Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: I am Change by Suzy Zail

Firstly, I want to say a HUGE Thank-You to Walker Books for sending me a review copy of this fantastic title. As soon as I saw it in the catalogue of titles to be released, I knew I needed to read it.  I knew it was going to be important, not only for cultural awareness, but also for women, for girls to realise just how important and special they really are. I wasn’t let down. I so, so appreciate the opportunity to spread awareness for this novel. I want to shout it from the rooftops, if you haven’t read this book, you need to.

This review only contains one spoiler, about a graphic scene towards the end of the book, if you don’t want to be spoiled, may I suggest clicking HERE to read my spoiler free review on GoodReads.

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Photo taken by @bookish.intoxication

I Am Change by Suzy Zail

5/5 Stars

Published August 1st 2019 by Black Dog

GoodReads

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the minute you open the cover of this book, you will be hooked, mesmerised by the sheer different world that Lilian and her family live in. Zail has written a masterpiece, inspired by women who have lived through similar situations and have found their own voices to share their stories with the world.

Suzy Zail is a master story teller, one that will have you so entranced in this tale of change that you won’t know what day or time it is, when you finish reading. Zail has a way of writing with such honesty and sincerity, that you believe every word Lilian says or writes, that you feel her emotion leaping from the page, that you live through her horrors with her. The pacing is perfect throughout the title, it flows with the soft cadence of a stream, it allows you to indulge in the lilt of the language used and fully process it as you read.

I Am Change, is the book that we needed, the book we knew we needed, but weren’t really sure when it was going to come. It is passionate, honest, raw and gritty. It will make you cry and make you laugh, make you sigh and shout in frustration. It is a conversation starter, it will make you want to talk about women’s rights, about the things that women in Western worlds take for granted and what you can do to help those who don’t have the opportunity or chances to make a better life for themselves.

I can’t imagine the pain that Lilian must suffer through for the sake of her mothers’ traditional beliefs. I don’t want to go into too much detail, as the scene itself is heart-wrenchingly graphic. But In Lilian’s mother’s clan, the Sabiny, it is common practice, for the girls to be ‘cut’ when they reach a certain age. The cutting isn’t the labia, as most people are aware of, but of the clitoris. What makes this procedure so much more horrific is that most girls have no idea what is about to happen to them or why, just that it is something that they are expected to live through silently. For Lilian, it was worse again, because she knew about the process, about that part of her and she knew that she should have had a choice. That it was her body and she should have been able to have some say over it. It shows us that we are incredibly lucky to live the way that we do, with choice over our bodies and the right to say no.

“It was only the kintir. It is a stubborn thing and only gets you in trouble. It is my job to tame you” p277

But all through the pain and the psychological anguish, Lillian kept bargaining for her right to go to school. She knew it was the only way that she would ever get out of this place, away from the traditions, to stop the next generation of girls from going through what she, herself, went through.

I am so proud of Lillian for standing up for herself, especially in a culture where women are expected to do whatever their husband, father, brother, or any other male, says. She wasn’t ready to lose her virginity, to lose all of her freedom, to lose her voice, and she spoke up, unafraid of what it would cost her, because she knew, the knew that she was worth more than that.

“It was her body and she;d decide what to do with it” p292

 

I am Change, has me experiencing all the feminist feels, in a way that I didn’t expect. It really drives home the importance of girls and young women being educated about their bodies, how they work and why they change. About their self worth, about why it is so important to speak up if you are uncomfortable. This book is going to start so many conversations that need to be started, that needed to be started years ago.

It is one heart break after another, to be a girl, growing up in Uganda. You can’t love a boy, because love leads to kissing and kissing alone can give you a bad reputation so you aren’t worth much when you are sold for marriage. You can’t get a full education after the age of 16 because then you are too old to be worth much, when you are sold to be married. Are you picking up a common theme here? I am devastated for Lillian, again she is being ripped away from the one thing that is giving her purpose, that makes her soul sing. I am so angry that this is how girls are treated, yes I am aware that this is a work of fiction, but this fiction is inspired by real tales from girls growing up in this way. I wish those souls hadn’t had to suffer.

With each chapter, I am prouder of Lilian, she is sparking so much change in the women around her, just by being herself, by sharing her dreams of having a better life, of women being equal to men. I knew something had sparked in Amara, something that would come to help Lilian in some way, and it has. Women helping, inspiring and saving other women is something that we don’t see enough of, in todays society, we are all about being better than, having more followers than, being more popular than, and it is horrible. Ladies, build each other up, not tear each other down!

 

I Am Change is such a thought provoking and eye-opening book. One that will have you on the edge of your seat, laughing and crying along side these amazingly multi-faceted characters. I think what makes this book so much more relatable, shocking and intense, is that Zail, as she mentions in her Author Notes and Acknowledgements, travelled to Uganda and met thirty girls all living a life like Lilian. Zail, went to their villages, their homes, their schools, experienced the lives that they lived. Saw what it was like to be a woman, living like a second-rate citizen, because men are valued more than women. The fact that this author felt like she needed to do something for these women, to get their stories out there, is inspiring.

I think at the heart of this book, the message is that women hold more value than we realise. That we are so used to competing with each other, to trying to be what magazines tell us we should be, to pleasing and being what men want us to be, that we forget, we are people too. People who deserve to have rights, to be seen, to have an education and to have dreams. I think this book is going to unite people, to spark conversations and to be the change that women around the world need.

This is an amazing read, if you get the opportunity to read it, you definitely need to pick it up.

P.S.

If you are inspired, like I am after reading this book and want to do something, follow the links below for more information. Any tiny donation can make a world of difference.

