‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ by Becky Albertalli: Book Review

One of my favourite feelings is when you’ve been non-stop reading a book for hours in one day and finally finishing it at god knows what time in the morning and having that feeling of fulfillment and excitement to share how good it was with people. I had that last night with Becky Albertalli’s ‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda’. It’s a wholesome, funny tale of accepting yourself and falling in love with who you love no matter what. It’s a book for LGBT youth with a happy ending and adorable tidbits to give a feeling of hope.

The story follows seventeen year old Simon Spier who is gay, but isn’t open and not quite ready to come out yet. He lives a very chilled and fun life with a dorky but caring family, supportive, funny best friends and has recently started talking to a guy who is also gay going by the anonymous alias ‘Blue’. The novel shares each email conversation between Blue and Simon (who is also anonymously going by ‘Jacques’) as the story develops and reading Blue and Simon share their favourite food, favourite songs, little memories from their life and how each of them feel about coming out and being gay just put a smile on my face each time because seeing them fall in love and seeing Simon find someone he feels so comfortable with and someone who inspires him to come out was just lovely and precious.

Compared to the film (Love, Simon – which I also recommend watching as it was one of my favourite films of this year!), the book has a lot less ‘drama’ moments and focuses more on Simon’s feelings and him trying to figure out who Blue is. Without spoiling anything, in general Simon’s friends are a lot more accepting and understanding of how Simon acts when he is blackmailed. In the film I found myself angry at his friends for being so selfish and not taking a minute to think of how much of a big deal it was for Simon to have his emails between Blue under blackmail. ‘Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ discusses the topic of coming out and the ‘ceremonial feeling’ of it often and points out the unfair fact that ‘straight’ is seen as the default or the sexuality everybody has until said otherwise and that straight people will never have to come out or worry about people’s reactions when it comes to bringing an opposite sex partner home. Blue also points out the fact that ‘white’ is seen as a default too which is another very interesting point and even Simon corrects himself and takes responsibility for instantly believing Blue could be a white person. The book raises important discussions which I really appreciated and I have to hand Becky Albertalli a lot of credit for being very observant on LGBT topics.

Another interesting point to think about when reading is that Simon is very lucky to have probably the more ‘easy’ end of coming out. His family is already very liberal, his friends instantly accept his sexuality and even when he is teased in school when his sexuality is revealed a lot of classmates are quick to defend him and his teacher ensures the suspension of the homophobic perpetrators. Although reading his coming out story might be a bit of a slap in the face or a bit of a strain on the heart for LGBT people whose family didn’t readily accept them or their coming out story was a lot more stressful, I think the story in itself is very hopeful and heart warming and hopefully is a reminder that good people are out there with open minds and open arms.

The story itself is very adorably written. Simon is instantly lovable with his obsession of Oreos, his sarkiness and slightly moody music taste. His friends and family are also very lovely although in comparison to the film I didn’t like Leah as much in the book as I did the film. I’m hoping reading Albertalli’s next book ‘Leah on the Offbeat’ will clear up some things for me. I really enjoyed how much music came in to play in Simon’s story because I feel people’s playlists can really let you inadvertently know a lot about how the character feels and views themselves or people around them. The soundtrack for the film was already incredible but I really loved taking songs and musicians mentioned in the book and listening to them whilst I read it really gave the whole reading of this book a new, wholesome atmosphere.

There was so many incredibly adorable and funny moments in this book but I don’t want to spoil too much so all I can say is that I highly recommend you read this book! It’s quite a quick read (especially if you find yourself lost in it like I did) but it’s such a feel good book and such a lovely read that I give it a 5/5!

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Thanks for reading,

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‘Alice’ by Christina Henry: Book Review

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by L.Carroll is a story popular for being retold, adapted and used as an inspiration for new projects. The list for film and television programmes based on Alice in Wonderland is big enough to have its own Wikipedia page, the novel has been adapted into musical/stage productions and has even inspired stories and characters in video games. However, another common thing artists and writers take from Alice in Wonderland is twisting it and creating a dark retelling of the tale of the girl falling down the rabbit hole. ‘Alice’ by Christina Henry isn’t the first ‘dark’ and ‘edgy’ retelling of Alice in Wonderland I have come across, as the first one is actually PS3/PC and Xbox 360 game Alice: Madness Returns. A game I actually quite enjoyed growing up!

