Hair Love (2019)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Hair Love (2019) from Sony Pictures Animation
Rated G. Animated, African American, Family Film
Academy Award: Best Animated Short Film

My thoughts: It’s simple really, but a lot—and plenty relatable for so many of us. It’s an Oscar-winning short family film about a father facing the daunting task of doing his daughter’s hair. But the story is more than that, of course.

Refreshing and clever, amusing and adorable, touching and real, this picture is. It’s no small feat for a film to manage to be everything in fewer than seven minutes.

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Haven’t seen Hair Love yet? Take a look!

 

Crystal by Walter Dean Myers

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Book cover image courtesy of FictionDB.com

Crystal by Walter Dean Myers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“Modeling is a tough racket. You have to put up with a lot of garbage. You’re earning this money.”

Crystal is at the beginning of a glamorous modeling career in New York City. But what begins as an exciting experience for the sixteen-year-old becomes more than she bargained for in Crystal by author Walter Dean Myers.

I first read this YA novel back in my adolescence. Although the latest edition I read this time may have more than one detail updated from the edition I read decades ago, I can still see why the story painted such an accessible picture for me back then. It says enough, and ultimately hits pretty hard, without spelling everything out.

Yes, this is a story about the entertainment industry, modeling intersecting with television and movies, but of course, the importance is in Crystal’s journey of self-discovery. And what I understand more this time around is an aspect of the pressure of Crystal’s opportunity where her parents are concerned. Now, there were places where I didn’t get the best sense of Crystal’s personality, and this isn’t a sparkling tale with a happy-go-lucky ending, but it’s a compelling one.

This may be the only novel I read by this late author back in the day, but I plan on trying at least a little more of his work.

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Note to my blog readers: this novel contains some sensual material related to modeling and show business, although the content isn’t too explicit.

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A copy of the 1989 mass market paperback edition pictured above was the first one I read. I prefer that cover because sometimes characters in the story think Crystal is mixed, or that she’s something other than Black, which adds its own nuance to the racial aspect of the story.
The 2002 edition pictured below is the one I read this time.

 

Sing Down the Moon by Scott O’Dell

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Sing Down the Moon by Scott O’Dell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

When a teenaged Navajo girl is interrupted by Spanish slavers one day while she’s shepherding sheep, it’s only the beginning of a marked change in life for her and her people in Sing Down the Moon by author Scott O’Dell.

I remember listening to the reading of another book by this author, Island of the Blue Dolphins, back when I was eleven or so in school. I was vaguely interested at the time, listening with one ear, but this author’s writing style wasn’t my thing back then.

And I’ll admit I didn’t get far the first time I tried this book some months (or a year?) ago. With the heroine’s fear of being struck down by the gods if she ever displayed too much happiness, and her early mention about once seeing her long-dead grandfather walking around on a snowy night, my openly happy self who isn’t into seeing dead relatives figured I’d have to be in a different frame of mind to give the book another try sometime.

I’m glad I gave it another try.

I likely would have thought this children’s book was boring when I was a child, but now I can appreciate this kind of understated read that has unassuming beauty and muted but strong emotion. The joy resonated with me, and I could also feel the grief and shame caused by unjust treatment and tragedy affecting the young and old in this story. I was engrossed, needing to see what would become of this heroine, and the simplicity, warmth, relief, and triumph of her last four words in the book…just wow.

I remembered some important parts of American history, I learned a little more, and this historical fiction devotee may even try Island of the Blue Dolphins again in the future.

 

You Have the Right to Remain Innocent by James Duane

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

You Have the Right to Remain Innocent by James Duane

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Even if you are completely innocent of a crime or wrongdoing and have nothing to hide, it can be easy (much easier than you probably think) to incriminate yourself when questioned by law enforcement in the United States, especially when a situation arises without warning. American citizens’ Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights exist for important reasons, and knowing just how to exercise those rights without intentionally or unintentionally waiving them is crucial, as author and law professor James Duane illustrates in You Have the Right to Remain Innocent.

This is a fairly short but informative book about why and how to protect oneself in the face/midst of a criminal justice system where, unfortunately, even the innocent can be proven guilty.

Now, the book’s information could have been better organized. The author’s practical advice is scattered through the book without section headings or something that would make for easier reference. It would have been helpful if, after going on about legal case histories, the system’s flaws, and what citizens should not do when questioned by law enforcement, the author had ended the book with a concise summary of his advice, reiterating exactly what to do step by step, along with what one should expect after respectfully declaring, “I want a lawyer.”

Nevertheless, this book should be eye-opening for many everyday citizens and can serve as a foundation for understanding the critical constitutional rights in question.