Spirituality in the 21st Century by Frank P. Daversa offers readers Frank’s personal take on spirituality while reflecting on his own beliefs. I knew this book was going to resonate with my own personal experience, at least to some degree, because Daversa describes himself as spiritual but not religious, which is how I would describe myself as well.
Daversa’s take on spirituality is exactly as he explains it, a “primer” towards one’s own spiritual self-discovery. Daversa’s provides a space for conversation about spirituality and one’s own faith. He states that there are three spiritual lessons that as humans we should concern ourselves with and those are global warming, overpopulation and environmental degradation. He states that he considers them as “spiritual” because we have to reach deep into our souls to work towards fixing these issues. His take on spirituality in the 21st century also deals with consumerism and how we should focus on what we need rather than what we want. I was surprised to see this as a part of spirituality but he argues that we should be more conscious of this. He ties this point later to the way in which we tend to attach ourselves. He clarifies that he doesn’t find anything wrong with material possessions but basing our worth on those possessions isn’t beneficial to anyone. I found this to be enlightening especially as there has been more discussion around consumerism, specifically sustainable consumerism.
This is by far one of the most open to discussion books I’ve read about spirituality this year. As it is centered around the 21st century I’m glad that the author Frank P. Daversa included the Black and LGBTQ+ community in his discourse. I definitely recommend Spirituality in the 21st Century to anyone who considers themselves spiritual, whether you’re just beginning the journey or are familiar with it. Spirituality in the 21st Century is thought-provoking and intellectually invigorating.
Pages: 108 | ASIN: B079J5VL55
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Profiles of KAD Relations with the Black Community by Yi Woo Ae, is a study and exploration of the ways in which the lives of minorities, especially the Asian and Black communities, in the United States are intertwined. The book is divided into three complimentary and enlightening parts: a short history, profiles, a quick-start guide, and an explanation of traumas that result from adoption.
The author, who is a Korean adoptee, offers a unique and varied perspective on these issues. She makes a case for the Korean Adoptees acting as a crucial link in the Black Lives Matter movement. She advocates for the strength of the Black-Korean relations and also states the need for including adoption-based and race-based trauma in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The writing is engaging and clear– giving a background history and showing the intersection of different lives in a well-researched and factual manner. It is very interesting to see how she overlaps her personal experiences with the underlying narrative.
Watching the Black Lives Matter movement unfold, while I felt moved and enraged, I was unable to comprehend the nature of the movement in its entirety. This book went a long way in helping me understand the way Asian communities perceive and interact with African American communities. While I am not a part of either community, it helped me to identify the key variables of these issues and I found myself pondering the ways in which my own community interacts with others. I was especially drawn to the profiles- the anecdotes and confessions of KADs growing up in an environment that is simultaneously their own and foreign. They are insightful because they talk about the grounded reality of racism and show the ways in which their lives and thought processes are impacted by it. Even though this is targeted towards Koream adoptees– as a guide for them on how to have difficult conversations, I felt like I came away more confident in both my knowledge and curiosity.
Profiles of KAD Relations with the Black Community is a profound book of depth and intelligence that shines a light on a little understood, and acknowledged, problem in society. This is a thought-provoking book that is well researched and provides wise and rational insight on a topic that is vitally important.
Pages: 272 | ASIN: B08NLLMB9W
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It’s an important time in every young adult’s life: the final summer before post-secondary school and after high school. It’s a transitional period where one goes from being a teenager towards becoming an adult. For a young man who lost his parents before he could tie his own shoes, this final summer holds more than just pre-school anxieties. Wil Carter is preparing to head off to school in Just Shut Up and Drive by Chynna Laird but his grandfather, Gramps, has other ideas in mind. While Wil just wants to work and hang out with his friends, Gramps prefers to toss his charge into a classic truck and head on a road trip. This is a coming of age story where the bond between a young man and the only father he has ever known is tested, strengthened and celebrated. This is a journey across the prairies of Canada that will touch your heart and possibly make you cry.