‘Alice’ the 2015 novel by Christina Henry also almost brought that excitement back to me but this time in written form. Now I will say my first write-up of this and the feelings I had when I finished the book was very similar to how I finish most books which are excited and feeling accomplished! I wrote down how much I adored this retelling and that even though it was disturbing it felt like it succeeded in making a point about the dark topics used. But now I’ve sat back and thought about it, I thought I’d share my honest, spoiler-free review of ‘Alice’.

What I did enjoy about this book is that I enjoyed the inverted characters, I really loved seeing Henry’s dark portrayals of originally beloved characters from the books but this time they’d be antagonists and have very dark, irredeemable pasts. Objects and tropes from the original tale made appearances too such as the ‘Eat Me!’ cupcake and ‘Drink Me!’ bottle, the roses and the tea party. But, this time everything had such a darker symbolism and it was quite clever how Christina had changed this. Even after finishing I’m recalling characters and realising their reference to the original story and being quite intrigued. The story itself played out almost like an RPG, in which there was ‘bosses’ and big bads one after the other, the main characters stopping for rest and food and the main character herself having a power she didn’t even realise she had. I didn’t mind reading it this way and actually quite enjoyed it, I liked imagining in my head what Old City was like and enjoyed that some of the names of places and areas called back to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and if they didn’t (or I couldn’t get the reference) they still brought personality to the world.

However, my biggest gripe with the story is that there was way too much sexual violence. I get this was meant to be a mature, disturbing retelling where there will be horror, gore and blood and I could get behind that and in some novels and stories I can understand why rape, abuse and violence comes up and if the victims manage to get a happy ending, revenge and the story emphasizes how horrible it is, I can normally accept a story having it. What I think went wrong in ‘Alice’ however is, although the story is clear the trade of young girls for sexual purposes or being eaten is horrific and the men that puppeteer this need to be punished, the way it’s written feels like they tried to emphasize how horrible it is by making it happen so often, by describing Alice’s trauma in detail, and having every female in the story basically either terrified of being raped or had been. Even then, I personally felt the final fights with the main antagonists that were rapists or allowing this violence and abuse were so anti-climatic that there was no justice? There was a scene of freeing a bunch of girls from the horrible trade and I was grateful for that scene but it’s almost as if the original plot had one antagonist in mind and then it was said the story was not brutal enough or ‘real world dark’ enough so they added in all this sexual violence?

Personally, I found myself gripped to parts of this book and did want to find out the outcome of every character and felt myself wanting Alice to get revenge and justice not just for herself but for all the females in the story. I did also find myself quite wanting to read the sequel book (Red Queen -and pray that hopefully the level of sexual violence is remarkably toned down) just so I can find out what happens next in the story.

I’d rate ‘Alice’ about a 2.5 of 5 as it has some cool fantasy ideas and I could somehow picture it in a film or video game but after sitting back I do see the flaws in how parts of it were written. Shock value is popular for a reason, popular media like Game of Thrones is widely watched and read for a reason and I feel the reason is purely that people are so shocked and astonished by what characters do and think it’s so out of the blue (and normally it is, sometimes very out of character) that they must finish it to find out what happens! I definitely succumbed to that reading this. I enjoyed parts of it but in general was very much turned off by the use of sexual violence and rape as shock value. Would I like to read any of the other stories by Christina Henry such as Lost Boy? Possibly. But ‘Alice’ in itself is a story not for everyone.

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Thank you for reading!

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How I got the motivation back for reading and writing

Long time, no blog!

Two days ago it was my 22nd birthday! It’s mad to think when I started writing this blog I was only 19 and still in the midst of figuring out if I wanted to go to University or carry on looking for full-time jobs, I remember being in the struggle of being made redundant from a dodgy apprenticeship company and just about finding what I loved to do – which is writing. So much has changed and I have changed a lot since being a teenager but I still sometimes feel like my 19-year-old self. However, I’m glad that writing and reading have become such a big passion in my life now whilst being in my early twenties (what a scary sentence to say!) and I feel it’s something that relaxes me and motivates me.

