My Friend Amy ~ The Kool-Aid Flavor of the Week

Kool-Aid Mom's Award

My Friend Amy

Amy at My Friend Amy is this week’s Kool-Aid Flavor of the Week for stepping out of her comfort zone and saying what needed to be said, regardless of whether it offended readers.  It wasn’t something she wanted to do, offend people, but she felt she needed to say what was on her mind because it was the right thing to do.

Before I had read this post, I hadn’t known anything of the whitewashing of covers.   Amy’s post also made me aware of other bloggers out there that I hadn’t read like Susan of Color Online and Ari of Reading In Color, who led me to several other wonderful new blogs, as well.  My Google Reader has nearly doubled in subscriptions, and I’m better for the diversity it has brought.  Her post has also made me think about how I, a white person, have been fairly cacooned to a lot of the issues people of color face.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about what it means for Maggie, especially, being half-Vietnamese in a community where there are few Asians.  There have been candid conversations with her recently in which she’s expressed how she sometimes wishes she was all of one or the other instead of biracial.  Recently, her classroom finally received a second Asian, but to her dismay, the new person is a boy.  Besides the fact he is a BOY, and icky by gender (she’s in 5th grade, lol), she’s not terribly fond of him as a person (he says “Man!” a lot, and is disgusting and ill-mannered, according to her) and she says he looks like her daddy.  I’ve not seen the boy yet, but since he’s on the basketball team and she’s a cheerleader, I will see him at their first home game.  One of the things that distresses her most about Day Day is that all of their classmates are trying to push them together as boyfriend and girlfriend, just because he’s Asian.  Honestly, I think she’d like him as a friend, she does shows occasional admiration for him and, apparently, he has the redeeming quality of standing up for others from stories she’s told.

All of that paragraph was to say that Amy’s post On Being Offended has made me think a lot about how can I help Mags navigate through growing up and try to be supportive and understanding.  I can understand to an extent what it’s like for her, but I can never fully understand.  I see her beauty, grace and athleticism, and intelligence and listen to her talk about being an 10-year-old girl, and I am perplexed by the mystery of it all.  I was an overweight, social misfit, and never understood the social play that went on between my peers until I was in my mid-twenties.  Add to that the fact that when people look at her, they see a person of color and have reactions to that, either involuntary or conscious.

Most who meet Mags for the first time think she’s Hispanic, partly because there is a lot more Latinos than Asians, but also because most of her close friends are Spanish.  She is already beginning to feel the pains of racism as one of her classmates is known to “hate Mexicans”, and another accuses Maggie of being racist because she’s interested in Asian things.  And I’m beginning to see it having an effect on her this year as she’s starting to become a bit more shy and reserved, and less of the outgoing little girl who knew, at 18-months-old, how to get strangers to help her do and get the things she wanted.  I don’t know what to do to help her, other than love her and encourage her and to remind her who she really is.  AND I know this will only get harder for her as she gets older.

Well, this post is NOT where I wanted it all to go, but it kept winding back that way all the same, and perhaps that is part of what Amy’s post has done.  Her post, along with Lenore’s International Book Bloggers Mentor Program and Dawn’s Kiva posts, has made me think and think a lot about my place among so many both in the blogosphere and in the world. They impressed me enough that I wanted to tell others how much so by started the Flavor of the Week.

And now I’m out of Flavors that I had in the can, so I want y’all to let me know who has inspired you to think?  What Blogger is your Flavor of the Week?  What posts have made you reach outside of yourself and do something community-wise? 

Don’t forget to check out On Being Offended at My Friend Amy, it’s an excellent post 🙂

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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Giveaway

I’m currently about halfway through Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, and it’s both sad and grieving, but also full of hope, acceptance and personal growth.  I will be posting the review of this book on May 11th, as part of the Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tour.

The author’s name, Jamie Ford, is deceptive.  “Ford is the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated in 1865 from Kaiping, China, to San Francisco, where he adopted the Western name “Ford,” thus confusing countless generations” 🙂  He is also of Southern gentility, giving him a multicultural worldview.  AND… he’s quite a cutie, I might add 😉

More about Jamie (Ja Mei to his Yin-Yin):

Career-wise, Jamie went to art school in Seattle to become an illustrator, and ended up an art director/copywriter. He’s won an embarrassingly large amount of meaningless awards including 400+ Addys, 7 Best-of-Shows, and his work has appeared in Adweek, Advertising Age, Graphis and Communication Arts. He also had a commercial appear on an episode of The U.K.’s Funniest Commercials inspired by an embarrassing incident with a bidet that he’d rather not go into right now.

On the writerly side, he won the 2006 Clarity of Night Short Fiction Contest, was First Runner-Up in the 2006 Midnight Road Reader’s Choice Awards and was a Top-25 finalist in Glimmer Train’s Fall 2006 Short Story Award For New Writers. He’s been published in The PicolataReview, and his fiction is online at Flashing in the Gutters and Fictional Musings. He’s also an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and a survivor of Orson Scott Card’s Literary Bootcamp.

