African American Authors, Books

Year of Yes

Author: Shonda Rhimes

My Take:

I can relate to the shy, introverted socially awkward version of Shonda Rhimes. I can’t yet relate to the wildly successful version of Shonda, but I pray that part of me will show itself soon.

“Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.”

This is a lesson I’m trying to incorporate into my daily life. Sometimes you just have to be open to new experiences and allow yourself to be vulnerable, and I think that’s the message Rhimes was trying to get across in this book.

We can’t let insecurities and unfounded fears hold us back. Life is not easy – that’s a given. We all have, or had something keeping us from achieving our best life. It’s time to let it go and live! Rhimes’ commitment to saying “Yes” was her doing just that.

Try new things, celebrate yourself and move out of your comfort zone. Year of Yes shows us that sometimes you have to get rid of those people and things that no longer serve our better good. The stories shared in this book are candid and funny, and absolutely relatable. Rhimes shares her experiences with us because it helped her and hopefully it can help us live our best lives too.


The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

20170211_183318Author: Ayana Mathis

My Take:

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie takes us through the lives of Hattie, her husband, their 11 children and later on, her granddaughter. Hattie is a woman of few words. She is strong-willed and “mean as the dickens”, as her children would say. She’s strong because she has no other choice. Of course, she loves her children but tenderness and affection wasn’t something she dished out often, if ever.  Hattie has 11 children-two of which she had to bury when she was a young mother and that’s a pain that never left her.

Hattie’s own mother brought them to the north to move away from certain troubles plaguing the south, only to find that life in the north didn’t always mean a trouble-free existence.

Although Hattie is a cold woman, you can’t help but feel sad for her. She is deeply unhappy with the life she leads and spends her days doing her best to keep her nine living children dressed, fed, and with a roof over their heads. Her husband contributes to her unhappiness so much that she refers to him as her “ruin”.  Every character in the book is fighting their own demons and you see them struggle to make sense of what their lives have become. Author Ayana Mathis does a phenomenal job of developing each of these characters individually so that you’re drawn into their separate worlds.

I think a lot of readers will be able to relate to Hattie having to put on a brave front even if she’s falling apart on the inside. She’s so hard on her children and husband, especially, because she wants more for their lives and she wants her husband to want that too, or at least not hinder her from making that happen. The resentment that grows between them can definitely be felt.

At the end of the book you’re left hoping that everyone ends up finding their way. The story and the writing, in my opinion, were thoughtfully crafted and I hope you get a chance to read it.

If you have already read it, I’d love to hear what you thought of it. Share in the comments.