Review: Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up by Adah Nuchi

“The Sisterhood needs to know!”

Exclaimer: As a big sister, but foremost as a female, I’m over the moon excited that guides like Adah Nuchi’s, full of girl power, exist in the world for all to read from young to old.

Based on the lively conceit that it’s written by nine older girls at a fictional summer camp who share their collective been-there, done-that experiences, Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up is a puberty book with a twist, an entertaining, up-to-date, supportive guide that covers the head-to-toe changes that young girls go through as they grow up.

Bunk 9's Guide to Growing Up 1-- bookspoils

I don’t know how, but before starting Bunk 9’s Guide I’d somehow forgotten for a minute there that my little sister is set to go through puberty pretty soon, just like all the youngins, which to be frank still blows my mind. So knowing that I now have the opportunity to share this noteworthy, feminist guide to help even a little in the near future is something that definitely takes the weight off my shoulders.

“One of the best things about womanhood is sharing your experiences with other women…”

This realistic and all-inclusive read feels like a mix for fans and young readers of Judy Blume and Rookie Mag. That is to say: it’s a great way to start the conversation between parents/ guardians and their kids going through puberty. I truly wish I had something similar to rely on in my times of heavy confusion in everything relating my life during puberty. This felt like some much-needed closure. So I’m thankful for the umpteenth time for the existence of Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up with its pun-worthy title chapters and it being out there for readers in need.

Conversations circling the topics of puberty, hygiene, breasts, menstruation and the reproductive system, boys, health, and feelings… We also have mentions of period parties, treating pimples/zits/acne, social media, crushes and hormones, and how to “get through friendships, parents that drive you crazy, and new crushes…” Bunk 9's Guide to Growing Up 2-- bookspoilsI’m beyond excited and grateful with every fiber of my being that this fun, comforting, and enlightening read is out there ready to give you the support you need.

And to end this review, I’d like to share this fitting and hilarious Christine Sydelko vine on puberty:

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: December 19th, 2017

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen

From celebrity gossip expert and BuzzFeed culture writer Anne Helen Petersen comes an accessible, analytical look at how female celebrities are pushing boundaries of what it means to be an acceptable woman.

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud is divided into ten chapters, each examining unruly female celebrities “who occupy all different corners of the mainstream, from the literary world to Hollywood, from HBO to the tennis court. It includes several women of color, but the prevalence of straight white women serves to highlight an ugly truth: that the difference between cute, acceptable unruliness and unruliness that results in ire is often as simple as the color of a woman’s skin, whom she prefers to sleep with, and her proximity to traditional femininity.”

As you can read in the above quote, The author’s self-awareness was the first thing I noticed and immediately cherished in her writing. There’s no topic Petersen shied away from and this passion of radical honesty and transparency settled into my core. I took a lot away from it.

Though it took me a minute to settle into the frame of Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, the essay that secured my interest most was on Broad City’s Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. It won me over in a beat with this single line: “In their world, men are as secondary as female friends are in the traditional rom-com. ”

This is what happy feels like. Oh, and this:

“Both Abbi and Ilana are deeply weird, but within the vividly rendered world of Broad City, their actions make some sort of sense, always in relation to each other. Of course Abbi would pose as Ilana for a six-hour shift at the co-op, or Ilana would devote an entire day to caring for Abbi after oral surgery—they’re each other’s first and foremost. Which is why there are no “bottle episodes” that focus uniquely on one character or the other: not because they’re not individuals, but because they’re always in each other’s orbit.”

Unlike my first impression regarding this book, it came to provide varying perspectives and radically de-center the story from the celebrity; rather focus on the messages and ideas they represent: Serena Williams (too strong), Kim Kardashian West (too pregnant), Hillary Clinton (too shrill), Jennifer Weiner (Too loud), Melissa McCarthy (too fat), and more.

“My hope is that this book unites the enthralling, infuriating, and exhilarating conversations that swirl around these women, but also incites new and more expansive ones. ”

I most certainly enjoyed reading and learning more about these unruly women and the notions they stood for. Feminist works like Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud are something I’ll never tire of seeing either on screen or on paper.