Obviously going back to University and especially doing a course that revolves around language and literature helped me get back motivation in reading and writing, but I definitely don’t find myself reading non-ficiton and textbooks for fun and I do still dread coursework and essays and procrastinate. But now I find that reading regularly definitely improves my concentration and even my writing skills. Last Winter, I got a wonderful opportunity to write poems for a University exhibition and in one of my modules I had to write so many words of my own contemporary novel – when I took the drafts to my tutor to get the feedback he told me my writing has improved massively since my first year and I definitely think reading has helped without me even realising!

I’d recommend keeping track of what books you have enjoyed and read too so you can look back and remember the stories and how they made you feel. I use a GoodReads account to keep track of the books I’ve read but also love posting them on my Instagram and sharing little reviews of what I thought! I’d also recommend maybe trying beloved classics or new genres to mix it up and surprise yourself! Last year I made a start on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and ended up falling in love with it and starting my own little Austen collection which I hope to get through this year! I’m currently in the middle of Emma and have a weird adoration for how Austen writes.

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When it comes to writing and studying, I definitely feel setting up your own little study area in your house or keeping your notes colourful and interesting! For a while, I’ve been absolutely obsessed with a theme on Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest called ‘studyspo’ (Study Inspiration). People post their notes, diaries, bullet journals, desk setups and the different techniques they’ve used and it’s just really motivating because I look at them and think ‘Wow I wish I had my stuff all together like theirs!’. You don’t even need to have the high-end stuff they may have, simply getting cheap colourful fine-liners, highlighters, a pen and a cute notebook and you can transform your boring notes to something you have interest in and keeps in your memory. Another tip that goes hand in hand with that is definitely taking notes by hand. It’s been said that writing your notes by hand and paraphrasing them in your own words helps facts and information stick in your brain a lot faster than typing them up. I personally like to try and scribble down all my notes in class or downloading what tutors have put up on the student access site (e.g Blackboard) and making time to carefully rephrase and write them out again in a cute notebook with pretty handwriting so I can spend more time taking it in.

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Finally, I started my own bullet journal this year. I tried a little one last year and decided to take the plunge and get a gorgeous hardback notebook in London which I have made my bullet journal. These are great because you can design them how you want, make the spreads whatever you want and cater it to you and your priorities. In mine so far, as well as typical weekly diary spreads, I have made pages to remind me what books and films I’d like to discover this year, a calendar where I can colour each day in to match my mood so I can keep track of it and even a pretty page for my dungeons and dragons character! So many people have gotten into this and you can get inspiration off youtube, pinterest and instagram!

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I hope you enjoyed this and that it may even give you a bit of inspiration! I may in the future share some of my favourite Instagram handles and Pinterest boards I’ve made that have inspired me and motivated me!

Thank you for reading,

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Books I read in 2017

Happy 2018!

I say, 20 days late! 2017 was a year of up and downs for me; majority of it was the rest of my first year at University, as well as studying I also took part in two performances with my university’s theatre company, visited Dublin and Prestatyn, went to concerts, went to my first Pride festival and lots of other happy memories. One thing I was particularly proud of in 2017 was how many books I managed to read. I’ve always loved reading since I was tiny but during high school and afterwards, I drifted away from reading as a hobby and always struggled to try to find the time and the motivation to sit down and concentrate on a book. Luckily this year, the motivation and drive suddenly came back to me and I fell back in love with reading, bookshops, libraries and literature all over again and I am so thankful for it. Unfortunately, a downside of last year is I neglected my blog massively, which I blame partly on trying to focus on University and get used to the new routine and also blame on just laziness in general but I did manage to crack out two book reviews on my blog last year! You can read them here and here!

