Review: Solo by Kwame Alexander

Published: 2017
By: Blink
Source: Borrowed
Format: Audiobook
Length: 4 hrs., 01 mins.

ISBN:  9780310761891

– Goodreads

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I once snapped this tweet from Twitter not knowing if I’d ever be able to stick it into a post. I can finally say that I can. Kwame Alexander did an interview with NPR and Alexander tells us the best way to get kids to want to read:

Click the pic to read the article

I didn’t know if I would like this book, but my mind has been changed! Kwame Alexander paints a beautiful narration as he tells the story of a teenage boy who lives the life most kids can’t even imagine for themselves. However, it comes with a price.

Blade Morrison is the son of a rockstar. With this life comes a lifestyle that nobody can dream of. And after dealing with years of stress and conflict from his father’s alcohol and drug addiction, the straw that snapped Blade’s last nerve was when his father comes to the football field riding in on a motorcycle completely inebriated to Blade’s graduation and stealing the spotlight that was supposed to shine on Blade that day.

From then on it was like Blade was dealing with ounce of weight on his shoulders, and during another argument with his family he’s pushed to his knees when his sister, Storm, blurts out that he’s adopted. Nearly eighteen and he’s finding out that he’s adopted. Fortunately, his mother, Lucy, is alive and is doing work in a rural village in Ghana, Africa.

With just  few months before he left for college, Blade cuts his loses with everybody at home, and he takes the most life altering trip to find his mother. Find the truth. Realize the beauty that he’d been missing while living in his father’s shadow.

I really enjoyed this story, even with the super heartbreaking ending – I thought it was. Blade’s story is about facing your demons, and realize that they may not be as bad as you think, and coming to terms with the struggles of life.  I liked this version, rather than reading it, was the fact it came with a soundtrack. The music inserted throughout the book was lovely and made the story endearing, and at the end they replayed all of the songs 🙂

 

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Review: The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake

Published: 2015
By: Recorded Books
Source: Borrowed
Format: Audiobook
Length: 3 hrs., 51 mins.

ISBN:  9781449888121

– Goodreads

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To kick off my contribution to the #BlackHistoryMonth with a review of a book that was published in the 90’s. I remember always seeing this title when I worked at the library and was always hesitant because I wasn’t sure how relevant it could still be now; in today’s generation. Needless to say I wasn’t disappointed, because I realized that the story about Maleeka Madison was just as relevant then as it is now. The issues of peer pressure, discrimination within like-social groups (in this case African-Americans), and the knowledge of one’s self-worth are all very prominent, not only within a group of students but with anybody!

Maleeka is constantly picked on by kids at school because of the color of her skin. It’s darker than everybody else’s. It has made it increasingly difficult to fit in and be accepted by her peers, which often is all a kid wants when in a junior high setting. She convinces a girl that she’ll do her homework for protection from the bullies, but this girl isn’t nice and constantly uses Maleeka – again, Maleeka just wants to be liked. Her low self-esteem lets be bullied by her protector and those that she was supposed to be protected by.

Because of a local library contest, Maleeka’s English teacher, Mrs Saunders, helps her realize that just because her skin color isn’t like everybody else’s that she is any less of a person. Through her story’s character, Maleeka finds a wavering confidence that helps her beat her bullies and accept herself.

Although the story ends on a happily-ever-after note and Maleeka goes riding off into the sunset of her new found assurance that everything was coming up daisies, one must recognize that in a grander scheme things don’t always work out that way. Maleeka’s story ends in the cute boy crawling his butt back to her after realizing that her skin color isn’t as bad as everybody had made it out to be, but the story certainly gives a slight glimmer of hope that people’s perspectives can change when you take the antagonist of a situation out of the picture and let people make decisions for themselves.

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#BellLetsTalk: 2018

Source: Twittter

In 2016, I was still working for the school library and as part of a district-wide PD day we were honored with a visit from six-time Canadian Olympian, Clara Hughes. I realize this may not sound like a big deal, but it was not about her per se, but about why she was visiting us. It was just days away from another Bell anti-stigma campaign; a dedicated day where the dialogue of mental health is brought to the forefront of our minds. Where discussions on mindfulness and, just overall, bringing awareness to how much a dark secret millions of people are carrying with them.

Now, why does this matter?

For the last eight years Bell Let’s Talk has helped paved the way of ending the stigma of mental health. Once day out of our 365 day calendar we are encouraged to help share our trials and successes and struggles through social media. Bell has made a promise to donate $0.05 per Snap sent, Instagram Bell Let’s Talk video post, or Twitter hashtag #BellLetsTalk used. One person doing it may not seem like a {BIG} deal, but when millions of people are participating the tally really grows…

I suppose at this point you’re wondering why I’m writing this. Perhaps you thought I would be expressing one of my own stories while dealing with mental health, I don’t really have any. I have seen many people, in my own life, deal with their own burdens in days when mental illness “required” a person to be a recluse from society because there were much fewer resources available to them.

I wanted to take advantage with this post by bringing to light some books that I have read with a character that has/is dealing with mental illness:

In Everything, Everything one may potentially overlook it because you don’t find out about until the end, but Madeline’s mom is dealing with something so big that she reflects those feelings of loss and sadness on to her daughter: The loss of her husband and son. This forces her to make the decision to confine her daughter into the plastic bubble of their home to keep her safe. Like I said, it may not seem like a mental health issue, but anybody who has dealt or known someone who has dealt with the loss of a loved one may have seen to what extent that person will go to when trying to recover.

 

Looking for Alaska is another example of a novel that covers how indistinguishable  mental health is. Although it doesn’t necessarily disclose Alaska as a teen with depression, there are many arrows that point towards her inability to cope, and then obvious the ending…

And lastly, because I don’t want to completely lose you, and although some of you may not agree with my last choice: Wild Awake.

In this book Kiri seems completely normal, but we eventually learn she’s not as “perfect” without all of her rough edges. She makes desperate attempts dedicated to her piano, loses sleep, and makes decisions that could’ve hurt her in the long run. It’s a great story with a lot of thought, but it also teaches the importance of self-monitoring.

Alrighty folks, that’s basically all I had to say and wanted to share. I hope you enjoyed this post, I hope you join us – wherever you are – in helping out by raising awareness of the importance in ending the stigma of mental health!

Do you have any titles to add to the list of characters dealing their own demons?

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