Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab

Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself

Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself by Nedra Glover Tawwab

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think every young person needs to read this book, either prior to their senior year of high school or before they are 21 years old. This book is so vital to establishing, maintaining, and cultivating healthy relationships.

Growing up as a Black female child to parents who came of age in the 60s and 70s, my boundaries most often than not have been blurred or non-existent. Reading this book, I’ve also realized that my parents did not know or understand what healthy boundaries looked like for themselves, so this lesson of how to erect healthy boundaries were never shared with me as a child of the 80s. Now, well into my 40s, I’m learning and unlearning things all the time to help me heal and cope from my childhood. I also seek out resources to help me parent my own children better because I know I didn’t receive the type of healthy parenting I most likely needed to be a more well-rounded and self-sufficient individual.

Tawwab though shares through examples and experiences of some clients, how to go about setting healthy boundaries for a more positive experience in life and with others. Tawwab discusses what poor boundaries may look like, what poor relationships may feel like, and what to do about correcting the issues in your relationships and how to advocate for the boundaries you need in order to help you find the well-deserved peace you are looking for. I spent a considerable amount of time reading and writing notes to help me better understand where I am, and where I want to go after reading this book and incorporating strategies and techniques of boundary setting in my own life.

Tawwab is very clear in her message of how to do this, and it sounds so simple to do as you read, but she warns you of some of the pushback and side-effects (i.e., guilt) that may befall you as you take this journey into setting healthy boundaries. This book does not share that this is an easy process. She is almost adamant that setting boundaries is a difficult process, but necessary. I’m thankful that she did not try to sugar-coat or appease her readers thinking that this is simple to do… it is not. We have been going about our lives doing life in various modes, and this is going to be new, and it’s going to stretch you. The results though will be worth it if you stick with it. The examples she provides are real and relatable and life-changing. I can’t recommend this book enough! This book will definitely be something I will give to young people as graduation gifts or whenever. The sooner people learn how to create healthy boundaries for themselves, the happier they will be with the life they want to have.

I am a person who suffers from having unhealthy boundaries with various people in my life and this book spoke life into me! So if you are a person who knows how to say no, or how to establish boundaries with people, maybe this book might be too simplistic for you. However, to others who need to learn how to say no more definitively, who struggle with certain family members, who are not happy with various relationships they have with people and themselves, this book might be for you. I highly encourage everyone to read it, as it still can impart knowledge and refreshment to help you stay on course or help you establish a course for you to thrive on. Either way, it’s a win for me. 5 stars!

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Angel of Greenwood by Randi Pink

Angel of Greenwood

Angel of Greenwood by Randi Pink

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A historical fiction YA romance novel that shares beauty and pain in the lives of two teenagers, Angel and Isaiah. The two of them are living and growing up in Greenwood, Oklahoma; home of “Black Wall Street”, as Booker T. Washington has called this town. Due to racial tensions, segregation, and white supremacy, the Black people in Oklahoma, have carved out a plot of land for them to enjoy and reap the benefits of their labor for themselves. However, as it always goes, when Black people succeed, white supremacy decides to destroy it and take away the limited freedom Black people try to enjoy amongst themselves.

If you don’t know the background behind the bombing of Greenwood, you should definitely read up on it. One of the single deadliest killings of Black people in history, was the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921. A mob of white men bombed 35 blocks of Greenwood, left 10,000 Black people homeless, destroyed $1.5 million in real estate and $750,00 in personal property, and up to 300 Black people were killed, in a span of 2 days, over an alleged incident where white men accused a Black man of assaulting a white woman in an elevator.

This book however, doesn’t necessarily center itself over this story, but tells a budding love story in the midst of the lead up to May 31, 1921, when the Race Massace happened. This story is supposed to share the love between these two teenagers, and how they rallied together along with others in their community to help everyone somehow survive the deadliest thing that could’ve happened to them in their lives. The author’s note in the back describes how she wanted to tell a love story of two kids falling in love without fear or pain, but also share how Black people have had to deal with white supremacy all of their lives and in all facets, to include just being Black in their own neighborhood.

This book also takes a look at the differences between Booker T. Washingon’s philosophy and W.E.B. DuBois’ philosophy in how Black people should be, live, work, and enjoy life. Booker T. Washington believed in passivity, where W.E.B. DuBois did not. Matter of fact, DuBois probably greatly disliked Booker T. Washington’s take on life. Washington believed in waiting white people out. Living peacefully and passively in hopes that the white people would reconcile their differences on their own and see how we are docile and not creating trouble, but living within our means, making life simple and easy, and learning to build our own things up from the ground. DuBois believed that being docile was being a punk, basically. That if we didn’t go out and aggressively pursue what we wanted, it would never be given. DuBois was assertive, bold, and decisive, and did not care for Washington’s philosophy. These two ideals come together when Isaiah and Angel have to work together on a bookmobile in their community. They are both passionate about what they believe is the right way to live, and at the end, they both come to an understanding of how Washington and DuBois have influenced their thinking.

Another aspect to this story is about how love is needed everywhere, and when love is not available, hate is able to creep in. It is only when you make a conscious effort to love all, you then start to understand what’s important and how to work out your differences.

For me this book started off really slow. Introducing you to Angel and Isaiah in their own way, counting down to the day in which their world comes to a complete stop. However, the counting down made me anticipate a much bigger ending than what happened, but overall, it was a decent read for YA. The book wasn’t heavy on history, which I guess is something most YA readers would enjoy, as it still gave some historical account to the deadliest event that happened to Black people in history. Yet, I really wanted to have a much better picture of the racial tensions in Tulsa during that time. There is only one incident that occurred between the white people on the other side of the tracks and the residents of Greenwood, and it seemed like the massacre just happened out of nowhere. I’m sure the white residents who could see the success of the Black people were constantly edging in on their side threatening to do something all the time, but that aspect of the atmosphere in Tulsa was not present in this book. I feel like that was a missed opportunity because the massive event seemingly came from out of nowhere.