Plus, I’d definitely recommend giving this book a go if you enjoy looking up reviews of celebrities, TV shows, and books… Because this is a comprehensive, yet in-depth pool of knowledge of history, celebrity culture, double standards, LGBTQIA+ representation, feminism and challenging the norms of femininity. And there are of course a myriad other small things scattered throughout to keep you entertained from start to finish. I would say that the only thing I wasn’t too happy about was the fact that Lena Dunham was included in this mix. Thankfully, she was the last essay in here, so I just went ahead and skipped that altogether because I simply cannot support her character.

3.5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

“The only past you have a right to know about is your own.”

I was positutely ecstatic when I found out that Gabrielle Zevin was releasing a brand new fiction novel after The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, which had quickly become a favorite of mine earlier this year. And similar to the aforementioned, Young Jane Young had me enamored from the first page, which I’ve come to realize is the author’s specialty. Even though the setting is so different from her previous work, the characterizations feel so familiar. Zevin has a special knack for breathing life into her characters, making them flawed yet still likeable as hell.

“Once upon a time, I was easily touched and easily flapped.”
“What happened?” she said.
“I grew up,” I said.

Now I know that I can always count on the author for getting me swept up into her works from page one. It took absolutely zero effort for me to get familiarized within the pages of this book. It felt truly effortless, in particular, because of the combination of the many Jewish aspects and Yiddish phrases (farkakte, oy vey iz mir, alte cocker) that won over my heart in a beat.

Thanks to my incredible excitement for a new Zevin novel, I hadn’t even read the blurb or synopsis before starting, so I was in for a treat because everything that came at me I got to experience through fresh eyes. I’m also thankful because I probably wouldn’t have read this gem had I known that Young Jane Young‘s heroine is Aviva Grossman, an ambitious Congressional intern in Florida who makes the life-changing mistake of having an affair with her boss‑‑who is beloved, admired, successful, and very married‑‑and blogging about it.

“They didn’t put a scarlet letter on her chest, but they didn’t need to. That’s what the Internet is for.”

Separated into five different parts with a different female narrator for each one, the aforementioned plot point is honestly not even a third of what this novel is about. We’re introduced to so many great, flawed, and achingly real female characters that support one another, in addition to many iconic feminist moments and sayings and t-shirts (“Women rights are human rights” and “Ask me about my feminist agenda”) in here. Speaking of which, the pure privilege of receiving the many sage feminist advice from Mrs. Morgan was worth it all. (Her side note to Ruby on the meaning behind ‘douchebag’ opened up my eyes.)

And further drove the point home by making this a female driven story. I love it more than I can put into words that the narrators were Jewish women, related to each other one way or another. Nothing is quite like what it seems, and I cherish the author for still managing to make each woman layered and just so fucking real. That’s all I could’ve asked for, really.

An added bonus: One of my favorites was Ruby Young, the most fully realized character, who’s only thirteen at the end of the book but trustworthy, neurotic, and strong for her age, to borrow her mother’s phrasing. When asked how she came to be so wise, her answer gives it all away:  “Books,” I said. “And I spend a lot of time with my mom.” Showing healthy children/parent relationships is the key to my heart.

It seems a difficult feat but I ended up liking each narrator and each generation more and more, thanks to Gabrielle Zevin’s effortless yet intricate writing style and characterization. The small details are what matter here. Like this next little moment that managed to capture such a specific feeling that it nearly made my head spin:

“I don’t know why I didn’t say no. In my defense, I was confused. I think it’s like when you’re on a cell phone call with someone and the reception goes bad and you continue to pretend as if you can hear for a bit, hoping that the cell phone reception will work itself out before the person catches on that you haven’t been hearing her for five minutes. Why don’t you immediately say, I can’t hear you? Why does it feel shameful.

And of course there were the many laugh out loud moments that I’ve grown accustomed to as the author’s signature style: “He was twenty-seven, and his handshake was too firm – what are you trying to prove, bro?” And using the most iconic of phrases: “You’re worse than a bra strap.”

This refreshing, short, and concise read with plenty of heart and more than a little humor has made a definite new fan out of me. I can’t wait for Gabrielle Zevin’s future works.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: August 22nd, 2017

5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Young Jane Young, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!