Friday, June 14, 2019

Book Review: Under Water by Jessie Wilson

Book Title: Under Water
Book Author: Jessie Wilson
Format: Paper Back
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐⭐)

When was the last time you read a book that forced you to greedily devour it? For me, the answer is this week. Today, I finished Under Water by Jessie Wilson, and this book was amazing.

Under Water is a thrilling novel that engulfed me until the very end. Throughout this text, the main character struggles with navigating teenage life, including academics and social engagement. She has an awful time with math. Her engagement with her peers is awkward. She has no friends. An incident in her childhood taught her the valuable cost of making friends.

My heart ached for the main character for so many reasons. The narrator had no real place of solace, not with her father, mother,  brother nor with her peers. Her peace and contentment were derived from reading a book. When she read, she could escape her troubles. She was a true bibliophile. She craved a mother or mother figure. She desperately desired to leave the grasp of her father's abuse and power.

Dealing with a narcissistic father, who abused her psychologically, physically, mentally, and even financially, the narrator's transition to a new school at the demands of her older brother Cal gave me new hope for her future. Wilson's illustration of how a person victim feels powerless and hopeless, even when they are not in direct contact with their abuser, is amazingly portrayed in this narrative.

The irony of the narrator living on a boat and being the doctor of a fisherman turned smuggler and being aquaphobic is just one example of how well-written Under Water is.

Wilson uses an educator as the "savior" for the narrator. I liked how Wilson conclusively demonstrates the significance that a teacher or coach can unknowingly have in a student's life. Even though I was upset that the narrator was forced to conquer her fear of water and to become a swimmer, I ultimately appreciated how these actions contributed to changing the trajectory of her entire life.

Also, I enjoyed how Wilson highlighted the cringe-worthy victim-blaming culture of other women through the character, Kelly, the narrator's roommate. Kelly turned into a protagonist like a narrator's father, quickly.

Ultimately, I loved the ending of Under Water. The complexity of this book definitely intrigued me. I highly recommend this YA book. You will not be disappointed.

Trigger Warning: This book includes references to domestic violence, sexual abuse, rape, and child abuse. 
If you or someone you know are dealing with domestic violence or sexual abuse, here are two hotlines that can assist you. The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). The National Sexual Assault Hotline number is 1-800-656 HOPE (4673).

About Under Water

For the daughter of a fisherman-turned-smuggler, keeping secrets equals survival. When she is sent away from their boat-home for one year to a nearby boarding school, it’s with her father's threat hanging over her head: You talk about things that shouldn’t be talked about, I’ll kill you. But a boarding school with a student body of eight is a perilous place to be when you have a headful of secrets, particularly with a headmaster who seems to be able to read minds. When the headmaster discovers the aquaphobia born out of her fearful childhood, he compels her to join the school swim team, headed by a tough coach who has his own dark history with the water. As she sheds her fear and discovers a hidden talent for distance swimming, she crafts a plan to escape the boat she’s doomed to return to at the end of the school year. But when her plans begin to unravel, she finds something sinister that has stood between her and escape all along: the secrets she’s kept from herself.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Book Review: Perfect City by Joe Berridge

Book Title: Perfect City
Book Author: Joe Berridge
Format: PDF File
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐)

In The Perfect City, Joe Berridge provides a vivid description of his journey as an "urban fixer." Throughout the introductory chapter, Berridge presents the case of the city and the city planner in terms of a machine and a mechanic. This unique metaphor sets the tone for the rest of the text. In my opinion, Berridge wants the reader to recognize how the city planners work as a mechanic to fine-tune the intricacies and workings of a city. 

I was intrigued by Perfect City because my doctoral program, Public Policy, and Administration, works closely with the Urban and Regional Planning Program at Jackson State University. Many of my friends and colleagues are trained urban planners, so I was curious as to how Perfect City would inform me about the discipline. Surprisingly, this text does not read like an academic textbook, but it flows like an autobiography that has embedded within the lines, which can be used in the urban planning classroom. Several chapters are dedicated to individual cities, which Berridge uses to highlight pertinent information that can be used in transforming cities into models of urban perfection.

Berridge did an excellent job of detailing how cities can grow and improve while providing examples of how cities are hindering their transformation. I believe that everyone would enjoy Perfect City, especially residents in urban areas. Individuals who work in urban areas or who are urban planners would enjoy this text, which can be used as a guidebook to improve urban communities.

Let me know if you order the text. I would love to learn your thoughts on Perfect City.

About the Book

There is no such thing as a perfect city, but all great cities have moments of perfection — perfect streets or buildings, perfect places to raise a family or to relax with a coffee — and all strive for perfection when they undertake grand civic projects revitalizing their downtowns or waterfronts, or building innovation hubs, airports, and arenas, or reforming their governance systems, or integrating streams of new immigrants. Cities, more than ever, are the engines of our economies and the ecosystems in which our lives play out, which makes questions about the perfectibility of urban life all the more urgent. Joe Berridge, one of the world’s leading urban planners, takes us on an insider’s tour of some of the world’s largest and most diverse cities, from New York to London, Shanghai to Singapore, Toronto to Sydney, Manchester to Belfast, to scrutinize what is working and what is not, what is promising and what needs to be fixed in the contemporary megalopolis. We meet the people, politicians, and thinkers at the cutting edge of global city making, and share their struggles and successes as they balance the competing priorities of growing their economies, upgrading the urban machinery that keeps a city humming, and protecting, serving, and delighting their citizens. We visit a succession of great urban innovations, stop to eat in many of Joe’s favorite places, and leave with a startling view of the magical urban future that awaits us all.

About the Author

Joe Berridge, a partner at Urban Strategies, is an urban planner and city builder who has had an integral role in the development of complex urban planning and regeneration projects in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Europe and Asia. He has been strategic advisor for the development of the city centres of Manchester, Belfast and Cardiff and for the waterfronts of Toronto, Singapore, Sydney, Cork, London and Governors Island in New York City. He has prepared campus master plans for the Universities of Manchester, Waterloo, Queen’s and Western and is now advising on the new hub for Toronto Pearson International Airport. Joe teaches at the University of Toronto and is a Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.

Quote of the Day - Nikki Giovanni

Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the error that counts.  
-Nikki Giovanni
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