A compelling must-read for kids, young adults, and adults! Body Talk is the kind of no-holds-barred, thoughtful compilation that I wish I had access to in school. It's time to demystify our bodies and break down the barriers of ignorance and taboo surrounding our bodies and our physical differences.
Why do we give our bodies such a hard time? Why do signs of physical difference or ability mark some of us as "Other?" At the end of the day, why are we so hard on each other and on ourselves?
These are just a few of the questions that Body Talk raises, and they're great starting points. I'd go so far as to the say that this anthology could be considered a primer for students in health class, because honestly there are things in here that kids (and us adults!) should be thinking critically about.
What is the correct way to refer to a disabled person? Where did the phrase "body positivity" come from, and is it the inclusive term we think it is? Why is a woman's pain treated as insignificant in a doctor's office and often misdiagnosed? Did you know that young men should be aware of a specific kind of cancer?
Some of these tales come from a place of education—the author is telling us about a subject in an an almost impartial manner, and it works. Some of these stories are bullet points, some are from medical professionals.
Other tales come from places of pain and joy—authors who live on the other side of the social norm due to their physical form—which is outside of their control—and they're sharing their experiences with themselves on a personal level and with their surroundings. These are the stories that I will remember the most, because some of them cut deep and others highlighted some of my own biases, fears, and judgments.
We all have conceptions of physicality and what it means to have a "normal" body. What many of us don't think about is how it feels to live on the other side of that line, and how our "normal" ideas can be damaging, ignorant, or at times just confused.
This book is covers a LOT of topics, and everyone could read these stories and get something different out of them. We've got stories on disabilities, yes, but also on body size and shape, gender, female issues and male issues, stigmas in different communities, and windows into other people's experiences.
A valuable book, and worth a read to all of us with bodies to care for and love. (So... all of us, unless the person reading this is an embodied spirit or cyborg, in which case you've got your own issues.)
Thank you to Algonquin Books for Young Readers for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
Oof. No one is more surprised than I am...I really struggled to finish this, and struggled even more to enjoy the reading experience.
Actual highlighting of genius women: ★★★
The Genius of Women was a nonfiction book given to me for review, and I immediately was excited to open it up. It's a nonfiction book dedicated to sharing the stories of women overlooked throughout history! Yes! Amazing! Let me learn about these women!
The first few chapters of this book got to me—they had valid feminist points, they highlighted several women from history that I had never heard of, and they incited a fire in me to learn more. I wanted to learn their stories, feel their histories, and know where their accomplishments stood today in 2020. I wanted more!
But then...the chapters started to feel the same. We'd have a killer chapter title. Then we got a great bite-sized nugget of information about a historical/current woman genius who was terribly under-recognized by the patriarchy. And then, very quickly, we abandoned her. It became a personalized essay on behalf of the author about her experiences and strong (strong!) opinions on repeat about all that is wrong in today's society as it relates to women.
This would have been fine-ish—let's be real, I wanted to raise these women UP, not abandon their narratives for opinion promotion, so it wasn't "fine" to me personally—but the opinions and personal anecdotes felt repetitive. I'm a proud woman who promotes female rights and am aware of what's wrong with the world's lens of men first, women second. I didn't need those issues shoved at me at every turn. Maybe, if you're somehow new to gender inequality, it was worth the hammered approach?
I guess, if you boil it down, I wanted the lens of this work to focus on the women and their accomplishments as opposed to using them as brief touchstones and a launch pad to discuss the gender imbalance in all things through the highly personable layer of author opinion. This was probably a "me" issue as others have reviewed this work much more positively, but I can't ignore my thoughts. I realize that my review falls into the trap of what the author herself mentions...that when a woman decides to tout accomplishments and opinions, the reaction to that is to say it's not enough, too much, negativity, etc. I agonized with whether to say my feelings on this because I didn't want to become one of the negative voices being part of the problem. But in this case, it's still important to be honest. I didn't love this.
Thank you to Dutton for a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.
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"Yes, we are witches, and we're hunting you."
What an impressive and readable collection of essays. Lindy West, the author of Shrill, has returned and she's ready to share some facts and clapbacks.
"In a laugh-out-loud, incisive cultural critique, West extolls the world-changing magic of truth, urging readers to reckon with dark lies in the heart of the American mythos, and unpacking the complicated, and sometimes tragic, politics of not being a white man in the twenty-first century. She tracks the misogyny and propaganda hidden (or not so hidden) in the media she and her peers devoured growing up, a buffet of distortions, delusions, prejudice, and outright bullsh*t that has allowed white male mediocrity to maintain a death grip on American culture and politics-and that delivered us to this precarious, disorienting moment in history."
I have to be honest, these essays were at times hard to read--not necessarily due to the author, but due to the wounds that they reopened for me. Being a woman in today's world isn't easy, and we're still fighting to be heard. Being a woman in America...yeah, it's rough, especially given the current political leader. These essays have receipts. They have anecdotes. And they'll throw you into each and every one of the political turmoils of the now.
The title The Witches Are Coming is derived from West's analysis of Trump's frequent use of the phrase "witch hunt." While Trump is determined to use it as a label that is pro-men, West is quick to remind us that witches were always women who spoke out and had agency, and the phrase "witch hunt" has historical roots in female oppression...not the other way around. So for West, yes, the "witches" are coming. And it's time for a reckoning and reclaiming of the term.
Also, a side note: the chapter on Adam Sandler is inspiring. I, too, hate Adam Sandler for what he represents. West gets it. You tell 'em, girl.
Thank you to Hachette for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.