Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Daydreams by Tonish Jones

Crack addicted mothers, abusive fathers, and cheating boyfriends are paired with money, recognition, and fame in Tonish Jones’s debut novel Daydreams (2008). Daydre Collins would have ended up in foster care if it was not for one loving grandmother. Fortunately, she has managed to go off to Berkley College of Music in Boston and major in music engineering. When she first enters her dorm, she meets the beautiful and stylish Monica who immediately embracers her and becomes a lifelong friend. Daydre supports herself by working on campus and anonymously writing songs for major recording artists. Upon graduation, Daydre works as a receptionist at a record label where she continues to secretly write songs. The story takes many twists as Daydre enters the dating world, makes new friends, and her true identity is revealed.

I first picked up Daydreams because it was described as an “urban Cinderella story” and I quickly found myself unable to put it down. There are not any slow parts that drag the reader on. In fact, some of the plot seems a bit too rushed. An example of this is when Daydre first sings on an album. First, Daydre is recording in the studio. This is immediately followed by an interrogation and her secret being let out. All of this literally happens within sentences. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; I just wanted a little more time with Jones’s characters. This short 76 page novel could be easily pulled out to a 300+ page book. Another small complaint I had with the novel were the rote character descriptions. Almost all characters are introduced with a height measurement and skin color. However, the actual characters are well developed. It’s easy to get attached and start loving her characters (or hating a few of them).

I would strongly recommend this book. Daydreams is very inspiring tale for young women trying to make a name for themselves. It shows that no matter how negative things may seem right now, we can attain our goals and dreams through hard work. While some of the subject matter is somewhat provocative, Jones does not resort to meaningless profanity on each page. Overall, Daydreams is a great and fast read. I hope Tonisha Jones goes on to write more novels.

You can pick up a copy at the online bookstore:

I received a complimentary copy of Daydreams as a member of the Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team. Visit to learn how you can become a member of the Book Review Team.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Laughter--An African Paradox by Enoch Christopher Osei Tutu

During my junior year in college, I became very interested in African history and current issues. Hence, Enoch Christopher Osei Tutu’s Laughter—An African Paradox (2010) caught my attention. This slim book takes the form of a theatrical dialogue in which two ordinary African village folk discuss the present state of Africa. Although the issues—mainly leadership, marriage, and environmental destruction—they discuss are serious, their mannerisms are quite humorous.

A few pages into the book, I began to see a strong resemblance to Waiting for Godot. For those not familiar with this play, Godot is a comical play by Samuel Beckett’s in which two homeless men, Vladimir and Estragon wait for someone named Godot. Critics often describe Godot as the play in which nothing happens because it purposely lacks a plot. Tutu’s work is somewhat similar to this. The main characters, Merry and Brainy remain seated on two benches while several visitors pass by and enter into their conversation. The reader learns that its 9 a.m. when the play opens and evening when it ends. There is no explanation as to why the two men are there. This characteristic really made me enjoy the book. It’s as if Tutu picks up the audience and drops them in the midst of two average African’s lives.

Just to note, there are several other similar motifs between Laughter and Godot. A tree plays an important role in each. Laughter opens and ends with Brainy and Merry scampering up a tree to avoid some “danger,” while Vladimir and Estragon are seated under a tree that seems to magically grow and lose its leaves. Both sets of characters are waiting for something: Godot and the Whistleblower respectively. Since Godot is one of my absolute favorite plays, I was excited to see these similarities.

Tutu’s purpose for writing Laughter is to bring attention to the controversial issues facing Africans by employing comedy. Very early on, Tutu tries to correct the misconception that Africa is one unified place. When asked to describe Africa in one word, Merry replies, “Sorry, I cannot give you one word that best describes the whole of Africa” (5). I think that when most people consider Africa, they believe it is one completely unified place. Moreover, it is not uncommon to hear someone refer to Africa as a state opposed to a continent.

It’s impossible to give a rundown of all the issues that Tutu addresses. Much of the play consists of Brainy asking questions and Merry responding. Therefore, many issues are quickly brought up. For example, Tutu attributes Africa’s problems with poor leadership. He tackles the problem of environmental destruction and the desertification of Africa. After reflecting back, the issue that stands out most to me is same-sex marriage. While Merry is faithfully married, Brainy seems repeatedly commits adultery with almost every woman in their village. However, both characters are strongly against same sex marriage. Perhaps this just stood out to me because I personally support gay marriage.

I would definitely recommend Tutu’s Laughter—An African Paradox. There are so many great parts too it. I would have to say his environmental arguments are my favorite. While the book is physically thin, it manages to touch on a tremendous number of issues. You can easily finish the play in one quick sitting, but its messages will remain in your mind for quite some time. Tutu deserves quite a bit of praise for this book.

You can pick up a copy at the online bookstore:

I received a complimentary copy of Laughter—An African Paradox as a member of the Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team. Visit to learn how you can become a member of the Book Review Team.

A Girl’s Guide to Life by Katie Meier

Katie Meier’s a Girl’s Guide to Life teaches young Christian girls how to become safe and happy teenagers and young women. The book is divided into three sections: Mind, Body and Soul. Not only does Meier tackle the expected subjects of self-esteem, peer pressure, and dating, but she also addresses other issues, such as sex, sexuality, dieting, fashion, and online activity, that affect young girls as they transition into teenagers.

I have to confess, I’m not a young girl or teenager; but, the book would have answered many of the questions I had growing up. The layout of Meier’s book (quizzes, fill-in charts, squiggley-line borders, and a nice lavender purple font) makes the book physically appealing. More important, is Meier’s content. Although the book is geared toward Christians, religion does not overwhelm the reader. Yes, she does provide biblical support for her arguments, but a non-Christian could easily enjoy her book. Because much of the book is concerned with dating, I suspect some strict Christian families may oppose it. Personally, the only complaint I have about the book concerns the age group Meier is honestly addressing. Some of her language seems like it is written for first graders. For example, she warns readers that “if they call a hotline, they will have to speak to a grown-up.” I’m pretty sure, most readers will know this. Nevertheless, I would recommend this book to young girls.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”