Stitch Fix: April 2021

This month definitely had transitional season vibes, which was great! Ultimately I was held back by money, which is kind of starting to be a trend. I just can’t justify spending $70 on one shirt. I can’t do it! But I definitely feel like the clothing being sent to me is my style and good for me, just maybe not my budget! I ended up buying a top and a pair of jeans and then just sending back the rest. I may have made different choices about what to keep if the jeans weren’t so perfect…but they were so here we are!

Papermoon Coraley Tie Sleeve Blouse $44

I love the color of this top! So light and airy and perfect for that spring transition time! I appreciate that it’s lightweight enough for the classroom without being too revealing, but it has details that make cute for a day out!

Pistola Arielle Skinny Distressed Scissor Cut Hem Jean $88

These jeans are so comfortable and honestly – I know okay I KNOW it’s too much money to spend on a single item, but I bought them anyway. Good jeans that are comfortable, flattering, and fit well are just really hard to come by.

Daniel Rainn Koda Split Neck Waterman Blouse $68

I like this top because it’s comfortable and fits nice without being restrictive. The material was soft, but breathable, and was it worth $68? Yes. But I just can’t do it. I’d never wear it for fear of messing it up.

Pink Clover Penton Two Pocket Cardigan $44

The cardigan is always the piece that makes me like…omg I love it so much…but do I really need another cardigan? And that question is what ultimately led me to saying goodbye to it.

Urban Expressions Aleda Wallet Clutch $38

The clutch honestly made me pause. I do really like it and I think it’s stylish but I worry that it’s not practical enough for me or that it will get ruined based on the way I use my bags, so I ended up not getting it. I will say, I think I kind of regret that decision, which might just mean it’s time to me to go find a new purse at a price that I can handle.

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

This book is powerful. The emotional depth alone is difficult to comprehend. I expected to tear through this book because of it’s length. Less than 200 pages? A day or two at the absolute most even if I’m super busy! That was not the case. It’s not because I struggled through it, or wasn’t interested, or didn’t care. The story is compelling and full of interesting Andean folklore and didn’t have any parts where nothing was going on. It was a slow process because of the emotional weight of each character. Then beyond each character – knowing that there are over 10 million undocumented people in America, that this story is relatable, and that each and every day the struggle and the suffering continue – that weight was difficult to bear. And even in saying the weight is difficult to bear, I know it is indescribably more difficult for those who live it, which multiples the weight, and thus the cycle continues.

Aside from the emotional understanding that this is one story that rings partially true for millions, Engel’s words make you want to savor each one and treat them all with care and reverence. It was like every word contained abundance within it and in order to fully grasp on, I needed to slow down and be mindful, rather than speed through it. The words are so intentional that they ask you to sit with that intention. When I’m reading, I typically like to write down the page numbers of any passages that strike me as particularly brilliant or beautiful. All of Engel’s passages are like that.

On certain autumnal days in the north, Elena could close her eyes and see the crystal sky over Bogota, a blue that only existed at that altitude, the afternoon mountain cloud cascade when twilight swept the city in gold. She still struggled with the inertia of the North American lowlands, the feeling that she was always sinking.

She would have been happy living all her life in her country. There was alegria inherent to Colombians, optimism even through tears, but never the kind of self-interrogation of “happiness” she observed in the north, the way people constantly asked themselves if they were content as if it were their main occupation in life.

Each of the characters has a different perspective and their experience of Colombia and the United States and the ever-present what-if’s that haunt them as a family separated. How can we survive the choices we’ve made? How can we know that the choices we made were right – or that there were no wrong choices after all? Their situation is impossible legally and emotionally. Their family has suffered individually and collectively. And their identities are fractured into a thousand what-if pieces. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Sur La Table Cooking Class

So last Christmas (in 2019) my parents gave me a Sur La Table gift card that would cover two of their cooking classes. It was incredibly thoughtful as I love to cook and try new things! Unfortunately I never got a chance to take any of the classes before all in-person got shut down across the state. At some point this year I started thinking that it would be fun to take some online cooking classes, and realized I could do so through Sur La Table (at a reasonable price, too)! So I looked through their February offerings and was really drawn to the Winter Harvest Risotto for a couple of reasons: 1. It sounded delicious. 2. It used seasonal ingredients. 3. All of the ingredients I knew I could find at the grocery store. 4. I had all of the appliances that were required.