I thought I’d share some of the books I managed to read last year and what I thought of them, as well as talk about books I plan to read this year and ones I’d like to read! This list is in no particular order and not in any particular ‘rating’ and doesn’t include every book that I read this year:

  1. Too Close to Home by Aoife Walsh

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Ironically I first mentioned this book back in a blog post in February 2016! Only took me until October 2017 to finish it! I still stand by my original thoughts that Aoife’s novel reminds me of coming of age/YA stories like Ally’s World, which I used to read back in year 7 and 8. It tells the story of Minny who lives in a big, confusing family – where the father and mother are separated and Minny feels like she has to also help take care of her younger sister, baby brother and older sister Aisling who is autistic. I also enjoyed this book because I personally felt Aoife wrote an autistic character well and didn’t draw unnatural attention to how Aisling acted in situations and such. The novel also has typical YA novel topics like family problems, crushes and bullying. Overall I did quite enjoy it, I’m not in any rush to reread it and you can definitely tell it is a young adult novel – but I still enjoyed it and I’m very glad I finally finished it!

2. We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

After finishing this novel I was completely enamoured by it and the concepts discussed/implied in the story. Not spoiling any twists or big plot points but the story eventually brings up the question of humanity in animals, specifically primates and if they can remember family and if similar bonds between family members can be shown between a human and primate. The story was so surprising and different to other books I have read that once I hit a particular chapter or point in the book where a lot of things became revealed, I found myself glued to the book – not wanting to put it down. I’d love to read another book of Karen Joy Fowler’s as this novel is probably the book of 2017 that brought me back into reading regularly.

3. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

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I now actually claim this novel as my favourite book, that is how much I enjoyed it. Not only that, I absolutely adore Ishiguro’s style of writing and when I found out that he had won the Nobel prize in Literature I was so proud to be a fan of his work because he is so talented and definitely deserves the prize. I went into detail about Never Let Me Go on a previous review on my blog, but let me tell you – this book has such a natural, raw narration from the main character that you find emotions hitting you for hours after you’ve finished the story.

4. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

The Shock of the Fall was included on one of my University module reading lists, and that is actually how I ended up reading it but the story was so real and impactful that I ended up sitting for hours not putting my kindle down because I needed to know what happened. I will warn that the story’s themes largely include mental health, schizophrenia, depression, suicide and death. The main protagonist had his flaws and parts of him that you’d find yourself reading and wanting to argue or yell at him but other times you’d pity him. In some parts of the novel, I found myself getting goosebumps because of how blunt and honest the character was and how dark the story could get. But I felt this was good writing because it didn’t romanticize mental health disorders, it didn’t paint them as something that one day would be magically cured, it showed how bleak it could be. That it could happen to anyone, that the symptoms can be far and near from what people expect. In general, I definitely recommend this book because it is so powerful and so well written.

I’m currently trying to power through Jane Austen’s Emma. I do love Austen’s stories and her writing, but sometimes when I’m tired it does take a couple of going over the same paragraph again to try and take in what happened in the scene and sometimes I mix characters up – but I am enjoying it and plan to finish it! Other books I have in my book box ready to read include

  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  • Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
  • Georgia, Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
  • Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
  • City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  • Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher

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So wish me luck! Hopefully I can read way more books this year than I did last! Feel free to share what books you loved in 2017, or any 2018 releases you are looking forward to!

I am also on GoodReads if you’d like to give me a follow!

Thanks for reading,

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Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro: Book Review

“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.” 

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The story of how I discovered and decided to buy the Kazuo Ishiguro novel, Never Let Me Go, is actually quite funny – me and my mum were watching Pointless over dinner, we love trying to answer the questions on it and seeing if we’d do well if we were on the show. It’s actually a typical dinnertime thing that happens that I look forward to because obviously I love bonding with my mum. But this one episode the category was books shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and this book came up and my mum asked if I had heard of it because Ishiguro’s books were meant to be highly spoken of and from there I looked up the summary on it and added it to my to read list! I’ll say this though, the blurb only hints so little of how many interesting themes and the amazing story in this novel.

