Review: America #1 by Gabby Rivera

I don’t tend to read or review single issues of comics as I like to read them in volumes. But my excitement for America has been evergrowing since I saw this ethereal work of art by Joe Quinones:america-1-bookspoilsSo waiting till October for the first volume to come out was out of question for me.

This issue written by Gabby Rivera and drawn by Joe Quinones was my very first introduction to America Chavez. And if this was any indication of her awesomeness, it won’t be my last! I’m in it for the long haul with Chavez.

However, the plot was a bit puzzling for me as I wasn’t familiar with a lot of the thrown in references or superheroes. But I came to love America’s character so damn much that I didn’t really mind being left out of the loop with the ongoing storyline. And thankfully we had a quick recap at the start:

America Chavez is done with the hero scene. She did the Teen Brigade thing. She basically WAS the Young Avengers. And the Ultimates? They’re cool, but saving the world every weekend is starting to get old. Time to punch out.

But she can’t go home again—she left the Utopian Parallel when she was a little girl, after her moms died saving the entire Multiverse. America’s been on her own ever since, doing her best to be a hero just like them.

And lately her friends all seem to have problems of their own, what with Loki seemingly being a full-on bad guy again and bestie Kate Biship (a.k.a. the real Hawkeye) now doing her own thing out on the West Coast.

So where does a super-strong queer brown girl who can punch star-shaped holes between dimensions go to get her hero-free kicks? Queue up the music and lace up your boots… America’s going to college.

Like the author mentioned in this interview, ‘Don’t try to write a superhero comic book. That’s not why they reached out to you. Put all the joy and excitement and energy and quirkiness that you did with Juliet and bring it to America.’ So what song does she listen to when she wakes up in the morning? Does she brush her teeth in her underwear? What type of girl is she? The fundamental questions you have about someone you want to be friends with.

Plus, there’s just so much I cherished in this issue:

america-1-1-bookspoilsThe only America I want.america-1-2-bookspoilsI immensely valued the emphasis on America’s love and grief for her two heroic mothers.

america-1-3-bookspoilsThis girl is me with the “be your best friend.

america-1-4-bookspoilsGirls loving girls in comics is something I’ll never grow tired of seeing represented! america-1-5-bookspoilsA+++, Would be burned by America.america-1-6-bookspoilsHer comments are pure gold.america-1-7-bookspoilsGirls supporting girls!!! Also, America’s expression in the above is beyond lovable.america-1-8-bookspoilsChavez is a rare hidden gem.

america-1-9-bookspoilsBeating Nazi bastards  is something I’ll always support.
Plus, that’s how you end your comic on at an all-time high. I want more and more and more!!!

4.5/5 stars

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Review: Moonlight (Screenplay) by Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney

This review contains *spoilers*.

I recently watched the masterpiece that is Moonlight and to say that I was utterly blown away would not be at all an exaggeration. It’s the kind of movie that sticks with you. Covering issues of race, discrimination, sexuality, m/m love, coming of age, and so much more. I can’t get over how wide-spanning and game-changing this film is. To quote this articleMoonlight also became the first film with an all black cast, the first LGBT film and the second lowest-grossing film domestically (behind The Hurt Locker) to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Also, THAT ENDING!!!. Dev Patel and Andrew Garfield said it best when:

I vividly remember thinking during one particular scene in the film, I wonder how this was written down in the script… So I was beyond ecstatic to get to read the screenplay so soon after seeing the film.  And as you might’ve guessed, Moonlight was just as spectacular on page as it was on the big screen. (Plus, we get extra scenes that didn’t make it into the final cute.) (AND A DIFFERENT – BUT STILL SIMILAR – ENDING!!)

I had so many favorite scenes in Moonlight – and since the film is divided into three parts, it’s quite a number – so I’ll just start sharing:

warning: I get overly excited.

“JUAN
You don’t talk much but you damn 
sure can eat.

Teresa smiling. 


TERESA
That’s alright, baby. You talk when 
you ready.

Little looking up from his plate at that, something about Teresa’s voice, her presence, clicking with him. 