When you’re on their website, you can click on the prep packet to view all of the ingredients, equipment, and preparation needed for the class to run smoothly (such as rinsing the vegetables or defrosting a frozen ingredient). Once I decided on the meal I went grocery shopping, picked up everything I needed, and then signed up for the class. On the day of the class, I got everything set up – washed all the produce, toasted the nuts, preheated the oven, put my laptop on the counter and got rid of everything that might be in the way (like my teapot). I also set up everything on two sheet pans – one for the risotto and one for the salad – and took out measuring cups and spoons based on the recipe. When the class started, Chef Kate introduced herself and said she was in Texas – which is pretty awesome! There were about 7 other “households” on the call – mostly older women and one dad with his middle school daughters from what I could see…the others didn’t have their cameras on. And then we basically just started cooking. She had a camera that allowed us to see what she was doing and just talked through the whole process. She answered questions, explained proper techniques, and gave insight about the flavors we were creating.

Pros – I learned a new skill! I got to see her make the risotto alongside me and explain how the texture of hers was as we went along, so I knew I was doing it right. That’s often what frustrates me when trying new recipes – if I follow the directions and the timing and the amounts but it comes out wrong I’m always wondering what’s wrong with me. But with this one, she was explaining every part of the process, and it took longer than the recipe stated, but we stayed the course and by the end I had a pretty decent risotto! Also, she told us fun little tid bits (like that spoons with holes in the middle are actually risotto spoons!) and gave different ways to alter the ingredients in the recipes. I feel very confident that I could recreate this dish, so in that way it was definitely effective!

Cons – She couldn’t see what I was doing or give me individual feedback or support (as a high school teacher who has been remote for an entire year at this point….it’s relatable). It went really fast. Obviously as a chef she can slice dice and chop really fast, and I had some of mine pre-cut before class started, but in an effort to really change my style to use safe procedures and handle knives the way chefs do, it slowed me down. I have been trying to cut that way every time I cook, but it’s still a slow process to changing over. It’s like changing the way you write with a pencil!

The Winter Harvest Risotto was delicious. It had butternut squash with fried sage and then a salad of winter greens with hazelnuts and apples. Plus a lovely little vinaigrette to go with the salad! The important part was that I learned some unique skills in regards to this recipe, and while it didn’t come out perfect, I have the confidence to make risotto again and do it better! Plus, I appreciated the simplicity of it and that it featured seasonal ingredients. I really loved this process, and am planning on signing up for another – at this point I’m thinking I’ll do 1 per month – just to get myself to spend some time trying new things and doing something besides watching tv!

Brit Bennett

I picked up The Mothers about a year and a half ago, but never ended up reading it. Then I chose The Vanishing Half as my book of the Month pick in July. The time just never felt right. After The Vanishing Half was named the Book of the Year, I decided that I needed to get it together and finally read these novels! So I did it back-to-back to get the interrupted Brit Bennett experience. It didn’t disappoint. Not even a little. Here are my thoughts on each of the novels:

The Mothers

This is an incredible debut. Bennett’s characters are so alive and fully formed and distinct from one another. They’re all flawed and broken and deserving of true, unconditional love. Nadia, Aubrey, and Luke demonstrate what it means to grow up too soon, to react to grief without dealing with it, to bury their pain under secrets, and to be consumed by their insecurities of what others may think of them. Nadia’s constant search for her mother, Luke’s desire to find his path after injury, and Aubrey’s need to move past her childhood abuse are the central struggles that have these characters pulling towards each other and intertwining their lives in heartbreaking ways.

Her prose shows an undeniable power to create so much meaning. Just the difference between “Daddy” and “Dad” (as outlined below) carves a powerful understanding of the gulf between them and her desire to cross it, and maybe even close it, if that’s possible.

“She hadn’t called him Daddy in years. She’d tried it out when he first came home from overseas, rolling the word around in her mouth, wondering how he might react to it. She’d been so desperate for him then, following him around the kitchen, climbing on his lap while he watched television, patting his face as soon as he’d shaved to feel his smooth cheeks. But then he’d settled back home and she’d grown up and found Dad fit him better- a curt word, a little removed.”

Bennett has a way of intertwining everyone’s story, including the Mothers. As the reader, you get to experience this story through all of them all at once, not one at a time. It’s not so much a shifting perspective as it is a fluid, communal perspective. But beyond that, it’s a commentary on humanity and the Black experience and religious expectations, especially in a small town.