Photo 10-11-2017, 03 28 42.jpgKazuo Ishiguro is a Nobel-Prize winning novelist, short story writer and screenwriter. He was born in Nagasaki, Japan but him and his family moved to Guildford, Surrey when Ishiguro was the age of 5. Interestingly enough, Ishiguro’s first novel was the thesis he wrote in his Master of Arts in Creative Writing – I love finding these kind of things out about authors/novelists because it gives me inspiration and hope almost to continue with my own writing and trying to improve. This is my first Ishiguro novel to read but after finishing Never Let Me Go, I would love to read some of his other novels. His writing flows beautifully and the tones and emotions he puts into scenes are beautifully executed.

(Reading warning: Spoilers from here on out)

Never Let Me Go follows the reminiscing of Kathy H. She is a thirty-one year old carer and has had this job for almost twelve years. She talks about her time at a place called Hailsham which is pretty much a boarding school that her and many other students, which all have something in common, attend. Throughout the book she talks about childhood memories like watching other students prank a boy named Tommy, the different guardians (pretty much teachers) they have, how they can attend exchanges and sales to pick up secondhand items and art for their collections and the most peculiar experience of them all – how a mysterious woman they all call ‘Madame’ visits every so often to look at different kind of art the students create and take the art away.

Nostalgia and memories are big themes in Never Let Me Go, as the story is made up of a lot of memories Kathy has of Hailsham, her best friend Ruth, a boy named Tommy and when they move into cottages after Hailsham. However during their time at Hailsham, the students discover something about themselves and their future which separates them from any usual child – A) they’re clones and B) they’re destined to give away their vital organs until ‘completion'(death) before they even hit middle age.

“None of you will go to America, none of you will be film stars. And none of you will be working in supermarkets as I heard some of you planning the other day. Your lives are set out for you. You’ll become adults, then before you’re old, before you’re even middle-aged, you’ll start to donate your vital organs. That’s what each of you are created to do. You’re not like the actors you watch on your videos, you’re not even like me. You were brought into this world for a purpose, and your futures, all of them, have been decided.” 

What is so interesting about this twist to me, is that it wasn’t an ending twist, it wasn’t like a massive emotional dagger to stick in the characters, and in fact Kathy isn’t even shocked by it. It comes at the end of part 1 and I did almost find myself going ‘how could they keep this from them?’ and maybe expecting the rest of the story to be Kathy, Tommy and Ruth escaping from their fate. Although, that does almost happen, eventually in the story, the main three hear a rumour that finding Madame and proving two clones are in true love can defer becoming a donor and they do go on a journey to try to discover this – the ending is very bittersweet and does end with the accepted fate for Ruth and Tommy. Kathy is still alive at the end of the story but we are safe to assume she will go on to become a donor like her past friends and students.

After I finished the book, a lot of the afterthoughts and what this story means to me and how interesting the themes didn’t actually hit me until an hour after. Like I said, nostalgia and memories are a big theme in it and I think what’s really educational and inspiring about Ishiguro’s story is that the difference between Ruth and Kathy is Kathy holds onto her memories, the quote at the beginning of my review is actually said by Kathy, she doesn’t ever try to deny her past or even mistakes she’s made or arguments she’s gotten into compared to her best friend Ruth who when they move on from Hailsham has moments of possibly forgetting memories of Hailsham and pretending she’s past of it, she even confesses to Kathy that she asked the caretaker of the cottages they live in after Hailsham to take away her old stuff from school. I resonated massively with Kathy because I hoard so much stuff from growing up, I keep diaries, I keep journals, I have a notebook where I try to write down every positive memory or thing that happens, I have a box in my room that I put stuff that reminds me of happy times (old tickets, photos etc.), I keep my old teddies from childhood, I keep all my old schoolbooks etc. etc., I’m obsessed with keeping memories close to me and keeping as much as I can in my thoughts. Kathy and Ruth’s lives are so much shorter and planned out than mine and because of Kathy keeping all these memories, look at the story it provided – I think it just shows how important memories and nostalgia is and how bittersweet it can be.