LITTLE
My name Chiron.
(and)
But people call me Little.

TERESA
I’m gon’ call you by your name.”

This was my favorite introduction scene. Made me grow appreciative of Teresa and Juan that more.  And like the brilliant Mahershala Ali, who plays Juan in the film, said best about his character:

“JUAN
So how you like swimmin’?

Nothing from Little. Heard him but the words too heavy to present themselves.

JUAN
That good, huh?”

I cherished the above scene even more when we had it come back between Little and Kevin in a later part:

“KEVIN
…this dude reminded me of you.

Beat.

BLACK
What’d he play?

A long pause from Kevin, the song wedging itself in his thoughts right now, pushing everything aside.

BLACK
That good, huh?”

Made a megawatt smile appear on my face.

“TERESA
(playful)
Think you slick, huh? Do it wrong so Teresa show up and do it right,
huh?
(laughs)

TERESA (CONT’D)
You and Juan, thick as thieves,
lemme tell you.

Teresa looking to Chiron for that last part, what begins as a smile slowly fading, shifting to something more reflective, heavy.

TERESA
You miss him?

Chiron holding her gaze, his silence answer enough.

TERESA
Yeah.
Me too.

Beat.

TERESA
Me too.”

I was devastated when I found out about Juan.

“KEVIN
Hell, shit make you wanna cry, feel
so good.


Chiron looking to Kevin now:

CHIRON
You cry?

KEVIN
Nah. But it make me want to.

Kevin flashing that big, cool ass smile.

KEVIN
What you cry about? You cry, Chiron?

Beat.

CHIRON
I cry so much sometimes I think one
day I’m gone just turn into drops.”

That last line impacted me so much that I wrote it down the minute I heard it in the film.

Last but not least, I’m sharing one of the most iconic exchange between two romantically involved characters:

“BLACK
You’re the only man who’s ever
touched me.

The air going out of Kevin’s chest, his gaze fixated on Black’s lips, anticipating the words falling from there:

BLACK
The only one.

Black’s hand is flat atop the table between them. His eyes lower to it:

BLACK
I haven’t really touched anyone,
since.”

THIS REMAINS ONE OF THE MOST LIVELY LINES EVER!!!

Reading the screenplay set me up in this continues loop of reading and then rewatching and then rereading and watching again. HELP.

And since there are so many more scenes I want to share, I was thankful to find this post that sums them up pretty greatly:

Real talk, Moonlight has my whole heart in the palm of its fictional hands. This film deserves every award and recognition it’ll receive in the near future. And I hope it collects a whole lot.

P.S. I love this screenplay even more for opening up my world to the fact that I can read the screenplays of my favorite films.

5/5 stars

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Review: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

“The trouble with denial is that when the truth comes, you aren’t ready.”

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

“If our past selves got a glimpse of us now, what would they make of us?”

This book came so unexpectedly into my life, but I’m eternally grateful that it did so. There’s simply so much to love about We Are Okay that I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed writing this, but thankfully lists exist for me to break it down point by point:

  • We have a switching narrative between the past and future, which adds tremendously to the ongoing intrigue. Usually with books that have a similar structure, I struggle connecting with either the past or the present but that was not the case with We Are Okay. Far from it, actually. I kept switching my love for the chapters set in the past and those set in the present.
  • The author gets so many things right. From leaving your home and friends and childhood behind, to tackling loneliness, grief, friendship, f/f love, bisexuality, heartbreak, and talking about books and paintings, positive adult figures, and so much more. But I especially want to address how Marin’s broken longing felt so palpable. I could virtually feel her grief coming off the page, which is by no means an easy feat to achieve in writing.
  • Speaking of, LaCour’s words blew me off the page. I just loved how certain scenes drew a perfectly fitting picture in my mind.

Exhibit A:

“She leans over our table and turns the sign in the window so that it says CLOSED on the outside. But on our side, perfectly positioned between Mabel’s place and mine, it says OPEN. If this were a short story, it would mean something.”

I had to laugh at how witty that passage was.

