Off the Continent

Find all my writings about none African literature and fiction in this category.

The Summer of Jordi Perez

THE SUMMER OF JORDI PEREZ (AND THE BEST BURGER IN LOS ANGELES) by AMY SPALDING.

Something I guess what I hadn’t forseen about falling in love with someone is how much your heart can ache to take away their pain.’

‘When you’re making your way through the world in a look you feel confident about, everything feels easier’.

Abby and her summer romance tale slayed my life in August. Which is why I’m sharing my thoughts about this highly recommended novel. I read each chapter like one relishing tiny bits of their favourite chocolate bar. Every night after a productive day I’d curl up under my cotton covers and read two to three reward chapters. Initially I was sceptical about this book. It was named after another female character the heroine was competing with but crushing on.  But I now agree with Julie Murphy, this novel is truly a dreamy, queer, fat girl rom-com. I know how many times I have read fat or plus-size heroine chicklit or romance novels which were disappointing. But not with this novel. It’s a witty, young adult, queer romance novel. Genres I love! I read this at a time when I’d just uplifted my body confidence which took a dip. Being a thick babe, I could relate with Abby’s sentiments on full body pictures and her worries about online fat shaming. Amidst her fashion blogging, Abby landed her dream internship. Abbs, career babe, colorful fashionista!

It was comedic. Just when Abby’s worries and observations would scurry around pages. Her goofy friends and plot ironies would lighten the mood. This was my favourite funny conversation;

‘Are you crying?’ Jax asked with a horrified edge to his voice. ‘No!’ I am lying. Lying and crying. He sort of scatters extra napkins near my face, which–despite my tears–makes me burst into laughter. ‘Why are boys so scared of girl feelings? I ask. ‘Abbs, I’m a feminist’, he says. ‘I’m equally scared of all feelings.

I know! Jax and Abby spent the summer eating burgers and reviewing them as part of data collection for his father’s soon to be launched rating app, Best Blank. I mused about having a friend who would pick me up in a fancy car to eat free burgers for research. Then I remembered every other Friday evening my sis and I drive around Ojo to get great shawarma to eat. I am living the life!

Mailah who is Abby’s best friend disappointingly spends most of summer with her boyfriend Trevor. Jordi Perez, the other intern and photographer is an adorable and talent young woman.  All the swimming parties, restaurant hunting, parents avoiding, kissing, photography and fashion aside. I love this fat girl narrative. The writing is simple, clear, witty, reflective, engaging and flows beautifully. Set in Los Angeles, I loved how different characters like Abby’s mother and her health eating business were some form of antagonist contradiction for Abby. Look Jordi, Jax, Abby and Mailah thought me a bunch of lessons about forgiveness and rebuilding trust with effective communication, trying out new things and finding work balance in a romantic relationships or friendship.

More info

‘And to all the girls who worry they take up too much space: you don’t’.. these are the words Amy Spalding ends her acknowledgement with. Amy lives in Los Angeles and has a B.A in Advertising and Marketing Communications. This is her sixth book. Check out her other novels at her site.  Sky Pony Press, New York published this novel in 2018.

 

Advertisements

EVERY DAY

EVERYDAY by DAVID LEVITHAN

“It’s as if when you love someone, they become your reason.”

“Kindness connects to who you are, while niceness connects to how you want to be seen.”

“I am always amazed by people who know something is wrong but still insist on ignoring it, as if that will somehow make it go away. They spare themselves the confrontation, but end up boiling in resentment anyway.”

“And once again I think about how people use the devil as an alias for the things they fear. The cause and effect is backward. The devil doesn’t make anyone do anything. People just do things and blame the devil after.”

I found Everyday to be filled with wisdom. A had me living the existence of an intersex teenage soul. I’m yet to a more inclusive first person story. My ebook is littered with highlighted sentences which made me think a lot about my life. The choices I make, my appreciation of my family, friends, lovers, habits and daily routines, my financial status, beliefs and spirituality, my relationship investments and even cybersafety.

“Deep down? That sounds like settling to me. You shouldn’t have to venture deep down in order to get to love.”

I really liked A, the soul character of this novel. Everyday A wakes up in a new teenager’s body and tries to live that person’s life responsibly then leaves. Until A is Justin and falls in love with his girlfriend, Rhiannon. Then it’s everyday in a different body but in love with the same girl. A just don’t stay in love with Rhiannon but finds her everyday in  various bodies to build memories and make her know them. Slowly Rhiannon develops affection for A while enduring her unsatisifying relationship with Justin. I was very happy about their budding romance. There was the monotony of A’s existence which changed to adventure after attending a party in the body of good boy Peter who wanted answers afterwards.  Everyday they and Rhiannon communicated in person or via email was a treat. Their dialogue was honest. 

“Falling in love with someone doesn’t mean you know any better how they feel. It only means you know how you feel.”

A had a lot of wisdom to share with me. I people watch a lot and observe life so I found many realisations true and learnt new things. I agree with writers of other reviews that a major theme of this bestselling novel is identity. Infact, simply reading the novel broadens one’s mind on identity (all its aspects). Almost every reality is reresented through’s A’s journey. From religious teenagers to drug addicted ones to Beyonce-slay, black queen to low-income, buff, white boys and asian teens. Everything—even a Latino gay boyfriend attending pride, menstrual cramping, illegal, immigrant maid and a suicidal girl. It was admirable how responsible A was with each body lived in, sometimes doing something good for the person before midnight. 