The other theme and afterthought that stuck with me is the themes of time and morality – a quote that actually comes from the movie adaption of the book really spoke to me too: ‘We All Complete.’. It basically sticks with me in the way the saying ‘memento mori’ sits with me – our time on earth is timed and not limitless, we need to appreciate the time we have on earth and appreciate the memories we make. Why didn’t Kathy, Ruth and Tommy run from their fates? Because it’s what they were taught since childhood, although subliminally, and they know nothing else – much like us humans. We know nothing else than to live our lives out as long as possible, stay healthy and try to follow our dreams.

I just love that this story haunted me even after reading it, it kept me thinking and bringing up the story to my mum to get my thoughts on it out – this book would be so good for book clubs because there’s so much you can discuss. It makes you think so much about mortality and a different view on growing up although Kathy’s memories are not different and unique because of her being a clone – they are so human and she has stories that a lot of people could resonate with. I really recommend picking up the book, it was shortlisted for a Man Booker Prize for a reason!

You can purchase ‘Never Let Me Go’ by Kazuo Ishiguro for £6.99 on Waterstones. UNIDAYs also do a 10% student discount (online only).

Thank you for reading,

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Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi: Book Review

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In June this year, I bought and downloaded ‘Homegoing’ by Yaa Gyasi onto my tablet, and I finally completed it today and it was such a different book from the ones I normally read and very relevant for the UK’s Black History Month that I wanted to talk about it. It is an amazing piece of literature definitely deserving a review. 

Yaa Gyasi is a Ghanaian-American novelist and Homegoing is her debut novel. At only 26 she has already won awards for this novel and of course, they are well deserved. According to her Wikipedia, Homegoing was inspired by a trip to her home country of Ghana, that she had not visited since being an infant. Homegoing is a phrase used for African-American funerals and is a big part of the culture and history. Back in the days of the slave trade, slaves believed death meant their soul would ‘go home’ and return to their native place in Africa. Of course, as the novel starts in the 18th century and explores the theme of slavery so raw and bluntly, I can see why Gyasi used this as a title. Of course, when I started reading I knew deep down this book was going to be more educational to me than it would ever be empathetic because this is a book of black history and the suffering, discrimination and such African people went through from 18th century onwards. I think it is a good idea for white people to read stories like this as it’s stories that are true and need to be told. Not forgotten. So many people went through so many things to even get to where we are today and in recent stories such as the rise of Black Lives Matters, the obvious problem of racism in many industries and shootings of black youth by police – it’s very important to remember we’ve still got a long way to go in learning from our ancestor’s discrimination and cruelty.


Admittedly I was terrible with keeping up on my reading on the first few chapters of Homegoing but I don’t put that down to the writing or topic at all. I’m very bad for procrastinating reading. But recently I picked up Homegoing again and got sucked back in and even between University classes or on the tram home I have found myself wishing I had more time to ‘just finish this chapter’ or ‘find out who the next character is’. Each character was so different but I loved how you could trace back the relatives and descendants to the original characters of Effia and Esi. Family/ancestors are an important theme in this story. It also explores two regions of Ghana, the Ashanti people and the Fante. From reading this I am so in love and amazed by Gyasi’s knowledge and research of her culture and the past of Ghana. Even at the end of the book I looked at her list of references and was incredibly impressed. The passion to spread the knowledge and history of Ghana is so amazing and Gyasi is an incredible author and writes each character so beautifully and makes each of their stories so unique, that you find yourself glued to the book intrigued.

Gyasi does not spare anything writing the honest past of these characters and how some of them lived through well-known history including the African Slave Trade, the Plantation era, segregation in the US, riots, war on drugs etc., it left me feeling like I had gotten a more honest and powerful insight to how people of colour experienced these times. A quote that stood out to me massively about half way through the book was:

“We believe the one who has power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history you must ask yourself, Whose story am I missing?, Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there you get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.” 

This stood out because I think it’s a quote and question to ask yourself even now. What’s in the history books in school in the US isn’t always correct. Things are missed out, people are missed out. Think of the Ferguson riots and many other riots after innocent black youth had been killed after. Thankfully on Twitter, people are lot more quick to notice the anomalies, but there was so many call outs for ‘trustworthy’ media ignoring important facts or honest stories from black witnesses. Media would paint the white policeman as a victim and the barely even adolescent black child as not. In this day and age, racism is systematic and history is changed to suit those who are in charge.