And then hiding my smile at this gentle and still scene following at nighttime:

“So I turn over and find Mabel closer to me than I’d realized. I wait a minute there to see if she’ll move away, but she doesn’t. I wrap my arm around her waist, and she relaxes into me. My head nestles in the curve behind her neck; my knees pull up to fit the space behind hers.
She might be asleep. I’ll only stay here for a couple of minutes. Only until I thaw completely. Until it’s enough to remind me what it feels like to be close to another person, enough to last me for another span of months. I breathe her in. Tell myself I need to turn away.
Soon. But not yet.
“Don’t disappear again,” she says. “Okay?”
Her hair is soft against my face.
“Promise me.”
“I promise.”

My heart. These two have my heart.

  • The summer chapters are set in San Francisco, mainly at the beach, which is one of my all-time favorite locations.

“Tourists descended onto our beach, sat in our usual places, so we borrowed Ana’s car and crossed the Golden Gate to find a tiny piece of ocean to have for ourselves. We ate fish-and-chips in a dark pub that belonged in a different country, and we collected beach glass instead of shells, and we kissed in the redwoods, we kissed in the water, we kissed in movie theaters all over the city during matinees and late-night showings. We kissed in bookstores and record stores and dressing rooms. We kissed outside of the Lexington because we were too young to get in. We looked inside its doors at all the women there with short hair and long hair, lipstick and tattoos, tight dresses and tight jeans, button-ups and camisoles, and we pictured ourselves among them.”tumblr_oawgnvocw51qgt42uo7_500

  • And since Marin’s from San Francisco but moved to NYC for college, the winter chapters set for the perfectly gloomy and quiet atmosphere. And as this books mentions, “It was quiet, maybe, but it wasn’t simple.”
  • I loved the attention paid to details. You could tell how much the story meant to the author just by little things such as the names of the girls:

“Just different enough,” I said.
“As usual.”
Since we’d met, we had a thing for our names’ symmetry. An M followed by a vowel, then a consonant, then a vowel, then a consonant. We thought it was important. We thought it must have meant something. Like a similar feeling must have passed through our mothers as they named us. Like destiny was at work already. We may have been in different countries, but it was only a matter of time before we would collide into each other.”

  • And now that I’ve successfully circled back to my favorites, I have to talk about how stunningly earnest their relationship felt. We get to see them through all the stages: from strangers to friends to lovers to something more to something undefinable and then… And then going back and forth until they find their footing. It was everything I wanted and more. They’re so good for one another.
  • Like I wrote in my review for Queens of Geek, I live for books that write about girls. Girls supporting girls. Girls loving girls. Girls, girls, girls!!! And so this book fulfilled my heart while reading about Marin’s remarkable roommate and compassionate new boss and noteworthy best friend.

“I look at her. I wish her everything good. A friendly cab driver and short lines through security. A flight with no turbulence and an empty seat next to her. A beautiful Christmas. I wish her more happiness than can fit in a person. I wish her the kind of happiness that spills over.”

This is still one of the kindest things I’ve ever read. My eyes are burning again.

tumblr_oifieulk1u1usuo3ko1_500

  • Side note: the amount of times my eyes teared up while reading was low-key alarming. But it was like I couldn’t help it, especially towards the end. Like Marin said, “I was crying, trying not to cry.” We Are Okay is tragic and hopeful and morose and every adjective in the world that will help encompass the beauty of this story.
  • And last but not least, I delighted in the fact that the families played such a big part in this book. Specifically centering on Mabel’s Mexican-American family and how fervently they welcomed Marin with open arms. Ana and Javier are two of the kindest souls and made my heart swell more than once with their words and actions.

All in all: I’m beyond grateful that I picked this up on a whim because I don’t think I’ll find anything like it soon. But I know that I’ll look forward to any of Nina LaCour’s future works to come out.

P.S. This song felt really fitting for the mood this story is conveying (since it also mentions summertime and being seventeen and drinking whiskey). I listened to it on repeat until, to paraphrase this book, its sound turned to nothing.

5/5 stars

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