Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Book Review: Long Division by Kiese Laymon

Long DivisionLong Division by Kiese Laymon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When a book is really good, I'm excited to get to the end to see what happens, but when a book is great, I'm most anticipating reading it again in the future.

In Long Division, Citoyen 'City' Coldson is a wave brush-toting, slick-talking high schooler, growing up in present day Mississippi. After getting into a bit of trouble at school, City somehow finds himself reading a book titled Long Division, in which the main character is also a teenager named 'City,' in 1984.

I absolutely loved this book, from the first page, and I don't think I've audibly laughed from a single book so many times in my life. It's told 1st person, from City's point of view, and he's hilarious in thought and voice. He's kinda wordy, which may turn some people off, but it makes his sentences seem oddly balanced, to me, as if at a certain word in the sentence, there's a pivot, and the second half drops. I doubt that I'm expressing that clearly, and it probably doesn't make much sense, but just know that it's a good thing. Another thing, I especially appreciated, is that this book doesn't get caught up in the magic of it's fantasy elements, and doesn't make that the story. It's less important why or how these things are happening, but that it's happening and how it affects the characters, that makes this book special. Long Division touches on everything from, love, to hate, from sexuality, to racism, and responsibility, but is only ever really about one of them. Give it a read, seriously.

This is one of those books that I know I'm going to read at least a few more times in my life. I picked up my copy at the library, but I know I'm going to buy it. All things considered, it's the least I can do...

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

I Should Know Yours

My Dear Child,

     You'd be about about five months old, today. I can't tell you your exact birthday, but I can tell you we would've shared the birth month of March. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world, when I realized that. Your mother on the other hand, took it as a sign that you were already picking up your father's habits. Five months would be just old enough for me to convince myself it was fine to start passing on the hodgepodge of idiosyncrasies, that is your dad, and just young enough, that none of what I said would make a lick of sense to you. It would've been perfect. Today is Sunday, so we might have gone to church this morning, as I always wanted you to have the spiritual relationship with our maker, that I never did, at your age--or at mine, really. I would've figured that out for us. After church, we would've sat outside in the shade that the porch provides, enjoyed the breeze and watched as your older cousin struggled to ride his first big boy bike. He'd eventually get it, and then you'd know how to do it, when it was your time. We can be a little different like that. Your mother loved your grandmother's cooking almost more than I do, so we would've had family dinner today, I think. You wouldn't have struck me as the meat and potatoes type, just yet, so I would've mushed up some green beans, to give you a taste. I'd even have some mushy green beans myself, just so you wouldn't be alone. Just a little different.

     Sadly, we never got to spend today or any other days together. I never got to see you come into the world, the way I'd always hoped. I never caught your first tears in the lights of my most recent, or saw your first smile. You never looked on me with new eyes, and I didn't get time with you, in which to impart my seemingly nonsensical life lessons. We didn't watch your cousin struggle outside with his bike today, and I didn't have mushy green beans with you at dinner tonight. Reservations were already made for you. God had plans for all of us, really. Only God knew that I'd hoped for you two to be closer than he and I ever were. One year ago, today, he invited you to his house, to his dinner table, and then exactly one week from that day, he bought your mother home, to be with you. Though not here with me, there's no place I'd rather you two be more than Heaven. It's a much nicer home than I could have ever given us.

    Dearest ones, I love you, more than a simple blog post could ever express. I wasn't blessed with the gift of the written word, as much as I hope I am with that of thought, and you two are ever in mine. Truly, I do not know what it's like to want something as much as I want you...want us. Although I'm not privy to it, and I don't claim to understand it, I promise there's a plan, and that we'll be together eventually. There has to be. I've lived on that truth, almost exclusively, since you's a  real thing. One day we'll see who's been picking up whose habits. We'll be together.


P.S. You should also know my smile. :)