Book Review: The Girl And The Goddess - Nikita Gill

Book Review: The Girl And The Goddess – Nikita Gill

Let her be a little less human, a little more divine
Give her heart armor so it doesn’t break as easily as mine

Meet Paro. A girl with a strong will, a full heart, and much to learn. Born into a family reeling from the ruptures of Partition in India, we follow her as she crosses the precarious lines between childhood, teenage discovery, and realizing her adult self. In the process, Paro must confront fear, desire and the darkest parts of herself in the search for meaning and, ultimately, empowerment.

Nikita Gill is an incredible poet who isn’t afraid to try new things in her collections – The Girl and The Goddess is no different. Weaving poetry with stories of Hindu mythology I was hooked.

As a warning I will say that if you are sensitive to reading about violence or sexual assault then please take your time with this, make sure you know more before you go into it and that you’re okay.

This is a stunning collection we follow the story of Paro from a baby to a child forced to leave her home, all the way to a young woman who is figuring out who she is and her place in the world. I didn’t know much going in, only that I liked some of Gill’s previous collections

Paro is an incredible character, I think because she has flaws. She’s not perfect but she is human, she gets confused, hurt, angry. We see the world through her eyes as she grows and in a way that we feel like we don’t miss anything. I fell in love with her over and over again and just wanted the best for her.

I found myself desperate to find more about the Goddesses and God mentioned. I’m the first to admit that I knew nothing about Hindu myths and legends before starting but I can’t wait to learn more (if anyone knows any good books for me to start, let me know in the comments!).

A few people may hear poetry and think that it’s not for them, I would urge you to try this collection, which I would say is more of a novel in verse. It’s absolutely stunning and flows so well that you’ll fall into without realising it’s different from what you’re used to.

This collection was 5 stars for me, it’s absolutely beautiful and I had to keep reading. For a real treat, I’d recommend reading a few out loud, just for yourself to really feel the magic within the pages of the story. A breathtaking piece of literature that more people want to know about.

Book Review: Clap When You Land - Elizabeth Acevedo

Book Review: Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

After reading Acevedo’s novel With The Fire on High I knew I needed to read Clap When You Land. I was fascinated by the idea of a tragedy bringing together unknown family members and the difficulties they have after learning the truth. 

This is ultimately a story about grief, family and secrecy. While both Camino and Yaharia share a father, their lives couldn’t be more different. One is used to living in New York in reasonable comfort, while the other is keeping her head above water with her aunt in a struggling neighbourhood. 

As with Acevedo’s other book I read there are a number of diverse characters in terms of race and sexuality as well as looking at forms of intimidation women may face around the world. 

The way in which this is written is beautiful, I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the Dominican Republic and Camino’s sense of community and love for those around her. Overall I think I felt more connected to Camino, simply because I was rooting for her the whole time. That’s not to say I wasn’t rooting for Yaharia, it was just a different kind of connection. 

For me this was a 4.5 star read, I can’t talk about the ending without risk of spoilers but I wanted to see more of that happened after the endpoint. I would definitely read a second book about the girls. I wish I could say more but I refuse to spoil this wonderful book for anyone. 

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for review. 

Book Review: The Black Flamingo - Dean Atta

Book Review: The Black Flamingo – Dean Atta

A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

*I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.*

This book is definitely a coming of age novel with a twist. I, personally, have never read a book about how someone becomes a drag queen. Personally, I think it is an amazing creative art form and the make up skills? Damn.

A few people I know have pushed back from reading this because it’s written in verse, which I understand. When I read my first novel in verse as a teenager I didn’t get it BUT now I see it as a really creative way of telling a story. If you’re new to novels in verse this is a great place to start because it flows so well and it’s easy to just read it and forget because you’re so absorbed in the story.

This is a story about finding who you are, about balancing expectations and family with your own truth. It looks at the LGBTQ community and drag but I think this could speak to anyone who has struggled with working out who they are and who they want to be. I could relate because I also started to work myself out at university and found confidence I didn’t know I had.

The story also follows Michael’s realisation that he is gay and what this meant for him as well as his crushes, relationships and the like. I’m pretty sure all of us can relate to teenage crushes.

The poetry within the pages were absolutely beautiful! Also the flow from around the middle to the second half seemed effortless, even though I know it must have taken a long time to put together.

This was a 4 star read for me, incredibly interesting, well written and, for me at least, very original in both the way it was written and the story it told. I will say that towards the beginning I struggled a little bit, particularly with Michael’s younger years but found as he got to university I could relate.