“We tried to love the world. We cleaned after this world, scrubbed its hospital floors and ironed its shirts, sweated in its kitchens and spooned school lunches, cared for its sick and nursed its babies. But the world didn’t want us, so we left and gave our love to Upper Room. Now we’re afraid of this world. A boy snatched Hattie’s purse one night and now none of us go out after dark. We hardly go anywhere at all, besides Upper Room. We’ve seen what this world has to offer. We scared of what it wants.”

The consequences of one’s actions and the what if’s in this novel demonstrate the effects of decisions that extend far beyond one person. One person affects another, then another, and then an entire town and community are struggling in the grip of such a secret born of obstacles that had no clear path or right decision to be made, yet still held the weight of a lifetime of uncertainty.

The Vanishing Half

I really loved the many perspectives that this book was told from. Bennett tells the story of four who are defined by their race and how it affects every decision they make. I was a little disappointed with the ending because I felt like it didn’t really wrap Stellas story and almost contradicted itself at the end. But I loved that there were four distinct voices in the story despite all being related. I loved that each woman experienced race in a different way and that each of their stories were different.

He glanced at her, but she looked away, staring down at the photo paper as an abandoned building shimmered into view. She hated to be called beautiful. It was the type of thing people only said because they felt they ought to. She thought about Lonnie Goudeau kissing her under the moss trees or inside the stables or behind the Delafosse barn at night. In the dark, you could never be too black. In the dark, everyone was the same color.

Bennett also describes the intricacies of family and how that interferes with being an individual. This is especially true for twins, and in particular these twins, who are tied to the history of the town they grew up in. In the end, either of them would do anything for the family they created, despite the one they may have come from.

Sometimes being a twin had felt like living with another version of yourself. That person existed for everyone, probably, an alternative self that lived only in the mind. But hers was real. Stella rolled over in bed each morning and looked into her eyes. Other times it felt like living with a foreigner. Why are you not more like me? she’d think, glancing over at Desiree. How did I become me and you and become you? Maybe she was only quiet because Desiree was not. Maybe they’d spent their lives together modulating each other, making up for what the other lacked. Like how at their father’s funeral, Stella barely spoke, and when someone asked her a question, Desiree answered instead. At first it unnerved Stella, a person speaking to her and Desiree responding. Like throwing her own voice. But soon she felt comfortable disappearing. You could say nothing and, in your nothingness, feel free.

Bennett just really has this amazing style. She’s telling the story as it’s happening but also as it has already happened. She tells it from the perspective of the main character(s) individually but also as a collective town memory. And she captures the spirit of a small town so well! The way stories are passed down and changed and people are remembered and families stay and gossip gets around…it’s all captured without seeming cliche. Bennett is a unique voice with amazing stories to tell…and I can’t wait to read what’s next!

February Reality Check

I’m writing this in one of my favorite winter weekend spots: the couch at my parents house with my dog (and my brothers dog) while I’m watching one of my favorite weekend shows (am I the only one who has weekend shows and weekday shows?): The Chef Show. I love watching the friendship between Jon Favreau & Roy Choi, and obviously, I love the food. Today I’m planning to do nothing but exercise and read and snuggle the pups!

Highlights of February

  • 21 Day Fix – I completed the 21 Day Fix for the first time in my life. I have started that program more times than I can remember, but this month I finally finished it. And by the end, I was seriously feeling strong. Now I’m onto 21 Day Fix Extreme and I’ve increased my weights and really pushing myself!
  • Ankle Physical Therapy – I can really tell the difference that is in my ankle. It might always and forever be swollen and not completely healed, but it’s so strong now and I can do a lot!
  • We had a birthday party for my 10 (!!) year old cousin and we all did little animal paint-by-numbers. It was really great to spend time together and have something to do rather than just sit around and eat and talk. I feel like it made the birthday feel more special to her.
  • I ordered photo frames and photos to hang up in my apartment and start to make it feel even more like home!

What I read and watched:

  • Books
    • The Mothers by Brit Bennett (5 stars) – really loved the style in which this was written..review coming soon!
  • TV Shows
    • Fate: The Winx Saga (4 stars) – This was actually pretty good. I really liked that all of the fairies had different talents and that the enemy was complex and layered.
    • 7th Heaven Season 7 (3 stars) – All right. The show is starting to fall off a little so I see why it’s coming to an end. I’m confused about some of the storylines. However – it’s still a freakin’ 90s gem.
    • Lucifer Season 5 (5 stars) – This show is still finding unique ways to surprise me and add layers to the characters of the stories while still leaving it (somewhat) based in religious lore.
    • Firefly Lane (5 stars) – I really loved this one. I just hope there’s another season. I like that they were telling the story from three different life points (and really a fourth, with the ending). I thought it was a great story about friendship and love and struggling to have it all and not lose yourself in your life circumstances.
    • Where’d You Go Bernadette (4 stars) – I liked the acting in this one, but I was just a little confused throughout it. I thought it was a good character exploration!
    • American Murderer: The Family Next Door (5 stars) – Holy cow this show was unbelievable. The story was riveting and tragic and horrific. Really highly recommend.
    • Tiny Pretty Things (5 stars) – This show was wild. I mean it really had everything – murder, dance, high school, friendship, romance, LGBTQ representation, parental drama, sexual harassment, inappropriate relationships, manipulation….truly everything.
    • Red Dot (1 star) – This movie was horrible from start to finish. None of the people were redeemable. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I was like yep I’m ready for everyone to die so I can stop watching.
    • Outlander Season 3 (3 stars) – It takes me so long to get through these seasons now. I’m still interested in the story and the characters, but I find Claire to be SO annoying that it is hard to watch too many in a row.
    • Chef Show Volume 1 (5 stars) – I am a huge fan of this show. I love how earnest Jon Favreau is to learn different techniques and how much respect and appreciation he has for the craft. I love the friendship between Jon & Roy. I love the questions that Roy asks that add a level of complexity to the process – in a way that’s really getting to the WHY of things…not “just because that’s how I do it”. I just have a lot of respect for the passion that they have for this project which they’re so clearly just doing out of love.
    • Behind Her Eyes (4 stars) – I mean honestly shows like this aren’t really my style because the build up was so slow and it made everything so confusing, but then once I got to the end I was like OH MY GOD. I truly never saw that twist coming!
  • Shows in Progress:
    • The Bachelor Season 25
    • Married at First Sight Season 12
    • The Challenge: Double Agents Season 36
    • Prodigal Son Season 2

Here’s how I’m feeling about my 21 for 21 list so far…

  • Health – I was vegetarian for 5 days this month – ate my eggplant rollatini from the summer, and worked out every day – though my yoga practice did fall off. I did not do that great at fasting – mostly because I just wasn’t tracking it consistently, but I was pretty good about drinking water. I was unbelievably tired this month, so I’m hoping I can change my mindset a little for March.
  • Growth – I had a very consistent Duolingo streak! I only missed 4 days this month. I only read 1 book which really bothers me, so I definitely want to prioritize that in March. I tracked my spending for the month, managed to post almost every week and have been somewhat keeping up with the cleaning around here. I did not do well with posting on instagram at allllll.
  • Love – Yeah I basically didn’t do this one at all.

In March, I want to focus on getting back to what matters to me. I have spent a lot of time in February being tired and cranky and allowing myself to be that way, and maybe even convincing myself to feel that way. So March is all about a mindset shift and making sure that I’m prioritizing my goals and my health and myself.

Mistakes

One glance is all I need
and it’s like a breeze was sent to 
caress my neck and
spark a memory of the last time
the first time
every time.
But it’s the heat that lets me know
blood is still flowing
urging me on
bringing me back.
I need to take a conscious breath
to keep myself alive and 
keep myself from this
terrible adventure.
Yet somehow I find myself running towards it 
recklessly
as if it may be my only safety.
A home outside of home for which I have
so desperately been longing.
A pool to dive into
shallow and 
unfulfilling
as it may be.
But I soak it up-
I drown myself in it.
So it seeps into my skin 
burrows into my bones
waiting for the day it will 
splinter
leave me weak
pierced
right back where I was before.
Only with less time,
and more shame.

Soup Staples

The snow has been crazy and I’ve been loving every second of it! It definitely helped that I spent all of January working from home, so we didn’t have to go into school or add any extra days to the calendar in June. Not having to drive in the snow, or walk through it, or slip on the ice made this snowstorm such an enjoyable experience. I just really loved watching it fall and waking up to it covering the ground. The view from my balcony was a true delight. Plus, it gave me an excuse to be all cozy and cuddled up in blankets with some tea, which is one of my favorite things to do! Winter is not my favorite season, but I think I’ll actually miss it when it’s gone this time.

One of the absolute best parts of winter (somewhere behind Christmas and cute boots, but before cute outerwear) is that I am always in the mood for soup! And honestly, I know the creamy or cheesy soups look delicious, but I’m a big, big fan of a classic broth-based soup. I make it differently every time, but I always love it! There are definitely some staples that I typically like to incorporate that ease the process along, which I’ll explain below!

