Leslie's Bookcase

celebrating and recommending unforgettable books

Category: Social Justice

Buy this book for a teenager – The Hate U Give

I just finished The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, the book it seems like “everyone is reading” and loving. This book currently has 4.72/5.0 stars on Goodreads!

Starr Carter is a 16-year-old black girl who has already witnessed the shooting deaths of two of her friends. The second of which is the basis of this book.

Her friend Khalil is unarmed and is shot by police while reaching for a hairbrush. This particular story is fiction. But it is inspired by and pays tribute to all those stories which are not fiction. The rest of the novel follows the aftermath and investigations in to the death and Starr’s personal journey to use her own voice to seek justice for Khalil.

“People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice,” notes Starr.

I picked this book up with high expectations, not only because of the buzz surrounding it but also because this is a topic I am passionate about.

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Reflections on Hillbilly Elegy

An elegy by definition is “a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead.”

J.D. Vance’s new memoir, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, currently a bestseller and a hot item with a long waiting list at any public library is certainly a serious reflection on his growing up a “hillbilly,” and it does express grief for his grandparents, both for whom I cried real tears while reading this book.

Early on he says the book is about how this culture (Kentucky Appalachia and Ohio Rust Belt) is known for “reacting to bad circumstances in the worst way possible. It’s about a culture that increasingly encourages social decay instead of counteracting it.”

Vance can talk about these problems in a way others can’t get away with because he lived through it himself and somehow came out a Yale-educated lawyer.

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Beyond the Bookcase: The Hidden Life of Trees

One of my goals for the new year is to read at least six environmental books. My first was a beautiful book about how trees in a forest feel and communicate: The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World. Did you know research shows trees behave like human families and human communities? Tree parents live with their children, communicating and supporting them. The trees in a undisturbed forest also function socially, helping the sick and warning each other of dangers.

The author Peter Wohlleben is a forester in Germany; his book was recently translated into English due to high demand.

The book starts out like a love song to trees and forests (and this was my favorite part!) and then it continues on like a layman’s textbook teaching how trees grow, survive, and die. Most interesting (to me ) is that the trees in forests work together for the success of all.

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Shaka Senghor’s story of redemption – through reading and writing

Shaka Senghor’s compelling memoir is about redemption.

The text of Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison moves back and forth between two segments of Senghor’s life: his life as a teenager who started dealing crack at age 14 and his life as a convicted murderer in prison for 19 years.

The story lines, which eventually read as a complete life story, are informative, distressing, and eventually hopeful and powerful.

As Shaka explains the series of situations and choices that led him to commit a murder and end up in prison, it does not read as excuses. It read so that I could truly understand how it all could happen. In fact, I would have been more surprised if he didn’t end up in prison for something.

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