Our tale starts with Wil and Gramps arguing about a road trip that the senior has pushed on his grandson. The dynamic relationship between Wil and Gramps is funny, heart-breaking and above all else: realistic. This is a delicate and interesting relationship that is being described. We have an eighteen-year-old boy and a ninety-five-year-old man with more than a ‘generation gap’ between. Gramps is the one who raised Wil after the untimely death of his parents in an automotive accident. While each gives as good as he gets there is a nostalgic respect that Wil holds for his grandfather. You can hear the irritation in his voice as he deals with the elder man’s stubborn personality but you can also hear the respect he has for him as well. Wil was not a golden child while growing up and as he is aging and moving forward with his life he is beginning to understand everything his grandfather has done for him. The description of the relationship between the two and the dynamic in action seems like something out of a movie.
Laird knows what Manitoba, Canada looks like and appears to have at least visited the cities, villages and towns described in the book. For readers who live near or in a location used in any story faithfulness to the recreation is paramount. Laird uses local vernacular when referring to some of the locations and even though the story takes place in modern times, Gramps’ relaxed and sentimental accent rubs off on Wil. While it could be said that Laird sometimes tries a bit too hard to make Gramps really sound like a stereotypical old man, it doesn’t detract from the story.
While a road trip before heading off to university or college is an idea that has been done before, Just Shut Up and Drive by Chynna Laird brings more than just self-discovery to the tale. Wil not only learns about himself on his journey with his grandfather. He also learns about the parents he can barely remember. He learns about what he is capable of when a small child stows away in his truck, begging for help. He learns what it takes to be a man to the standards of what his grandfather has wanted for him. This book is a delightful short read that will tug at your heart strings while making you laugh at the same time.
Pages: 166 | ASIN: B00DGJK3B8
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Sunny Beaumont is the protected, pampered teenaged daughter of President Peter Beaumont. It might seem like a charmed life, but Sunny is trapped in a class-based society where her only friends are her stylist and her robot. She’s a budding computer genius and tinkerer, keeping herself busy with low-level hacking and rebuilding obsolete equipment for fun.
When Sunny needs a part for her project, she discovers it inside the Ghetto—the compound where criminals are confined for the good of society. When she ventures in to retrieve it, she’s kidnapped by the resistance. Her experience helps her discover that the rigid class system is hurting innocent people. Can she use her position to change society? Or will she accept the status quo?
If you’re a fan of the film District 9, you’ll enjoy Ghetto by M.L. Sparrow. The book examines similar social issues including segregation, guilt by association, and injustice. Though it was a little slow to start, the author uses the first few chapters to provide a lot of detail about the world Sunny lives in. Every member of society carries a brand that’s impossible to remove and mandatory for living in the city. The brand is so important that it’s a capital offense no not have a brand. It’s definitely written for a younger audience, but the fast-paced plot and rich descriptions make it a good read for any age. Told in the first person, Sunny shows us her world in her words and helps readers understand her actions and her motivations behind them.
When Sunny is kidnapped, she’s initially terrified, but the longer she stays as a “guest” of the resistance, the more she realizes that things aren’t right. She questions herself, even wondering if she’s experiencing Stockholm Syndrome until it’s clear to her that the system that was supposed to provide safety and security has gone terribly wrong.
She starts to make friends with other group members like Maya and Kit and develops a crush—and a tentative truce—with Sin, the leader. Of course, a romance slowly develops between Sin and Sunny. I really enjoyed that it wasn’t sudden, or forced, and they butted heads and fought until they were friends, and the romance came naturally. She also makes real friends for the first time in her life, people who like her for who she is, not her social position.
One thing I really liked about the book is the action. The author is very good at pacing and tension and setting a mood so realistic that at times, I felt like I was part of the story. There are only a few instances of actual violence, and those are handled in a realistic manner. It was also refreshing when Sunny realized that violence wasn’t the solution; the real fight was in the arena of public opinion.
The biggest problem with Ghetto wasn’t the story, or characters, or plot. There are too many errors in the text. No book is perfect; I see typos in nearly every book I read. But there were enough punctuation problems and homonym errors that I got distracted and couldn’t overlook them. A good proofreading pass would catch these, and would make this gem of a novel shine brighter. That said, it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story.
Overall, I recommend Ghetto for the great characters and the rich world that M.L. Sparrow builds. If you’re a fan of dystopian fiction, science fiction, or you’re just looking for a good romance, you won’t be disappointed!
Pages: 382 | ISBN: 1516913744
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