Veggies: Carrot, Onion, Celery, Garlic, Jalapeno (zucchini is another great option to add at this stage!) – chop and saute with spices in olive oil, then add a can of diced tomatoes. I know most people add potatoes, but I just am not super into them being in my brothy soups. Loaded Potato Soup, on the other hand, I am ALL about.

Broth: Vegetable or Chicken stock are probably your best options here. If you are using rotisserie chicken, pour in some of the oil, if not, a little olive oil goes a long way to adding some flavor. The broth gets added after the veggies, but before the leafy greens.

Beans: I almost always use white cannellini beans. I don’t know why I am so partial to them. But basically any bean could be used…green beans, chick peas, pinto beans, etc. Make sure you drain them, and then add the beans and the broth at the same time!

Leafy Greens: As a kid, this was almost always accomplished using the leafy tops of celery. Now I also like to include spinach when I have it on hand. This is one of the last steps, I add it to the pot when the soup is already mostly combined and let it wilt on it’s own. Another great option is cabbage – but that takes up a LOT of room before it’s cooked down and would have to be the main focus.

Spices: Totally preference based, except salt. Always add salt. My favorites are: cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, and coriander. I like to include the spices when I saute the veggies, and then add some more when I pour in the broth. Also, if I have fresh herbs on hand, I definitely use them. Thyme and oregano are my favorites for this!

Non-Vegetarian: Chicken (rotisserie is honestly probably the best, but boiled & shredded would work too), Ham (pre-cooked), Bacon (pre-cooked), or Sausage (either boiled and sliced or removed from the casings and cooked in olive oil on the stove). This should be added before the leafy greens.

Did I miss any of your favorites? Let me know in the comments! Now I’m ready to get back to savoring this lovely soup season.

January Reflection

As I’m writing this, the snow is falling and it feels like a lovely way to end January. I decided that this year, instead of only doing a yearly reflection, I’m going to do some month-by-month check-ins. I’m hoping this will help me stay accountable!

Highlights of January

  • Yoga with Adriene – I did the 30 day Breath program and I really loved it. I hope that I can continue the yoga journey. I also created a space for yoga and working out in my bedroom and having a dedicated space for it has been something I really enjoyed.
  • Fresh flowers – They have been bringing me some serious joy this winter!
  • Ankle Physical Therapy – I’ve been healing and getting stronger, which has made a lot of difference to me mentally.
  • I planned and hosted a Get to Know You event for freshman, which was really rewarding in that I know that’s what the students need and they enjoyed themselves.
  • I spent a lot of time connecting with friends and family!

What I read and watched:

  • Books
    • This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousins (4 stars) – a sweet little romance!
    • The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans (5 stars) – incredible short story collection – check out my review of it here!
    • The Heiress Gets a Duke by Harper St. George (2 stars) – really wasn’t into this one. I absolutely loved Bridgerton, but this felt very shallow to me.
    • The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins (5 stars) – loved this Jane Eyre retelling! I wrote about it here!
    • The City We Became by N. K. Jemison (5 stars) – fantasy might not be the genre for everyone, but this story was unbelievable. I loved the representation of NYC culture and the very detailed aspects of the world that Jemison both created and honored.
  • TV Shows
    • The Undoing (5 stars) – Wow. Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant are amazing in this. It was very good! Watched it in one sitting!
    • 7th Heaven Season 6 (4 stars) – 7th Heaven is outdated but relevant – I love it so much and I’m so glad I’ve been rewatching it.
    • The Queens Gambit (5 stars) – I mean – this show was awesome. Highly recommend.
    • The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 4 (3 stars) – I have always loved the Sabrina stories, but I was very disappointed with how they chose to end the series.
  • Shows in Progress:
    • The Bachelor Season 25
    • Married at First Sight Season 12
    • Real Housewives of Salt Lake City Season 1
    • Your Honor
    • The Challenge: Double Agents Season 36
    • Prodigal Son Season 2

Here’s how I’m feeling about my 21 for 21 list so far…

  • Health – I was vegetarian for 4 days this month (so not 5, but more than I’ve ever done!), started a daily yoga practice (only missed 3 days), and have been in bed much much earlier. I also did a really good job fasting (in my opinion). I fasted for 120 hours 3 out of 4 weeks, and I was pretty good about drinking water. Overall – not a bad start to the year!
  • Growth – I had a very consistent Duolingo streak! I only missed 2 days this month. I also read 5 books which puts me way ahead for my yearly goals (which is about 3 per month). I tracked my spending for the month, managed to post every week (!!) and have been keeping up with the cleaning around here.
  • Love -This is the one where I struggled the most – probably unsurprising since it’s all for me. I painted my nails 2/4 weeks, and started using loose tea, but that didn’t happen nearly as often as it should.

