Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi – An Escapist and Resonant “Slice of Life” Story

Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi. Reviewed by Joce, The Quiet Pond.

Summary:

On paper, college dropout Pablo Rind doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. His graveyard shift at a twenty-four-hour deli in Brooklyn is a struggle. Plus, he’s up to his eyeballs in credit card debt. Never mind the state of his student loans.

Pop juggernaut Leanna Smart has enough social media followers to populate whole continents. The brand is unstoppable. She graduated from child stardom to become an international icon and her adult life is a queasy blur of private planes, step-and-repeats, aspirational hotel rooms, and strangers screaming for her just to notice them.

When Leanna and Pablo meet at 5:00 a.m. at the bodega in the dead of winter it’s absurd to think they’d be A Thing. But as they discover who they are, who they want to be, and how to defy the deafening expectations of everyone else, Lee and Pab turn to each other. Which, of course, is when things get properly complicated.

Joce’s review:

Permanent Record is a novel that takes its time. It acknowledges the reverberation of unresolved parental marital issues that trickles down into parenting styles, in minute and nuanced ways. It’s not a book that spelled everything out for me, but that’s the way I like things: kind of like a slice of life manga or anime. It’s a snippet into these people’s lives as opposed to A Story with exact plot points where you can see the outline, and the perfect novel for a hazy rainy day.

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Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera – An Analysis of its Fantastic Socio-Political Themes; A Metaphor for Classism, Institutional Control, and the American Dream [Not a Book Review]

Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera, analysed by CW, The Quiet Pond

Today’s post is in vein of something that I don’t do often (but wish I did more): a book analysis! Typically, I review books for The Quiet Pond but my analyses in book reviews are generally superficial and more orientated towards my thoughts about a book. However, I had the chance to read Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera and finished it last week.

What stuck out to me while reading Dealing in Dreams was that the themes were fantastic – and really resonated with me. When I started book reviewing in 2015, my main motivation for book reviewing was to engage with books on a sociologically and critical level and write analyses about what I’ve read. Though my motivations for book reviewing have now changed – I write book reviews because I want to promote inclusive literature – there are times where I read a book that resonates with me and engages with me on a critical and sociological level. The last time I did a book analysis, it was for Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan – a book that I found very engaging, layered, and made me want to analyse it for fun. (Whether it’s a good analysis is beside the question, but I did have fun doing it!)

Dealing in Dreams unexpectedly engaged me – I was prepared for a fun and gritty dystopian book about Latinx girls surviving a desolate landscape. I did forget, though, that dystopia often have social discourse – and there was certainly discourse in Dealing in Dreams. Moreover, I feel pretty compelled to write about it, because Dealing in Dreams captures the themes that I loved learning about when I was in studying Sociology way back when. Nonetheless, I’m pretty excited to write this analysis today.

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Five Reasons To Read: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo – A Heart-Warming Story About Being a Teenager, a Mother and the Magic of Food

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo.

Blurb:

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

CW’s review:

When the world tells you that Elizabeth Acevedo, author of the stunning and revolutionary novel-in-verse The Poet X, has written another book called With the Fire on High and that it is as incredible as her first book? You read it – because not only is With the Fire on High indisputably fantastic but, if you read it, you will definitely thank yourself for it later.

Told with Acevedo’s heart-warming and soulful prose, With the Fire on High follows Emoni, an Afro-Puerto-Rican teen and mother, and how she wrestles with being a mum, being a teen, daring to follow her dreams to become a culinary chef, and the weight of responsibilities to be and do all of the above at once.

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Moonstruck, Volume 1: Magic to Brew by Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle – Cute But Somewhat Confusing

Text: Moonstruck by Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle. Image: A brown girl with dark brown natural hair and a light brown skin with blonde hair, sitting across from each other.

Blurb:

In the little college town of Blitheton, fantasy creatures live cozy, normal lives right alongside humans, and werewolf barista Julie strives to be the most normal of all. But all heck breaks loose when she and her new girlfriend Selena go on a disastrous first date that ends with a magician casting a horrible spell on their friend Chet. Now it’s up to the team of mythical pals to stop the illicit illusionist before it’s too late!

Joce’s review:

The first volume of MOONSTRUCK is divided into five different issues, focusing on the main character, Julie, who is a werewolf and plus-sized Latinx woman. She is in a relationship with Selena, who is a werewolf and Black woman. Julie is a barista at the Black Cat Cafe in a small college town where she works with her best friend Chet. Chet’s gender identity is never explicitly stated, but they use they/them pronouns, and at one point, a male character and Chet show romantic interest in one another. Throughout the story, we meet different creatures, animals, and spirits who live in Blitheton, including Dorian the magician, whose magic show Julie and Selena go to for their first date and who casts a spell on Chet.

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BLOG TOUR: Not Your Backup by C.B. Lee – Expectedly Light-Hearted and Unexpectedly Critical; Featuring The Queer Latinx Heroine We’ve All Been Waiting For

Text: C.B. Lee, Not Your Backup; Sidekick Squad Blog Tour! 27th May - 7th May. Image: A brown teen with short dark brown hair in mid-jump.

“Friend! Today is finally the day!”

Xiaolong looks particularly excited today, and you don’t blame her. Today is the first day of the Sidekick Squad blog tour (you know this, because Xiaolong has been reminding you for days now!) and it is her first time organising such a big and important event!

Xiaolong the axolotl, holding up a copy of NOT YOUR BACKUP by C.B. Lee and smiling“There will be friends visiting the Pond today and I want to look my best.” She stands a little straighter, magicks a copy of Not Your Backup, and gives you her best pose. “Friend, I’m feeling a little nervous. Do you think I can practice my pitch of this book with you?”

You happily agree. She does look a little nervous, but you know that she just needs a little encouragement.

She clears her throat with an ‘ahem!’ and raises the book up to show you. “Friend, you know how much I love the Sidekick Squad series! And oh my, this third book was everything that I wanted! I mean, it has action, there’s friendship, there’s even some exploration about love and attraction and romance and identity! I just loved it.”

You give her an encouraging nod and tell her that she’s doing good so far! Xiaolong seems to relax at your assurances, and gives you a big smile.

“Well, friend, since you have me started, I want to tell you more about this book! So, Not Your Backup is so awesome because…”

Foreword and gratitude

Three years ago, I read a book that changed my life.

That book was Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee. Not Your Sidekick was one of the first books where I saw myself represented; it was the first time I had felt seen. Reading Jess’s struggle with her diaspora identity struck such a deep chord within me, and I’ve been in love with the Sidekick Squad series and its wonderful characters ever since.

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