As I prepared to write this review, I actually scanned over other people’s reviews and one talked about how most ‘the past of slavery’ centered books tend to just be there to shock and upset. I don’t really agree and I definitely think Homegoing is different from that. It doesn’t give you a bird’s eye view, it puts you right there in the character’s shoes. It takes you through generations to see how, even though the African slave trade is in the past, things still effect people of colour today. There is still lasting effects and that we shouldn’t ever forget about it. It’s not something we can brush under a rug or let a white leader convince us that it’s all ‘over and done with’.

I wanted to make this a spoiler-free review but I’ll mention briefly, the ending characters who close the book for me were based in the 21st century, I’m guessing around 2001. The final female character, Marjorie, takes our final male character Marcus back to Ghana where she grew up, more specifically, the Cape Coast. The story itself starts with fire and fire is actually a prominent theme throughout the story, however as the two characters stand on the beach in the sun there is this one paragraph:

She walked to where he stood, where the fire met the water. He took her hand and they both looked out into the abyss of it. The fear that Marcus had felt inside the castle was still there, but he knew it was like the fire, a wild thing that could still be controlled, contained.”

I thought this was such an amazing little scene that I actually wrote it down. I loved the contrasting symbolism of starting with a fire and ending with water. I can never spot or decipher exactly what this symbolism could have meant to the author but I feel it was to maybe be a metaphor for the character’s futures. The vast, big sea on the coast of Ghana, the character’s ancestors homes – where it all started. To show despite all of the anger, distress, brutality, violence and suffering the characters go through during the book, they are still there. They are still strong and part of the Earth. Their ancestries are important stories to the Earth and despite how horrible the world can be, people will keep fighting. The ocean scene is almost like a healing scene compared to the rest of the book, although it is clear you are meant to understand that racism and discrimination is still rampant, the two characters are given a moment of peace and clarity, of happiness.

I think this is definitely a novel to pick up this year and read as it is so educational and relevant even now. The cover art I have seen for it is also beautifully illustrated and it’s just such a raw, enthralling book that I might consider getting a physical copy for myself to read again in the future.

Thank you for reading, Homegoing is currently available here on Amazon UK

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My To Read List before I start University

Recently I’ve been filling in my UCAS application to go to University in September next year. For people who don’t know what UCAS is, it is basically the online application to apply for up to 5 University courses, you attach a personal statement and reference and patiently wait to get interview offers from your desired places of education. I am eager to try and get into the University of Leeds or Manchester Met University next year and study a course that entails either English Literature or Creative Writing. I have been wildly motivated the past few days about my future University plans, I’ve even been gazing over prospectuses during my work breaks and daydreaming about what I will study.

Obviously to study English Literature you want to be a massive fan of Literature, which I am, just I am terrible with reading. I love reading and I love different pieces of literature including fiction, non-fiction and poems. I remember reading Carol Ann Duffy’s poem ‘Medusa’, in my GCSE English Literature and absolutely falling in love with it, the writing gives you Medusa’s own outlook of the curse she is given and I find the lines;

“Be terrified.
It’s you I love,
perfect man, Greek God, my own;
but I know you’ll go, betray me, stray
from home.
So better by for me if you were stone.”

Really powerful. You empathize with the woman and her feelings of distrust and anger towards Poseidon, who in traditional mythology, seduced her and when they were intimate, Athena cursed her for being un-loyal. However Poseidon was never punished and in this poem, it’s almost as if Medusa is warning him. Her curse makes people she makes eye contact with turn to lifeless stone. She is warning him to watch out and be scared because she loves him and she will look at him and yearn and he runs the risk of being turned to stone.

But this isn’t an essay on poetry. This blog post is me writing down a list to myself of what literature I want to read before I start any University in September 2016.

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (currently reading)
  2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  3. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  5. The Martian by Andy Weir
  6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  7. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  9. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
  10. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  11. The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George
  12. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

So yeah! When I finish these books I’ll try and write posts about it to get back into the swing of reading deeper into stories and relating.

Thanks for reading,

Helena x x