Blissfully Blended Bullshit

Blissfully Blended Bullshit. Rebecca Eckler. 2019. Dundurn. 280 pages. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley]. As someone in a blended family, I appreciated Eckler’s humorous approach with this book. I read this book as a bit of a “what to expect when you’re blending families,” because she tackles a lot of the big and small questions — dealing with exes, connecting with step-children, finances, etc. She holds no punches, even those that don’t portray her in the best light. Her input from friends provide unique perspectives of those with varied experiences. This isn’t just a book about Eckler, but about the range of blended family experiences. In describing the start of her relationship and how it developed, she tackles common “issues” that arise for parents as they date and join families. She didn’t sugarcoat any of it, and she presents her experience without judging others. She covers not the logistics of dating as a parent, but also the emotional angst that comes with it. It’s important to note that she doesn’t hold anything back. She’s graphic to a fault (didn’t need the visual for how she conceived her “Mid Life Crisis Baby”) which may not be everyone’s cup of tea….

White Like Her

White Like Her. Gail Lukasik. 2017. Skyhorse Publishing. 316 pages. [Source: personal copy.] We all think we know who we are. We all believe what our parents tell us about our families. Sometimes what they don’t tell us is the real story. On its surface, White Like Her is one woman’s dogged journey* to learn about her family’s history. What sets it apart is that Gail Lukasik’s journey is predicated on sifting through the secrecy that shrouded much of her mother’s life, ultimately disrupting the narrative of Lukasik and her family’s whiteness.  You see, Alvera Frederic passed as white for most of her adult life, but spent her formative years in a black family. Born in New Orleans, she straddled the line of “blackness,” until she reinvented herself in Ohio, marrying a white man and starting a family, while leaving her own behind. Much of this book follows, step by step, Lukasik’s uncovering of her mother’s true racial identity, pieced together as a result of a census record and an appearance on PBS’ Genealogy Roadshow.  What I like most about this book is that it serves as a primer, of sorts, for those unfamiliar with key tools of the genealogy…

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. Issa Rae. 2015. Atria. 225 pages. [Source: Public library]. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I’ve been a stan of Issa Rae since her co-worker caught her rapping along aggressively at a stop sign on Youtube.  That fandom exploded when her show, Insecure, hit HBO in 2016.  I’ve always related quite a bit to her experiences on her web-series, and (not surprisingly) the trials and tribulations of adulthood chronicled on the small screen spoke to my own experiences in dating, working, and trying to look like I had my sh*t together while I fumbled through the process. I’m honestly a bit disappointed it took me so long to get my hands on her autobiography, but it was worth the wait.  It’s an easy read and felt like I was kicking back on the couch with my girl from way back, reminiscing about the good, bad, and ugly.  (Sidenote – Issa Rae is my friend in my head. She completes my sentences and we do that thing where you can give someone a look and they know exactly what you’re thinking).  I appreciated from the start her ability to inject wit (albeit often…

Orange is the New Black
Memoir , Non-fiction / March 19, 2017

Orange is the New Black. Piper Kerman. 2010. 322 pages. Spiegel and Grau. [Source: personal copy.] I’m not a fan of memoirs, which trumps whether this was good or not, because it was a self inflicted torture. Her account was realistic, honest and enlightening but extremely boring at times. I’ve never had to use the dictionary so many times when reading a book and wonder if this is her everyday vocabulary or if she became best buddies with a thesaurus during her prison stay and just never mentioned it. Either way, I’m glad I’m done and maybe I’ll try the series.

Test Driven: High-Stakes Accountability in Elementary Schools
Education , Non-fiction / October 10, 2013

Test Driven: High-Stakes Accountability in Elementary Schools. Linda Valli, Robert G. Croninger, Marilyn H. Chambliss, Anna O. Graeber, Daria Buese. 2008. 208 pages. Teachers College Press. [Source: personal copy.] I can only hope that more people than just educators and those in academia are exposed to the invaluable information the authors provide here. The insights into how the educational landscape is being warped by a focus on standardization and other national educational policies are some that I never considered, but am certain I need to be aware of.