Review From User :
Yet another perfect book - yet another review overdue.
I have been sitting with this one for maybe a half a year, no kidding. It's just hard to write a review for a book that moved me SO much... But I'm going to try.
5 Reasons To Read All Day: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island - you can read the full review with formatting on my blog here.
First of all, this is real. This is not fiction. And this is a topic that needs to be talked about. A young artist tries to find a temporary job teaching, to make ends meet. And ends up working one of the most meaningful jobs in her life. Which is teaching incarcerated kids - some of them with no future, trapped by a past that wasn't really their doing. The book explores the problems with our society such as racism, the inherent lack of love towards those less fortunate and our complete inability to bring up members of society in a rational way - planning for numbers of jail cells to be taken, rather than school desks and exam papers.
Reason #1. This Is A Topic Nobody Wants To Talk About
And indeed it should be talked about all the more. Now, I don't even live in the US! In fact, there are barely any black people in my country historically. Yet, racism is very relevant to me. How relevant should it be to you then, if you live in the US This book broke my heart - from the media or movies, one could never guess how deeply ingrained racism is in some parts of America. If you still don't know - read this. Read this and find out how people are divided into two groups, and I don't just mean black and white - I mostly mean "poor" and "worth attention". Because if you come from humble backgrounds, you will be treated so very differently than everyone else. The American Dream isn't for everyone. It's only for the right kind of Americans. I don't want to talk about this in detail, as I've read this a while ago, but Liza Jessie Peterson has enough facts and they're all reasonable. It's painful to think a black kid can land in jail by merely shouting at someone. Teenagers shout, okay They do that. All of them do that. It's scary to think that would land someone in jail!
Reason #2. You Will Cry
Crying at fiction is alright. But crying at reality facts is more than alright - it's right. Because it's better to know than to remain ignorant. I felt very deeply for the fates of some of the people talked about in this book, some of those children. Granted, some of them were at fault. But some were not. Some will never be given a second chance.
Reason #3. It's Measured And Honest And Doesn't Hate On Anyone
If you think that this book blindly defends people of color against whites, then you're wrong. Liza Jessie Peterson writes very soberly, and she never sugarcoats anything. She will give you the truth, at least how she saw it. A lot of the kids she talks about did misbehave, and she will give you her honest opinion about them being little ****ers, and that it's their own fault. This is the magic of this book. It does not label. It just gives you the story, the way it was.
Reason #4. This Woman's Got Soul!
I've never met an archetypal strong black woman in my life (that's basically cause I haven't met a single black woman! xD), but I know now that that's the way I'll imagine one, for the rest of my life, probably. Since this is a memoir, we get to see and learn a lot about Liza's character - and you just can't help falling in love with her personality! She is soulful and strong, she's got this immense love for her culture and roots, she won't let anyone step on her, and yet she is loving towards these teens in the way they will need the most - hard love. Strong love that doesn't let them get what they want. It gives them what they need. This book has inspired the biggest kind of respect for the author in my heart. I believe you will feel the same.
Reason #5. Despite The Hardship, The Book Is Very Inspiring
I run out of words to explain. Can you just take my word on this This book was so good, and it's worth much more than just 5 stars. It's definitely worth your time and attention. I'll even go this far. It could serve as a nonfiction companion to these greatly appreciated fiction books:
I thank Center Street and Liza Jessie Peterson for giving me a copy of the book in exchange to my honest opinion.
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Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.