A blog about travel, books and navigating your twenties in one piece

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Recently I'm Reading // Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

The first book I ever read by Jodi Picoult was Nineteen Minutes. Nineteen Minutes is about a school shooting and it remains one of the most incredible books I've ever read. Since then I've read ten more books by Jodi Picoult and, most recently, Small Great Things, which is published in the UK today. What I've learnt in reading books by Jodi Picoult which discuss issues from rape to cancer to sexuality and more is that she is not someone who is afraid to shy away from talking about sensitive subjects. More than that, I don't think I've ever come across an author of fiction who researches more into their books than her. The effort she puts in to ensure that whatever she's writing about is as accurately portrayed as it can be shines through her every story and she will always be a huge inspiration to me. So, having read a number of her books, I need you to trust me when I tell you that you must pick up Small Great Things if you can.

Small Great Things is about an African-American midwife called Ruth. The blurb is as follows:

"When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.

What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.

Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.

It is about opening your eyes."

I was lucky enough to be given a proof copy of this book when I was on a work placement at Hodder & Stoughton and I am so grateful to have been able to read it. It's the best book that I've read this year.

This book addresses modern day racism and race relations in a way that I have not encountered before. It is clever and brilliant and utterly harrowing to see for yourself in the form of this story the way in which we still have so far to go when it comes to racial discrimination and prejudice. My words won't do justice to this story so I'm going to keep this post brief but all I can say is that this book has never been more needed, especially now that Donald Trump has been elected as the next President of the United States.

If you don't think that a white woman can write from the perspective of an African-American, I implore you to pick this up and see for yourself. If nothing else, read Picoult's beautiful author's note in Small Great Things and you will see how important it was that she write this book as a white woman because it is us as white people who need to address the prejudice that remains prevalent in our societies.

Real Reader Review have called Small Great Things "To Kill a Mockingbird for the 21st Century" and I don't think I could sum it up better myself. This is an amazing book that will give every single one of us who picks it up an education.

You can order Small Great Things here. And a quick thank you to the lovely Ellie for taking the photo in this blog post!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Five Things on Netflix You *Need* to Watch This Weekend

Happy Friday everyone! I've had a super productive week and for the first time this term am feeling fairly on top of things so this weekend I'm going to make the most of that and actually take a day to do all the fun things. Ellie and I are going for lunch and shopping tomorrow and it's been so long since I've been into Exeter's town centre or caught up properly with Ellie so I can't wait!

I then plan on cosying up to watch Strictly Come Dancing and hopefully fit in some serious Netflix watching before Sunday comes and I have to go back to doing proper uni work. So to keep things a bit light after last week, to get myself in the spirit and just in case you're in need of some good old Netflix recommendations today I thought I'd share five things on Netflix at the moment that you definitely need to watch...

1 // Gilmore Girls - Ok so let's talk about Gilmore Girls and how it's one of the best. shows. ever. I'm only on series four and am desperately trying to get through it before the special 'A Year in the Life' reunion that's coming out at the end of this month, but I can honestly say it's one of the most feel-good shows I've watched in the longest time. The mother-daughter dynamic of Lorelei and Rory is brilliant and this show just gives me all of the warm feelings so if you haven't watched it yet you absolutely *must*, take my word for it and you can thank me later!

2 // Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging - They only put this on Netflix over the last couple of months and I don't think I can sum up the excitement I felt when I saw it in the 'Recently Added' section. This film was everything when I was in my early teens and I've been desperate to watch it for weeks now. It's one of those that you can watch again and again and again and it won't get old because, let's be honest, we can all relate to Georgia Nicholson and the endless embarrassing moments she has at the god-awful age of fourteen.

3 // The Crown - This is kind of a strange one for me to be recommending since I haven't actually seen it yet because of all the Gilmore Girls binging I've been doing in an awful attempt to finish it by the end of this month. Hear me out though. I've been hearing about this series for months now and it may be a bit too early for me to say this but I'm so sure that I'm going to love it. It's all about our very own Queen Elizabeth II's reign in the twentieth century and A. I'm obsessed with period dramas B. I love the royal family and C. It has Claire Foy and Matt Smith starring in it so there's no way I won't love it and I bet you will too!

4 // Shark Tale - One of my favourite films from my childhood, I still remember going to see it with my big sister in the cinema, Shark Tale is such a great movie. It's funny, has a great storyline and stars Will Smith, what's not to like?!

5 // Home Alone - I couldn't make a list of Netflix recommendations in mid-November and not include at least one Christmas film. Some of you might say it's too early, and I'd usually be right there agreeing with you but this year I'm feeling super Christmassy already and Home Alone has to be one of the best Christmas films there is. If you're feeling at all in the Christmas spirit yourself give this a watch right away!

And there you have it! Before I sign off I just want to give a quick shout out to the beautiful Twitter thread started by Katie Brennan, #TodayImGrateful. It's been giving me the biggest boost of positivity all week seeing the little things that are making people happy and I'd really recommend taking a look if you have a minute - it's so important to remember the good stuff when things going on in the world seem pretty bleak.

I hope you all have the most cosy and relaxing weekends - I'm probably watching another episode of Girlmore Girls as we speak!

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Oh 2016, what have you done? | The US Election & Hope in the Face of It

I don't know how to begin writing about the US presidential election result. But I'm going to try to because in times like these there is nothing more important than not allowing hate to divide or weaken us. Needless to say I am absolutely heartbroken. No, I am not a citizen of the United States and Donald Trump will not be my President. But, no matter what Theresa May might say to this, I am a citizen of the world and that world feels pretty broken right about now. And that leaves me heartbroken.

I have been so privileged in my nineteen years of existence to grow up in a society that has been largely progressive, liberal and accepting. In my short lifetime I have been witness to gay marriage being legalised, the first African American president of the US being elected and UN campaigns such as HeForShe and the Global Goals fighting for equality and promoting opportunity for all to name just a few great and progressive things that have occurred over the past two decades.

Yes, there has of course nonetheless been inequality and hate and injustice taking place all over the world during that time. But, in studying the history of the past two centuries, it has always seemed to me that there is no doubt that Europe and the United States of America have been on the path to progression. Step by step and no matter how long it takes, I have believed that we will get there - that the journey we are on will only be forward, because, surely by now we have learnt that this is the right thing. That blaming and shunning minorities will get us nowhere. That hate will unquestionably lead us to darkness.

And yet this year we seem to have veered off the path I was so sure we were set on as liberal, progressive nations. Instead of going forward we have taken many steps back. A nation that claims to be the land of the free has gone from electing the first African American as their president to electing one who is undeniably racist, misogynistic and hateful. My own nation has decided to leave an international organisation on grounds of the belief that our own Prime Minister stated to consider oneself a citizen of the world is to be a citizen of nowhere.

I am so full of sadness at this. I simply cannot comprehend that we haven't learnt from our past mistakes that oppression and hate masking itself as nationalism achieves nothing but destruction. I suppose as a history student I should have clocked on by now that human nature is cyclical and that it takes us an incredibly long time to achieve true progress. I know that things will be ok and I do believe that we will continue to move forward, no matter how long it takes. But that does not negate the heaviness in my heart right now.

For now I choose to take comfort despite that heaviness in my heart in the fact that so many people feel the same as me. That we are not alone in wanting to fight for progress, for acceptance and for love. And that I will not give up hope on us finding that path again towards growth and taking those wonderful and vital steps forward that humanity can achieve when it comes together with the right intentions.

If you feel as I do about all of what has taken place over the past few months I'm just going to leave this video here. John Green once again sums up what I feel better than I ever could have done.
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