Help Girls Learn: Uganda:  https://www.mycause.com.au/page/106767/help-girls-learn-uganda

One Girl: https://donate.onegirl.org.au/Donate/MakeADonation

Girl Child Network: http://gcnuganda.org.

 

Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

Julie

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Cloud Boy by Marcia William

Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to Walker Books Australia, Georgie, specifically. I have read so many amazing titles from this fantastic company this year, and I am so greatful for the opportunity to be able to read some fantastic Aussie fiction.

This review does contain spoilers, if you haven’t read it (and you really should), please click THIS link, and read my spoiler-free Good review!

 

9781406381214

 

Cloud Boy by Marcia Williams

Published  April 4th 2019 by Walker Books

GoodReads

This bloggers star rating: 4/5 Stars

 

 

 

 

Let me begin with what an engaging cover! The shorter length of this book is inviting especially as this is a middle-grade book. It sounds incredibly moving and thought provoking. I can’t wait to start!

The second you open the cover of this book, everything is super-cute and fun. I love the cloud illustrations on the title page, giving you the names and shapes of different clouds.

Okay, this is awesome! It is presented as Angies diary! What a wonderful touch, it gives the reader a feeling of being closer to the protagonist, as though we were her trusted friend. I am smiling so much already and I haven’t even started reading yet!

Cloud Boy, is magical. It has so many facets that go deeper than two friends, loving their new treehouse. I am scared, there is already talk of Harry’s headaches and I am not prepared for the sadness of it.

The element of Grandma Gertie is amazing. What a great way to incorporate a touch of history into a middle-grade title! It softly shows the reader about being a Prisoner of War (POW) as a child and how scary it was to live through it. The letters to Grandma Gerties Kitten are a gorgeous touch, making it seem more real and relateable.

I love how this book is written, Angie has such a tremendous energy, her words leap off the page, daring you to read on.

P.S I am so jealous of their treehouse.

This book is breaking my heart. It is so innocent. The emotions you feel while reading about children reacting to and interpreting hospitals, operations and parents is surprising. Reading Angie’s point-of-view is incredibly moving and sad. All she wants is to make sure her friend is okay, she even shaved her head to match Harry, but she feels duped and rejected because the adults in her life won’t allow her to see him…. On that note, I truly hope that Harry is okay, that his parents aren’t hiding him because he isn’t recovering well.

I am really enjoying reading about Grandma Gertie’s letters and her courage during the war. I am a huge history buff, so this kind of thing really gets my happy place, buzzing! I think it really pushes what this book is all about. Courage and friendship, being strong and supporting your loved ones, when things get scary and hard.

I’m even learning about clouds, who knew there were so many different types!

I adore how this book captures the impulsivity and fluidity of childood friendship. How tiny things can cause you to be unfriended but all is forgiven aftger a good night’s sleep.

This book is going to break your heart, just as it has broken mine. I didn’t expect that Harry wouldn’t get better. But for him to pass away, at home, surrounded by his loved ones is a gift that not many people receive. Angie knew at the end. She hid under her bed, hiding from the reality that her best friend wouldn’t be around much longer. Avoiding going to see him. I am almost too scared to read the last twenty-ish pages. My heart can’t take anymore sadness.

Oh… that’s why Grandma Gertie held off on giving Harry the quilt! I don’t think I  have mentioned it, but when Grandma Gertie was a girl, stuck in the POW camp, her and the other girl guides made a quilt using scraps of material and cotton from the hems of their clothing, for their friend, for Christmas. It ended up being quite a famous quilt and it inspired Angie to make one, detailing her and Harry’s frienship, to make Harry feel better. But Grandma Gertie, kept saying it wouldn’t be ready for Harry for Christmas, and I think I know why. She knew that Angie would need the quilt more than Harry would. That Angie would need to be able to look back on all of the wonderful times that she spent with Harry, and their cloud watching in Artcloud (treehouse).

Reading about Angie’s greif is heartbreaking. Not oly is she trying to deal with her own pain, she has to deal with evertone elses as awell. Her greif is manifesting in anger, she is in full destruction mode and can’t help what is in her path. She didn’t mean to destroy Harry’s cloud journals, but they made her feel too much, they made her upset and angry and she couldn’t look at them anymore. But once she destroyed them, she regretted it and she lost the respect and friendship of Harry mum. Which is the very last thing that Angie needed at that stage in her greif.

What a heartwarming ending. Even though she is dealing with her own greif, Angie still has the strength to do something for other people, for Harry’s memory.

I am blown away that the historical element of Grandma Gertie’s quilt was actually based on fact. Just another amazing quality that this book has!

This book is such a fantastic way to teach younger readers about sickess hope, courage and loss. It shows how greif affects people differently and how families cope in different ways. It shows the importance of spending time with people, of facing them, even when you are scared, because you know it will make them feel better.

Angie’s character is incredible. She is a spitfire, filled with life and vigour. I have no doubt that she will grow up to be a glider pilot. Her character is so important because it shows every aspect of slowly losing your best friend, your way of life, and growing to accept it. Angie is smart, strong and emotional and that is what makes her so special.

Cloud Boy will draw you in with a writing style that won’t let you go. It is written as though it is Angie’s diart, which makes it easy to read, but also so easy to fall into the story and really feel what Angie is feeling. The pacing is perfect, at a solid mid-pace. Angie seems to talk/write very quickly though, so the latter sections add a slowness that the tale really needs.

A captivating tale that shows us an earth-moving friendship and the courage it takes to truly love another person.

I can’t reccommend this book enough. It is middle-grade, so you will find it easy to read, but it is amazing and you need it in your life.

 

Thanks for reading!

Julie