In February I plan to only read books written by black authors in honor of Black History Month. Additionally, I want to maintain a yoga/meditation practice, while adding in the 21 Day Fix so I can get back to working out! I’m just really hoping that the foundation I set in January will help propel me throughout February. It would be nice if these things became habits, rather than goals, so I could focus on different things!

Review of The Wife Upstairs

I first encountered Jane Eyre as a child, when I read a children’s book version (shout out to The Treasury of Illustrated Classics – I truly don’t know how you managed to make this appropriate for kids). Then I read it on my own in high school..probably due to a fond memory of reading it as a child – boy was I in for a shock – and then again during a college class. I also read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys during that same college course. All this to say…I’m quite familiar with the story of Jane Eyre. But all my prior knowledge didn’t stop me from being completely enthralled by The Wife Upstairs. I tore through it in one day!

Hawkins gives us the familiar characters, but she modernizes them and puts them in an Alabama setting to reinvent the story in an amazing way. Even though I know how the story goes and what the deal is (I mean – the title alone lets you know that something is going on), I still found myself racing to the end to see how it all plays out. I really loved that we got to read from multiple perspectives and that it was ultimately Bea telling us what happened, rather than Jane finding out. And despite her questionable actions, I found myself rooting for Jane and desperately seeking stability for her. I found her to be unique and yet exactly like everyone else – trying to fit in and feel a sense of belonging. I don’t read many thrillers, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I liked one this much.

I feel inspired to spend the next 6 months re-reading Jane Eyre & Wide Sargasso Sea and then finding and reading every single retelling out there. I think it’s safe to say I’m not going to actually do that…but I won’t be surprised if there are some more Jane-Eyre-inspired reads in my future!

Review: The Office of Historical Corrections

I don’t always love short story collections because I feel like it’s hard to be constantly learning and then abandoning new storylines and then dealing with the open-ended endings makes me feel like I’ve watched half the TV series and don’t know what’s happened at the end. Danielle Evans writes in such a distinct manner that although those feelings are still there for me, her stories stuck with me in a way that didn’t make me feel like I was just immediately forgetting everything from the prior story. It was like watching Unsolved Mysteries in that each episode and story were unique and open-ended, but I didn’t abandon my thought process about one story just because a new one had begun. All this trying-to-explain-my-experience just to say: it was a great collection.

I don’t want to spoil this delicious experience for any of you, so I’ll just talk about my top three favorite stories from the collection:

  • The Office of Historical Corrections – There are a lot of emotional layers in this one. The main character shares my name (just one letter off) and my non-confrontational feelings. At least that’s how I interpreted her…she’s still far braver and more confrontational than I am, but I think it’s because she’s dedicated to sticking to the facts that she can prove – as is her job as a member of the IPH. The story she uncovers is incredibly dynamic and ultimately highlights the generational effects of white privilege and white violence, while also arguing that even the truth is controversial if it is told in it’s complete, unedited totality.
  • Boys Go To Jupiter – This one was tough to read. It’s description on Goodreads says: “a white college student tries to reinvent herself after a photo of her in a Confederate-flag bikini goes viral,” but that is a really simplified way to describe this story. The way I read it, it’s actually a story of a girl whose life spirals after making anger-based decisions while struggling with a great deal of pain. She didn’t know how to express herself and I honestly couldn’t decide if she was blinded by that pain or just chose to not believe that her actions were inappropriate. Regardless, Evans wrote so much nuance into her that begs us to ask the questions about what defines us, how far is too far, and how to stop once you’ve started.
  • Anything Could Disappear – Similar to Boys Go To Jupiter, it is a thought-provoking account of decisions that are questionable in hindsight, but not cut and dry, and nevertheless must be dealt with. Evans dares us to consider whether we are consciously making the decisions that put us in these controversial situations, or if we’re just doing the best we can given our options even if those options are all bad. Does life happen to us and then one day we realize that we aren’t living a life that we’re proud of, or are we steering the boat all along?

Evans’ writing in this collection is masterful. She so succinctly captures life in America, consequences of actions, and how to reconcile what we’ve done with who we are. I highly recommend reading it and then taking some time to consider your own actions and whether or not they align with who you are and if the consequences could ever be worth it.