On the personal side, he’s the proud father of two boys and two girls. Yep, it’s chaos, . but the good kind of chaos.
For more information about the author or his work, please visit http://www.jamieford.com/
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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a heartwarming story about fathers and sons, first loves, fate, and the resilient human heart. Set in the ethnic neighborhoods of Seattle during World War II and Japanese American internment camps of the era, the times and places are brought to life.  In the following video, Jamie Ford gives you the “behind-the-scenes” story of his debut novel.
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I’m really loving this book, and I want to share it and pass it on to someone who is going to enjoy it, too. Instead of posting it on BookMooch or PaperBackSwap,  I’m going to give away my copy here on my blog 🙂 
So here’s the way this giveaway is going to work:
For your official entry you’ll need to leave a comment on my book review  to let me know you would like to be entered for a chance to win.
BUT….
You can also earn extra entries by:
  1. Post this giveaway on your blog and leave me a comment here with the link for 5 bonus entries.
  2. If you don’t have a blog, email at least 5 people about the giveaway with the link to this post, and include my email address, ibetnoonehasthisdamnid@yahoo.com in the BCC (blind copy) bar for 3 bonus entries.
  3. Follow me on Twitter, and tweet about this giveaway for 2 bonus entries. (be sure to include @thekoolaidmom in your tweet, that way I’ll catch your tweet and give you credit)
  4. Leave a comment here for 1 bonus entry, and 10 bonus entries for answering this question,

 “What tangible thing (a toy, record, woobie, etc) from your childhood you wish you had back the most?  What does this item mean to you?”

If you do all the above, you’ll earn 21 bonus entries!  Don’t forget, though, you have to leave a comment on the review, otherwise… ya get nada!

And now, for the boring details:

  1. Contest is open to anyone, anywhere, so long as you have a place to receive mail.  I can’t ship the book to “The VAN down by the river,” you need an actual, deliverable address… Which means, this is open to international readers, as well 😀
  2. Contest ends at 11:59 pm, Saturday May 16th, 2009.
  3. All entries will be listed randomly and numbered, then the winning number will be chosen using Research Randomizer.  If you’d like a copy of the list of entries, email me and I’ll be happy to send it 🙂
  4. The Winner will be announced in my May 17th Sunday Salon post, and will have 48 hours to email me their address or be disqualified and a replacement winner will be chosen.

Okay, so get busy posting and tweeting and emailing, and whatnot!

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

Title:  The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

Author:  Michael Chabon

Soft Cover:  411 pages

Publisher:  Harper Perennial

Publish Date:  2007

ISBN:  9780007149834

Miscellaneous:  This is a P.S. edition

Nine months Landsman’s been flopping at the Hotel Zamenhof without any of his fellow residents managing to get themselves murdered.  Now somebody has put a bullet in the brain of the occupant of 208, a yid who was calling himself Emanuel Lasker.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon, page 1.

This first paragraph of Michael Chabon’s book about Jews living in the Federal District of Sitka as an interim homeland after Israel failed after three months of Statehood in the alternate timeline of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.  Now, as the Sitka District is two months from reverting back to the control of the state of Alaska, homicide detective Meyer Landsman, occupant of room 505 of the Zamenhof, a hotel that’s only half a step up from a flea bag flop house, is called on by the night manager to investigate the murder of a man in room 208.  It is apparent from the start that the man is not who he claims to be, and the only clues Landsman has is the bullet hole in the man’s head, a chessboard in mid game, a book of 300 chess moves and the evidence of heroin abuse.

Throughout the book, the reader is able to see and feel the inside world of a Jewish community.  With it’s humor and sprinkling of Yiddish words and phrases, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union begins as a murder mystery but spreads to include the prejudices not only from the outside world, but those within the sects and families within the Jews of the Sitka District and outlying areas, and the political manipulations going on from Washington, D.C. and the Sitka bosses.

As a murder mystery, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is good, but what I really loved about the book was its use of the game of chess as a metaphor and to foreshadow the events in the story.  The use of strategies and tactics to reveal the nature of the characters.  And it is the game that was forever stop mid-play in the dead man’s room that ultimately leads to the capture and confession of the killer.

Besides chess, murder, and Jewish culture, the book deals with the universal nature of a child’s desire for the approval and acceptance from his or her parents, even when that child is a burly man in his thirties and a father himself.  Homosexuality, drug use, alcoholism, and the supernatural all make appearances in The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.

While I did enjoy this book, I have to say I had hoped it would be more compelling.  I reached the end of the book with the sadness often felt at the departure from the world and people within the covers.  The book didn’t really impress me much, and it will probably be forgotten in six months.  I give The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon 3 out of 5 stars.  It was good but not great, interesting but not a page-turner.

 

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