“Self-preservation isn’t worth it if you can’t live with the self you’re preserving.”

This novel was character dense. Its Chapters written in number of days, eg. Chapter 5999. All these were tools used by the author to address issues of gender, identity, soulful love,finance and tech, humanity and societal rules.  The narrative was in simple English, honest tone and thought provoking. Written in stream of consciousness and first person point of view, it was intimate and emotional. I really recommend this book which now has a movie adaptation. It was set in various homes across Maryland in the US. Rhiannon’s house was a focal point A and their bodies kept charting to each day. I was upset about the end of the novel but A, always being fair left Rhiannon with a kind of lover she needed while going to find themselves. This amazing read gets four fireworks. if you’d like to know answers to what makes us human and how to live consciously daily. 

“I don’t have the heart to tell him that’s the wrong way to think about the world. There will always be more questions. Every answer leads to more questions. The only way to survive is to let some of them go.”

WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI

WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by SANDHYA MENON

“She wept for her hardheadedness, and for a world that couldn’t just let her be both, a woman in love and a woman with a career, without flares of guilt and self-doubt seeping in and wreaking havoc.”

“You’re going to see a lot of it. People getting ahead unfairly because of the category into which they were born: male or white or straight or rich.”

“This is our life. We get to decide the rules. We get to say what goes and what stays, what matters and what doesn’t. And the only thing I know is that I love you.”

Reading this stellar romantic novel has been Kismet and I know Rishi will agree with me.  I first came across it in June’s feed of some bookstagram accounts. Later when I will research, read then fall in love with YA Romance genre. I’d meet reviews, recommendation posts and sworn oaths about this amazing storyline. I decided to read it because of its main characters. I mean opposites attract right? Two young Indian American teens, one is a modern ‘woman in tech’ while the other is a traditional son who is ‘hobby comic artist’. Both who were matchmade had different views on love, stability and family traditions. Divine!

I appreciate the book being written in chapters alternating between Dimple and Rishi’s point of views. I fell in love with Dimple first then with Rishi faster. It’s also a coming of age novel wrapped in young romance tale. It discusses a lot of questions young ambitious persons with caring families ask. It was delightful that I got to watch Dimple and Rishi warm up to each other after their not so polite first meet. The friendship both characters build becomes a strong foundation for their mutual respect, attraction, and other things. How alive Dimple Shah is, is revitalizing. She would call to me in between lectures and my LL.B research time. Asking if I wasn’t curious about her and Rishi’s app development progress or treasured art in Rishi’s sketchpads or their kissing tab (I kept one). For teenagers, these two were mature, articulate, cultured, brilliant, bright and rightly matched. Their opposing views on family and responsibilities as an Indian child helped each other appreciate life a bit more. I’m now on a search for a bar like the one Rishi took Dimple to on their first non-date turned date night. I mean limited edition books, food and cocktails..sounds like I’m going to be searching Lagos.

Heck, halfway through the books I had mental fan art depictions of petite Dimple with her wild curls and taller Rishi armed with his sun rise smile and gada. Rishi Patel, unlike my suspicions, was kind, sweet, thoughtful and responsible aka a hundred yards of husband material. Their chemistry was erotica gold and fanfic worthy! I’m sure Karl felt it warm him up. Other minor characters also had diverse interests, races, financial backgrounds, personalities which added to the conflict and climax of this YA Romance. Surprisingly, both parents were much more supportive than the heroes felt. The best conflict is usually internal conflict of a character magnified by external conflicts. Sandhya Menon crafted this perfectly with the end of Insomnia Con and other things. Like the author said in her acknowledgements I really did see some sides of myself in Dimple and Rishi. Lord knows how many times I’ve painfully broken off budding love to focus on my career or reality.

It amazing how encompassing the themes and lessons are. Sexual responsibility, signs of growing love, crash course on being a jerk, date slay dressing tips. To sharing the importance of seeking your loved ones happiness, tips on sibling rivalry, peer pressure, planning meaningful dates, evading persistent mothers and kajal, stalking mentors to present an elevator pitch. Should I continue the list? The book was set in San Francisco in present day. The detailed knowledge of comic art and computer programming by the characters made the psychological set robust. With an easy to read vocabulary the writing style was simple but artistic. Vivid imagery, humorous irony, quirky dialogues give this story LIFE!!! There were Indian everyday words to those for food, endearments, feelings, etc. I learnt a few new words (a mean fit for a book to do these days.). The tone was warm, inclusive and descriptive.  I noticed a few contemporary romance clichés reenacted beautifully (eg. the unexpected but fate destined end).

When Dimple met Rishi coffee splashed while hopes soared.  Now the book is over I’ll miss watching Dimple push her glasses up her nose with Rishi or see Rishi smile and sketch characters for their app or being able to roll my eyes when the Aberzombies holler by. Although, I can’t pick out in clear words where the book title is from. It’s in how they first meet and Dimple’s character. Which is perfectly photographed on the book cover. In the beginning was the end, is really clear once you read this. Five bursts of riveting golden fireworks for resolved plot conflicts, answering difficult questions, teaching lessons about family and love.