I first received Caraval in an Owlcrate when it was first published and immediately fell in love. I've reread it several times and after the most recent re-read decided it was time to finally hit the stacks and snag its sequel from the local library. I was not disappointed.
I was initially worried that the author wouldn't be able to write Tella's character as convincingly as she had written Scarlett. Scarlett's world is vibrant, every emotion tinged with color, every moment painted vividly in a style entirely unique. I couldn't imagine how Stephanie would be able to shape Tella in a way that was both entirely different but also entirely convincing. But I should not have doubted.
Tella's unruly and impulsive nature suddenly comes into focus in a way that leaves you on edge and cheering for her every move. Her motives shine through, clarifying what was so incredibly muddy before when we only saw her through Scarlett's eyes. I have read many books in which individual characters are narrated separately, to varying degrees of success, but I have never come across an author who could pull it off as well as Stephanie Garber.
As full of magic and tangible imagery as the first installment of the series, Legendary is a masterpiece on its own and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book (hold pending).
One of my goals for the year was to expand my freelancing portfolio, both by working with new companies and by getting enough pieces published to hit triple digits. While the year ended on a bang, with a new article being published as well as another article being selected to be transformed into a video essay, the new year has not been nearly so promising.
As a part of my personal journey through my faith I decided to force myself to read what some have referred to as "the atheist bible": The God Delusion.
I had attempted to read Dawkins' book once before, about a year and a half ago and had given up shortly after the introduction. I felt that the tone of the book was condescending to the point of being exhausting and didn't feel like being yelled at by someone who claimed to want to change people's minds.
Upon picking the book back up about a month ago I was initially struck by the same feeling, but pushed through. It got better eventually. Most of the chapters are full of interesting information, and the content sometimes even made me laugh aloud. Occasionally Dawkins returned to condescension, and even made arguments about Christianity that I found ill-informed at best, but ultimately I was glad I'd read it.
If you can get past the ego that seems to expand outward from every chapter, the earliest ones in particular, it's a good book, and it made some points that have stuck with me, fueling my desire to better understand what it is I've spent my whole life believing.
We're nearly two months into 2020 and already my plans are shifting in ways I couldn't have foreseen. While there's more changes happening than I'll cover here, everything we will talk about centers around one thing: My decision to apply to Utah Valley University.
Up until recently, I'd never really bothered to read memoirs. At least, not since I was in high school. I can't put my finger on exactly what it was that lead me to this book. I know that a friend of mine had just finished reading it (thanks for the update Goodreads!) and it was at the top of the "new and recommended" section in my library app. But maybe it was the title. The simplicity of the design. The way I couldn't tell what it would be about, but I felt that it must be important. It was.
Westover's story, from her incredibly sheltered and unusual childhood to her awe-inspiring journey through secondary education, rang with meaning and truth. Growing up in Utah, I always heard stories about the LDS families who went a step further (or two) in the ways they followed the religion. Hearing one of those stories from within was a much needed reminder that all of our stories look more normal from the inside. Even when, especially when, we're right in the middle of the strangest parts.
My favorite thing was not the story, it wasn't the writing, so full of well crafted imagery, and it wasn't the way Tara seamlessly wove so many memories into a story that could probably change lives. No, the best part of Educated is the way Tara describes trauma. The way she recounts the moments of abuse and manipulation and neglect. The moments of almost willful insanity.
Educated is the kind of book you don't know you needed until you've finished it. I'd recommend it to anyone.