Book of the Month: Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

Welcome to Book of the Month! The Book of this Month is a historical fiction titled Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell. I know people say awards don't matter (don't believe them by the way) but I still want to start off with  the awards this book has won. It won the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction and the 2021 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. It was named "Novel of the Year" at the Dalkey Literary Awards, was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize, and longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. I say all of these to show that this book is a masterpiece. It's O'Farrell's magnum opus.

Remember how I said here that I didn't want to read about a pandemic or similar stuff this soon. It turns out I lied Lol. Because Hamnet is literally about The Plague. The book, set in the 1580s, is about a young Latin tutor—constantly bullied by his violent father—who falls wildly in love with a weird, remarkable woman older than him. She is known throughout town for her eccentricity and her ability to heal people and to understand plants and potions. She falls in love with the tutor right back and they get married, and settle in Stratford. There, she becomes an extraordinary mother, a force in the life of her husband who recently started a career miles away in London theatre scene, and their three children. Life is just getting stable when their beloved young son succumbs to The Plague. It is a story about love, family, and more importantly, the many ways grief can ravage even the most perfect union. It shows how people react so different to grief. 

A Juneteenth Post: How DEI Initiatives Are Stripping Black People of Dignity and Safety

It was Juneteenth on Monday and as far as I'm concerned, we are celebrating all week long. As I said in a previous post on this blog, these past couple of  years, more than ever, I have learned more and had more conversations about emotional safety, belonging, and vulnerability in the workplace. More importantly, I started to better understand that vulnerability needs to be earned; that you deserve a right to protect yourself if you don’t feel “safe”: and that—this is the biggest—vulnerability without boundaries is NOT vulnerability.

Through these conversations, I found that there are places that just expect Black people to remove our armor without sufficient assurance or commitment to our safety. Let me give an example: person X is the “only Black person” in a room and then all of a sudden, they are deemed the race expert. They expect X to open up at every meeting or during every “tough conversation” about the Black experience or about racism. They want X to share their experience of microaggressions, and prejudice, and racism. But what about if X doesn’t want to be vulnerable? Especially if there is no guarantee of protection when X does share something they don’t want to hear. Forget the fear of reprisal; sometimes, people haven’t earned the right to our mind, thoughts, and opinions. So, to not guarantee any safety, yet expect a Black people to speak for all Black people is just wrong.

Why Silence Can Be Ineffective

When Chimamanda Adichie wrote the masterpiece, "It is Obscene", one line stood out and has stuck with me since then. Okay, more accurately, I recently found it again and posted it on Instagram

"Sometimes, silence makes a lie begin to take on the shimmer of truth."

On Serving and Being a Part of Something Bigger

There was a time I was so particular (I don't want to say obsessed) about serving in my community. I truly believe in service. I believe every single person should be a part of something (or some things) bigger than themselves. Normally, this is work. But work sort of feels like work. In any case, I think that being a part of something bigger than you can bring immeasurable purpose. I also think this is a kind of purpose that is good for the soul. The kind that allows you feel like you have a well-rounded life, you know? In any case, I wanted to serve. I also know that if our community is going to progress, then all of us have to be involved. 

Friday Reflections

 1.) The Netflix show, "Indian Matchmaking", tells women to compromise, but this woman refused to do that. 

2.) Sorry, but Nigerian parents can be UNHINGED. My God. This man sexted his daughter's boyfriend because he wanted to set a trap and catch her in the act. 

3.) I saw this old article about a Christian gay woman who married a man and how she never really became straight, and maybe that was never God's goal. I don't know whether it's right for me to call her gay since that may not be how she still identifies herself. What stood out in the article and what I think more Christians need to emphasize more is the goodness of God and how more than anything else, we are called to be faithful to God.