Monthly Archives: April 2022

Out of the Blue by Jason June

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Out of the Blue by Jason June

June, Jason. Out of the Blue. HarperTeen, 2022. ISBN 978-0063015203. 384 pp. $17.99

***

Merperson Crest is on a coming-of-age journey on land to help a human and earn his return to the sea — if they choose to return after experiencing the wonders of twenty-first century Los Angeles. When Crest, who goes by Ross on land, runs into recently (unceremoniously) dumped Sean, it seems their mission is to help Sean win back his ex, and Crest/Ross becomes a willing participant. Of course, there are rules: no human can find out Crest/Ross’s true nature, and if they return to the sea before the month is up, they will have to remain on land forever. Rules, of course, were made to be broken, amirite?

An accidental reveal at the Hollywood Walk of Fame results in a surprising plot twist that I didn’t see coming–well done on author Jason June, it’s difficult to pull a fast one on someone who has been reading YA romance for 35 years. The writing was a little disappointing overall. Although well-plotted using Sean’s film-making interests and Crest’s time constraints to lay out an agenda, there was a LOT of drama: characters yelling and screaming for emphasis or to TELL us emotion instead of conveying and revealing through action. There was consent in the sexual scenes, but also snapping towels and ass-smacking and a violent outburst from another student.

I’m lumping this into magical realism rather than fantasy, but the worldbuilding for under the water and in the Blue was nicely done, simple and complete. Sometimes the merperson lingo or oceanic references were a little too much, and sometimes, Crest’s/Ross’s dissing of human consumption and environmental concerns struck a didactic note (though I am by no means in disagreement with Crest/Ross’s assessments.

I especially appreciated the diversity of the cast; straight people are the anomaly and like L.A., the book is peopled with real people in all colors, shapes and sizes, and it’s mostly NBFD. I wanted to care more about Crest/Ross and Sean than I did, but the ending definitely tugged at my heartstrings. Like most fake-dating tropes, the characters of course come to care for one another (and are wildly attracted!). When they act on their instincts, it’s developmentally appropriate and safe.

I received an advance reader’s review copy of #OutOfTheBlue via #NetGalley

Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke

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Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke

Radtke, Kristen. Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness. Pantheon, 2021. ISBN 978-1524748067 352 pp. $30

*****

Seek You is a masterful narrative of a lifetime of loneliness that is compared to a kind of condition that goes in and out of remission, and it’s a wonderful metaphor.

Part memoir, part history, Radtke examines loneliness through biology, sociology, psychology, art and pop culture, citing a number of studies, articles and books that document and examine our longing to connect, and why it’s so difficult. The prose is poetic if detached as she details hideous science experiments, gun violence, chat room lechers, depression, and abuse.

About a third of the way through, Radkte likens loneliness to being underwater: the weight of a sinking body, the inability to move with ease, the muted sounds… and the series of drawings that follow are poetic in their composition and pacing, culminating in a wave that washes everything away for the next chapter. It’s quite brilliant and arresting.

Fitting the theme of the book, the palate is predominantly blacks and blues, grey, purple and lavender that even on white backgrounds and with pops of mustard and salmon, feels murky and dark. The colors match the somber tone and steady march of the text.

The book is meticulously documented with a list of citations at the end.

The League of Extraordinarily Funny Women: 50 Trailblazers of Comedy by Sheila Moeschen

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The League of Extraordinarily Funny Women: 50 Trailblazers of Comedy by Sheila Moeschen

Moeschen, Sheila. The League of Extraordinarily Funny Women: 50 Trailblazers of Comedy. Running Press Adult, 2019. ISBN 978-0762466641 232 pp. $20

*****

I just finished binging The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, and have been wondering who she was based on and who her real-life influences were besides Lenny Bruce and Moms Mabley. While neither question is addressed in this collective biography, it was a nice transition from the the show.

Self-proclaimed comedy nerd Sheila Moeschen presents this browseable, humorous and highly readable overview of fifty famous female comics: their start, their breakout roles, their signature jokes, their often! acclaimed and award-winning work, their influences, and for some, their legacy. Ladies are grouped by ten in no particular order in each section: intellectual comics, character comics, controversial comics, misfit comics, and trailblazers. The book showcases Lucille Ball, Phyllis Diller and Moms Mabley; Gilda Radner, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy; Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling and Amy Poehler, among others.

Each section opens with an overview to introduce the category, and includes additional names that couldn’t included with full bios due to limited space. Icons are mixed in with up & comers. The cast of characters is refreshingly diverse by age, location, ethnicity, and sexuality. Best of all, while occasionally partners are identified, most of the bios focus on career only, and the merit of the woman’s achievement.

Moeschen is quick with a quip and funny in her own right, and so are YOU, evidenced by the YOU that is the last person listed in the book under the “Extra Extraordinaires” block that lists even more funny women in the final chapter, and the afterword reiterates to the reader no, really! YOU are funny, too!

No sources are cited, and a short, non-annotated reading list follows. A timeline and index are lacking, and would be helpful to include if there is indeed, a sequel.

The Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak In a Chicago ER by Thomas Fisher

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The Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak In a Chicago ER by Thomas Fisher

Fisher, Thomas. The Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak In a Chicago ER. One World, 2022. ISBN 978059323067 pp. $27

****

ER doc Tom Fisher intersperses his dispatches from a South Side Chicago ER during the pandemic with letters to patients, colleagues and family regarding issues around healthcare in America. A Black doctor who grew up in the community he serves, he uncovers many injustices in the system from inequitable treatment of VIP and uninsured patients to systemic racism to failure of treatment of medical issues that develop into untreated chronic then terminal illnesses.

The narrative is short, engaging and fast-paced with most unfamiliar medical terminology explained in context. The epistolary sections are long, dense, well-cited essays, connected to a real person (or composites) from the previous chapter’s shift narrative.

Dr. Fisher operates from a unique perspective, well-versed in not only medical practice, but also policy. The entire book represents a bleak outlook when his own mother can’t get fast-tracked and is one of the many Black patients sent home undiagnosed and in pain; hopefully, this will have some impact with owners, insurers, investors and other key stakeholders to make real, much-needed change.

I received an advance reader’s review copy of #TheEmergency via #NetGalley.