of law enforcement killings from 2013 – 2016 are TOO DAMN high! Whether there are large demographic of blacks in the state or not racism is still rampant. Incidents of racism being perpetrated by not only police officers but by mayors, fire chiefs, sheriffs, etc. The book cites racist incidents after another throughout the union from racial slurs oral and written everywhere even universities and incidents that have led to deaths. White America when are you going to fix this? You’re in control!  This book left me feeling helpless, pessimistic, and dejected.

Dear Ancestors was the only poetry collection I read and it was a real treat.  I’ll link my blog review here.  It recounts the Trans Atlantic slave trade to today.  After I picked up Praise Song for the Butterflies which explores the terrible African tradition of religious shrines where young girls mostly are literally sold into slavery in atonement for the family’s misfortune. It’s a beautiful story of redemption and recovery.  You can click here for my video review.  Praise Song for the Butterflies has also been longlisted for the Women’s Prize 2019.

The last #readsoullit book I read in February was Eva’s Man by Gayl Jones. Wow! Wow! Wow!  Gayl Jones does NOT play.  Her writing is so direct and brutal.  Haven’t read that many writers that have that power in their writing.  Why is she so underrated? Corregidora was at the same level of potency. Eva’s Man tells the story of Eva Medina Canada who is serving time in prison for poisoning her lover Davis Carter.  This book essentially tries to uncover the effect of sexual abuse, trauma, exploitation, and promiscuity.  It’s for this reason I will warn you about the graphic sexual content of the book.  Powerful short read that says so much in so few pages.  Can’t wait to start The Healing by her next.

Finally the last book I read in February was The Tattooist of Auschwitz.  This book is a historical fiction novel based on the life of real people.  This was my book club’s March pick.  Sadly this one was not my cup of tea.  You can check out my Goodreads review here.

All in all, this was a fantastic reading month for me.  Wish February was 31 days, but #readsoullit is 365 day of the year. Hope you all had a great February reading month.  Let’s chat about that below!  What were some of your memorable #readsoiullit books from February?