Review: A Bunch of Jews (and other stuff) by Trina Robbins

A Bunch of Jews 1-- bookspoilsI have an ever-growing fascination with Yiddish literature thanks to my Ashkenazi roots, so I was ecstatic when I saw that Trina Robbins had adapted her father’s A Minyen Yidn un Andere Zakhn into comic form.

This collection of engaging and humane short stories, featuring different sets of illustrators for each one, of arrogant schoolteachers, boastful travelers, stingy merchants, adoring pets, and all the disasters and triumphs that can happen to families and tight-knit communities. “It’s a snapshot of a way of life that would end with the coming of the Nazis and WW2, although none of them knew it yet.”

However, while I enjoyed most of the tones and themes explored in the stories – a deep mixture of melancholy and nostalgia – most tales would end a bit nonsensical and unclear to me, so that it became harder and harder to appreciate to message. But on a brighter (and a bit random) note, the short story about latkes made me crave them by a tenfold, so bonus points for that.A Bunch of Jews 2-- bookspoilsSince this comic adaption was on the shorter side, I’m intrigued to check out the book by the author’s father, Muttel (Mutye) Perechudnik, originally published in Yiddish. And I do hope that more comics like this one will be adapted in the future.

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

Expected publication: March 21st, 2017

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying A Bunch of Jews (and other stuff) , just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Louis Undercover by Fanny Britt, Isabelle Arsenault

In this powerful new graphic novel from Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault, we meet Louis, a young boy who shuttles between his alcoholic dad and his anxious mom, and who, with the help of his best friend, tries to summon up the courage to speak to his true love, Billie.Louis Undercover 5-- bookspoils

I’ve been eyeing Fanny Britt’s work for awhile now, so I jumped on the opportunity to read her newest release in collaboration with Isabelle Arsenault’s vivid and evocative art. Plus, the promise of exploring a topic as critical and crucial as having an alcoholic parent in graphic novel format had me on my toes.

Speaking of which, here’s some pieces that had the same heart-stopping effect on me:

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Louis Undercover 4-- bookspoilsThe shop window in the background had me hypnotized.
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Louis Undercover 10-- bookspoilsI weeped when he described her as “a gorgeous cactus.” Nothing but the highest of compliments.

All this to say that the author and illustrator have really outdone themselves with this one. Both the art and the accompanying text had me encompassed within the graphic novel. The tone and themes explored in here delivered everything I wanted, from love to hatred to indifference and so much more.

I’m eager to see what Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault will collaborate on next; you can count on me to keep up.

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

Expected publication: October 1st, 2017

3.5/5 stars

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

Review: Earth Hates Me by Ruby Karp

“Good luck. I hope you don’t cringe too much.”

I started this ARC on a complete whim while in dire need for a quick and fun read to take my mind of things. I was then pleasantly surprised to open the first page to discover an interview between Ruby Karp and Broad City’s Ilana Glazer. Given my hesitations, this was the perfect hook for me to read on. In particular, since the author’s writing voice sounded similar to that of Rookie’s editor-in-chief (and recent podcast host), Tavi Gevinson. They’re both Jewish white girls, well-known for writing articles online since the age of ten and above.

But focusing on Earth Hates Me, I appreciated how Ruby Karp acknowledged her privilege from the start of this novel. She didn’t sugarcoat things and brought her honest self to these pages, filled with essays and articles to keep your head busy and thinking for days.

It also made me realize a lot of new things about myself that I couldn’t necessarily put into words at first. I went into this book thinking it would come off as another cheesy read, but that’s far from it actually. I found myself and so much more in the pages of Earth Hates Me. Funnily enough, it felt a lot like watching an episode from Skam, my favorite Norwegian tv series also directed towards 16-year-olds. Similar to the latter, we have discussions of:

  • Young love and heartbreak.

“Being in fifth grade (and hyperemotional, because being ten is a lot to deal with) and getting my heart broken? It’s almost as devastating as the ups and downs of Nash Grier’s career.”

P.S. The shade thrown in here at the most deserving of people was extremely satisfying to experience.

  • Making the crucial point that sex-ed classes need to discuss both the importance of consent while simultaneously teaching not to rape.

“We need to stop teaching people only how to say no. We need to stop allowing boys to use force upon girls and vice versa. We need boys to understand that using sexual force is unacceptable, always. We need to teach people how not to rape.”

  • The negativity behind slut shaming, the importance of practicing safe sex, girl power, and feminism turned into my favorite chapter. Karp brought up so many noteworthy notions similar to the above quote.
  • The matter of not feeling good enough in your own skin (“I looked for validation in other people because I couldn’t find it in myself.”) while also discussing beauty and self-worth and how it feels different for each individual, as it should.
  • Experiencing unrequited love, also known as “the heartbreak of heartbreaks.”

“When Angela Chase said that obsessions aren’t real, she meant it. Ninety-five percent of the time, what you want is just a fantasy. Your fantasies will never live up to your realities—that’s just fact. I couldn’t get over my idea of what Greg and I could have been. I couldn’t get over my idea of who he was and what I could have meant to him. The real Greg—the one who didn’t like me back—he wasn’t the Greg I wanted.”

This was something I was particularly glad to have read today.

  • She talks about mending your shattered heart, including a healthy dose of her own experiences with failed relationships “(real or mostly fantasy).”
  • Friend breakups and how they can hurt just as much as romantic ones.

“Some friends are exactly what you need them to be in the moment, but not forever.”

  • The suffocating stress of her performing arts high school. (“We’re like Victorious except without the puppet component.”) Plus, the pressure to do well in school while also addressing the mess that is the education system and standardized tests.

“Your grades are not a reflection of who you are.”

  • And a welcome addition of pop culture references thrown in, from social media to Hannah Montana, Mean Girls, Sex and the City, and Hamilton the musical.
  • Being raised by a single mother and their close relationship nowadays. Showing healthy mother/daughter relationships is the key to my heart.

“If you’re like me and your mom is always the though guy for you, you never really need to be the strong one. Because of this, my childhood consisted of tears the second anyone wasn’t nice to me.”

So as you can see by the above list, for the first half I was in a state of pure bliss while reading. The arguments brought up by the author were ones I wholeheartedly agreed with. Karp was either saying something I hadn’t been able to put into words before or the complete opposite, where it was just a comfort to have someone write down a similar opinion I held. Like her point about parents being humans too is one I’ve made before, so it was exciting to see her agree.

“We forget that our parents were once young and had lives where they also felt out of place at a party they didn’t know enough people at. Our parents aren’t minions from another planet, and as hard as it is to remember that, it’s important we try to, so we don’t spend every moment hating them.”

Ruby captured so many quiet and loud moments we’ve all experienced that “couldn’t have been more uncomfortable, more real, more dramatic, and more heartfelt…” Reading this felt like a much-needed change in scenery, a breath of fresh air. While I struggle with getting invested in fictional young adult books, I’ve noticed that the ones set in the nonfiction genre I manage to devour in a heartbeat. Plus, the addition of having so many laugh-out-loud moments weighed in as well.

I also began observing how each essay started out quite strong, especially ones with personal anecdotes included in the mix. But without fail, I knew the end of a chapter was coming when the advice started getting vague. Like: “Live your life the way you want to be living it.” Or “Go out into the world and be the change you want to see.” These are all valid points, just that a lot of influential people have said it before her and will continue to say it after…

But setting that little note aside, my day passed by in a happy blur thanks to being too invested in this book to look at the clock. So I’m definitely curious to see what’s next in store for Ruby Karp.

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

Expected publication: October 3rd, 2017

3.5/5 stars

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