In Loving Memory of Michele Serros

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In 2007, I moved back home from college in the middle of the semester because my mom had cancer. At the same time, I was losing “friends” and some of them also made fun of me for being too “white washed.” This was a hard time for me, because I felt like I was losing everything, my friends, my mother, my identity.  I never felt so alone before. During this time, I did what I always do. I tried to find solace at a bookstore. While I was there, I did something that was radical for my personality at the time; I went to the “Hispanic literature” section. That’s when I saw a title that stuck out to me: Chicana Falsa. I was in the middle of the bookstore laughing, and looking around to make sure no one was looking. I had this gut feeling, if I walked out of that bookstore without that book I was going to regret it. So I bought the book, and it became the book that changed my life for the better. Michele Serros helped me piece together the broken pieces of my identity. Chicana Falsa became my best friend, when I barely had any friends. I can’t imagine any other book doing what this book did for me.

I found her on myspace and contacted her. I told her I found her book, and I couldn’t wait to one day meet her at one of her book signings. She responded jokingly: Why wait? I’ll see you at your next family barbeque (not exactly but something along those lines). We communicated every now and again, from my initial message to her. Then in 2010, I wrote her a letter explaining why her book meant so much to me, and asked her to come speak at my school. She agreed. A few days before she came to my school, she tried to prank call me. She called my phone saying I had an overdue ticket for an expired license plate tag.  However, the prank failed because I didn’t have a car. We laughed about it and talked for a few minutes.  Then a few days later, she came to my school. I wore a green jacket, which reminded her of Lindsay Weir from Freaks and Geeks. So she nicknamed me Lindsay. I wasn’t Cristina anymore. I was Lindsay. She treated me like we had been best friends for years, even though it was our first meeting.

Honestly, I can’t articulate everything I want to say about her in a few measly  lines. This isn’t the first time I have tried to write something up about her, and post it publicly. My messy online scribbles will never capture the amazing person she was and howc much her books meant to me…how much SHE meat to me. For now, all I can do is hope she is resting in peace and power.

I want to wrap this up with two links: one to her facebook page and the other to her giveforward campaign. Please, if you can donate to help Michele Serro’s family.

I’d also like to end with this video:

I haven’t stopped crying, since I found out she passed away. I didn’t bother editing this. I’m sure there are a ton of grammar mistakes here, but I really don’t care.

I’ve always done my best to respect Michele’s wishes. This is why I am using the photograph her husband posted on facebook. In the past, she asked me to keep the photos I have take with her for my own personal collection. Thus, I am not posting them.

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2014- Top 5 Authors of Color (No Order)

As 2014 wraps up, I thought I would share my top five favorite authors I read this year. I want to note that this list of books I read this past year and not a list of books that came out this year. Some of these books are backlist books that I finally got around to reading. If you don’t know what backlist reading is, I suggest checking out Book Riot’s video about backlist reading.

These aren’t really reviews just a list books with a little bit of added information here and there.

1.  Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, and So Much More by Janet Mock

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I discovered her book the way most people did. She appeared on Piers Morgan Live, and Piers Morgan disrespected her gender identity throughout the interview. I bought the kindle version of this book instantly and regretted it. This book was so good. I wished I bought a hard copy instead. My suggestion, if you have the cash, buy a hard copy of this book. She is an amazing writer.

Sidenote: She appeared on a podcast called Black Girls Talking. I suggested listening to this particular episode of Black Girls Talking, because I feel as though you get more of a sense of who she is in this podcast than you do with her mainstream media persona. I’d like to emphasize that this is my opinion and not accurate information. The interview turned me into a fan of the podcast, and now I listen to it when I have the chance.

2. My Nature is Hunger: New and Selected Poems:1989-2004 by Luis J. Rodriguez

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I read a book of Luis Rodriguez’s short stories about four years ago, and I instantly fell in love with his writing. He has a way with words. I know this that’s a cliche expression, but he really does. I’m not the only one who thinks so, because he was named Los Angeles’s poet laureate. The poem that struck a chord with me is called “Piece by Piece”, which you can read here. However, I strongly suggest going out and buying any of his books. You won’t be disappointed.

3. The Absolute True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

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I was introduced to Sherman Alexie back in 2006, when a friend at the time made us all watch Smoke Signals. After that movie, I was hooked. I read the short story the movie is based off of. Then years later, I read The toughest Indian in the World. Needles to say, Alexie is funny as always in The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian. Alexie will convince you to believe stereotypes about Indians, then twist the stereotype just to prove how wrong and ignorant you are. However, he does so with humor which is why his books are fun to read.

4.  Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley

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Everyone knows Bryan Lee O’Malley’s work, because of Scott Pilgrim series, which I hate to admit, but I still haven’t read those books.  I have read a few of his other books, which I loved. I  react to O’Malley’s graphic novel’s the same way. I’m reading the books thinking this is a nice book, but then I hit the ending:

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It becomes one of the best books I’ve ever read in that moment. Here’s a sample image of what you get in his books:

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5. Fresh of the Boat by Eddie Huang

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This memoir is an acquired taste, but I loved it. I plan to buy a hard copy, when I get a chance. He talks about social justice, and what challenges he faced growing up. Like most people, I discovered this book when I learned that ABC is coming out with a TV show based of his book.  The book is funny, and worth checking out. I was already looking forward to the TV show, reading the novel made me even more excited to watch the show.

*This was written December 31, 2014, but was not published until January 2, 2014.

Instead of Said or Instead of Tropes (Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix)

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Horrorstör introduces readers to  a character named Amy who works in retail after dropping out of college. She’s a slacker and behind on rent. So she reluctantly agrees to  watch the store at night with her boss and a co-worker. They believe vandals are some how getting into the store at night and destroying property. However, things do not turn out exactly as they thought. Obviously, the book’s title and cover gives away the fact that supernatural activity takes place at night.