Overall, this book was decent. It could have been so much more though, and that is something that has stuck with me since finishing this book. The ending was but a few pages, and more than half of the book was setting up who the two teenagers were in their own right. I feel like the author spent way too much of the book not dealing with the real world that was going on in Tulsa in 1921, that the ending felt rushed and underdeveloped.

I rated this a 3.5 and rounded up because it is a lovely read mostly, but I was a bit disappointed in the ending and the missing racial tensions that I’m sure was there in this community since it’s inception.

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Slip by Marika McCoola and Aatmaja Pandya


Slip by Marika McCoola

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A graphic novel that follows a teen named Jade who is going off to Art camp. However, before she arrives, she learns that her best friend Penelope has attempted suicide and is in the hospital. Jade begins to assess her emotions as she embarks on this great opportunity of having her work possibly chosen for an art scholarship, but she finds she’s unable to focus and work consistently due to the emotions she has over her friend Penelope and her attempted suicide.

This topic of suicide is very important to young adults everywhere, and adults too, but the way the writing chose to pursue Jade’s emotions over Penelope, who was actually going through the traumatic event of attempted suicide, left me feeling kind of empty. Albeit, Penelope is a teenager, and her mom was there to help navigate the situation, but it seems like the book focused on Jade’s feelings, instead of the person who was actually in need of care and attention. I personally didn’t enjoy that aspect. However, I do see a point of exploring the emotions of a friend who is close to the person going through the emotional turmoil and distress of suicidal ideation. Also, there is an unexpected romance between Jade and another student, which seemed super inappropriate as Jade hasn’t even had a chance to figure out her feelings with Penelope and the attempted suicide. The insta-romance felt rushed, and unnecessary, especially without strong character development.

The graphics were very nicely drawn, but seeing that this book also centered around an Art Camp, I would have appreciated the drawings in color, instead of the black and white. Seems like there should have been more to the art in the book due to the fact it was based around an art camp with competitive art work.

Not sure with graphic novels and character development, as there may not be enough “time or space” to discuss a ton about the various characters, but all of the characters seemed flat and uninteresting, and even a bit annoying.

To be honest, I really didn’t like the fact that the book centered around Jade’s “pain” of not knowing the signs of her friend’s attempted suicide. It didn’t seem like Jade was too concerned about Penelope, but was “suffering” because Penelope wasn’t emotionally available for Jade to go through this Art camp with her.

Though I appreciated the inclusion of queer characters, and the talk regarding suicide, the execution was poor for the work overall. 2 stars.

Topics discussed:
– Teen suicide
– Mental health

TW: attempted suicide, mention of cutting/self-harm, illustration of cutting marks.

Thank you to the publisher, Algonquin Young Reader, and the author Marika McCoola and illustrator, Aatmaja Pandya for this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse

Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky, #2)

Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second book in the series of Between the Earth and Sky, Fevered Star is here as the middle book in the series. I was kind of expecting the dreaded “middle book” phenomenon that sort of happens with trilogies, but this book didn’t feel so in the middle. The pacing from the beginning was spot on, the fact that Serapio has survived was amazing to read because who doesn’t love Serapio!! Xiala, Narampa, Ikthan, Balam, and the others from book one came back to fiercely rock this second book like a champ!

In this book, much backstory unfolds, and we learn more about Carrion Crow clan, Tova, Hokiaia, Narampa, The Meridian, and the politics and religious fanatics that believe everything about the Crow God. I mean, the whole of this book was great. I really appreciated the worldbuilding that Roanhorse does here, it’s near perfection! The character development is impeccable, and these people FEEL real!

Narampa’s backstory and future in this whole world was surprisingly good. I didn’t like her so much from the first book, Black Sun, but she earned my respect from her in this book.

Xiala and her backstory was much needed, as she’s so much of a mystery in the book and to the people she keeps herself around. Though there is a anticipated budding relationship with her and Serapio, it’s seems so fitting and natural, and I can’t wait to see more of them.

Serapio is everyon’e hopes and dreams. I really am liking his newfound awareness of himself, and his responsibility to the followers of the Crow God. I’m so happy that he’s “waking up” to what’s been going on in the clans and how and why people are they way they are while following this religion that he now comes to realize is possibly using him.

There were some surprises that you learn in this second book that I didn’t know I needed, but I am so glad to have read this book. This high fantasy series is going down as one of my absolute favorites. Like all things in series, that second book is mostly filler and backstory dumpster fires, but this second book is nothing like that. There is movement, and you can tell the final story is going to be an epic closer. There are still a ton of questions that I have after reading this book, but I know that Roanhorse is not going to disappoint us.

I also listened to the second book, where I read the physical copy of the first book. I think at the time of trying to read this book I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, and just had to listen to it to get through it, but when I picked up the physical second book, I started to re-read right away. This series can do that to you where you don’t get tired of what’s going on or the characters. I do wish that I had more information on the religious sect that the Crow God is under to really see and feel what these people feel, but maybe we will get more in the third book. Looking back at the first and now second book, it seems very extremist to dedicate and mold a young boy into the Crow God and him not really understand his exact purpose and why… he has went along with this for all his life, and only now that he’s still alive after assuring him that his purpose is to die, still has him wondering what most of all this is for. The third book is definitely going to be interesting in closing up many of the lose ties from the second book.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this entire series to everyone. 4 stars.

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