This isn’t the scariest horror book, but it’s a good start. If you are new to the horror realm in reading, this is one book you might want to consider. I wasn’t scared, however, there were times I (for lack of a better way of saying this) was gross out. It can get a little gory and a little gross, but it is manageable.  It kept me entertained and reading, which is a lot more than i can say for some other books. The cover might be a little more frightening than the book itself. I gave Horrorstör  three stars on goodreads. I may want to go back and read it someday, but I wouldn’t buy it.

As far as criticisms go, Grady Hendrix needs to consider alternatives to “said.” I’m usually not picky when books overuse “said” but he took it to a new level. Also, he needs to understand if you are going to write characters of color stay away from tropes or at least be careful of how you use them.  I swear if a Latino/a character existed in the novel the character would have been an immigrant. For example, the boss is black, he’s in his early 20’s, and comes from the inner city. He had  a hard life, and he is now raising his kid sister. Then there is the Asian American girl who is not only hyper-sexualized, but also has a streak of her hair dyed. This way everyone knows  she is rebellious.

On the bright side, Hendrix has a chance to rectify these tropes and make these characters complex. Horrorstör has been picked up for a TV series. Here’s to hoping for complexity  (for the characters of color) and less…said.

The link to his book being picked up as a TV series is below:

http://deadline.com/2014/10/grady-hendrix-horrorstor-novel-tv-series-gail-berman-the-jackal-group-864211/

I love the artwork, but the plot wasn’t that great. (The New York Four by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly)

The New York Four Cover

Honestly, the plot line didn’t really impress me. The New York Four is about four young college freshman living in New York. The main character, Riley, is shy and has trouble making friends. However, this book starts after she realizes the three other girls she hangs out with are her friends and she has no idea how she made them. This sounds like the way I make friends as an adult, haha. Now that she has friends, all she does with her time is spend it texting when she is around them. While this is happening, she is also reunited with her estranged sister.

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Overall, the book had potential, but all it did was disappoint me in the end. The plot is trite. However, it’s worth a read and it’s a fast read. I don’t think I’d go out of my way to buy this book. As I said before, the artwork is killer and worth checking out. My favorite part about this book is that the writer understands that New York is a diverse place live. Unlike other writers who often exclude characters of color, this book has two women of color. They are a little stereotypical, but they are characters that fit in well with the rest of the cast. There is Merissa Vasquez “the tall loud one” who is “superior [and] has  five boyfriends right now.” Then, there is Lona Lo whose “status [is] 300 miles from home (Canada)….[and she] doesn’t like the way coffee tastes.” Aside from that, the book portrays Lona as quiet and docile. Actually, if I remember correctly, I think about it the author used the word docile to describe her later on.


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Actually, the more I think about the way this books portrays women I’m starting not to like it. As I sit here and write this out, I remember why I didn’t like the plot between Riley and her estranged sister. I realize Wood has no idea how to write women characters, especially women of color. Wow, I’m so glad I did a review of this. Although I won’t back down on the art, I do like it.  I’d say check this book out from the library, if you want to read it. I’m definitely glad I did, and didn’t buy it like I originally planned too.

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Here’s the link to where the pictures came from:

http://thequarterbin.com/2011/04/21/the-new-york-four/

http://www.comicartfans.com/gallerypiece.asp?piece=583886

Las Hijas de Juan by Josie Mendez-Negrete

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Trigger Warnings For this book and Post include: Domestic abuse, violence against mujeres, incest, and rape.

This text was a really rough read, because of the topic. It’s about these girls who grow up with an abusive father.  It starts out with how their parents met and fell in love and it slowly and gradually turns into one of silence. Silence in the sense that, no one talked about what was happening.

**Slight Spoiler**

This book is great, because it doesn’t end with the dad getting caught. Instead, it takes a new turn. It’s a story about how Josie survived her father’s abuse. She talks about how it affected her life afterwards, which isn’t a kind of story I’ve ever come across before.

**End of Slight Spoiler**

 

As far as the writing goes, it is well written and the author is not afraid to take you into the place she had to live through. For those who have never lived this kind of life, I think it’s important to read. It’s a true testament to why rape jokes aren’t funny.

The author says it best, when she writes:

With Las Hijas de Juan I did not intentionally go about exposing my father’s contempt for women, something that seemed to come from his primordial self, as I had not been exposed to such violence among my k in. Rather, with this book I set out to reveal the social power vested in my father by a society that sanctions or, at best ignores men’s violence against women and children. His treatment of us remained hidden in a culture that still collides with the reproduction of domestic and sexual violence that kill children’s spirits and denigrates women even as it venerates them because of their gender.

–Josie Mendez-Negrete, Epilogue: Purging the Skeletons, Bone by Bone, p. 185.

You can find her book here:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1717119.Las_hijas_de_Juan

Purchase it Here:

http://www.amazon.com/Las-hijas-Juan-Daughters-Otherwise/dp/0822338963/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1398289351&sr=8-1

 

 

Old Review from a different blog, with some minor editing.

I’m lucky I can talk to my favorite writer, whenever I want.

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How many people are lucky enough to say their favorite writer gave them a nickname?

I don’t know, but I’m one of them.

The first time we met I wore a green jacket. According to Michele Serros,  it looked like the one Linsay Weir had on Freaks and Geeks. I took it as a compliment, because I love Freaks and Geeks. Linsay Weir is cool, but Michele Serros is cooler. When Serros gives you a nickname, you take it. If she wants to call me butt face, I’d smile happily.

CLICK HERE CLICK HERE!! 😀

Read her latest article, entitled “An Unexpected Heirloom” on Huffingtonpost now!.