Growth.

Growth.

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The crazy thing about growth is that it is almost inevitable. There are very few things in life that stay exactly the same from birth till death and most of them aren’t even alive. August it’s the eighth month and I’ve heard that means it’s the month of new beginnings. I’ve seen so many posts about I’m ready to grow, this month is going to be all about growth, growing and glowing, etc.

However, I haven’t seen very many posts about people being ready to be stretched in in unimaginable ways or being uncomfortable for seasons (not just one but for multiple seasons). In your season of growth you may have to let go of some things that you have been holding onto you so that you’ll be able to grow. These are things such as friendships, relationships, outdated goals and even your comfort zone. Holding onto a negative relationship or friendship stunts your growth. You won’t be able to grow in the way that you need to by holding onto what you want – you need both hands to be open to accept this newfound growth.

I think about a flower, if the flower is in a bad environment it won’t bloom. This is the same for you if you’re in a bad environment or surrounded by bad things or people you won’t be able to bloom to your fullest potential . Sure you might grow a little but it’ll never be as much as you could’ve. The conditions have to be just right for that flower to bloom, and even then the little seed is stretched and expanding in ways that were previously unforeseen. You could even think about a little caterpillar in the same way.

I have personally just came out of what I believe to be a tremendous season of growth. Growth seemed cool until I was actually going through it. I’m not gonna lie and say that my season of growth was perfect. I was praying for God to grow me in “tremendous ways,” but when I was actually being stretched and growing – I was low-key miserable. I was upset and I felt like things were not getting better and that my situation was actually getting worse. But as soon as I accepted the fact that this was a type of growing pain, things started to change for me. My outlook on the situation changed immensely. I started looking for things to push me more outside of my comfort zone than I already was. I figured since I’m already out of this box I might as well keep going.

The hardest part was actually realizing that this season of growth was not going to kill me. As much as it hurt, as uncomfortable I was, as unhappy I was – THIS WAS NOT GOING TO KILL ME. I think once I realized that I wasn’t going to die things started to turn around for me. I really had to realize that some of the best things are born of the struggle. And honestly if I had been given them, the first time I even asked for them – I wouldn’t have been appreciative of it. I would have just looked at it just another thing.

Basically to summarize, if you are looking to grow, be prepared for the growing pains that come with them.

Are there some areas in your life that you are looking to grow in?? What are they? Share below in the comments! I would love to hear about them!

XOXO,

– Tanesha Renae

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Book Review: Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones (With Spoilers)

This book takes place between the years of 1979 to 1981 in Atlanta, Georgia. During these two years, more than two dozen children disappeared and were gruesomely murdered. In 1982, Wayne Williams was convicted of killing two adult men and was sentenced to life in prison, however, prosecutors believe that he was responsible for the murders of 23 of the 29 children who went missing and disappeared. Williams, who was 23 years old at the time of the last murder, was never tried or convicted for any of the murders that were attributed to him. All the children who were murdered, or missing were between the ages of 9 to 17.

This story is told through the eyes of 3, fifth-grade students during the times of the Atlanta Child Murders. The book is divided into three parts all told from different perspectives. The first was Tasha, second was Rodney and third was Octavia. Tasha is a young lady, who at the beginning of the story, lived with both of her parents. Suddenly her parents “separated,” and as the murders being to occur in her community, her father moves back into the home. She is the oldest in her family and her family system was very open for communication. Tasha is somewhat of a busy body and is trying to find who she is within the social context of her fifth-grade classroom. Rodney lives with both his parents, but his father is a brute and very stern with him. He’s a very timid and shy – and does not have very many friends. He keeps to himself and begins stealing from the local store, in my opinion, as a way to affirm that he is invisible. Rodney befriends Octavia towards the end of his section of the book, and she has her own chapter. Octavia is a young girl growing up across the street from the “projects.” She lives with her mother, while her father lives in South Carolina as a professor at a university who is remarried. Octavia’s mother works the night shift and leaves Octavia, or “Sweet Pea,” at home alone at night, where she watches the news alone.

What are the most pressing issues in the book? 

I believe that the most pressing issue in this book is not the Atlanta Child Murders, but rather how the community reacts to these murders. I believe that this book put a very interesting spin on these murders. I really think that the way Ms. Jones focuses on these children and their experiences trying to gain acceptance in their worlds, even as a very ominous threat scares everyone.

What principals/characters did you agree or disagree with?

I did not agree with how Rodney’s father treated him. I felt real angry towards that man, and I could not imagine trying to grow and develop under the tyranny that was Rodney’s father. The man was not only harsh, but cruel towards his son. On one hand, I believe that his father was trying to do his best and raise his son to be a “real man,” but I think he could’ve went about it a different manner. I felt like his harsh parenting style did not fit his shy and timid son. I, however, agreed with “Sweat Pea’s” mother sending her to South Carolina. While the murders were not of little girls I think it was appropriate to try and give your daughter a better life. I felt like it was extremely hard for her mother to do, but the right thing to do.

What other things might the author have researched or considered?

I think the author should’ve went more into Octavia’s relationship with Kenny, or provide a little more detail. I would’ve been interested to know how that played out in Octavia’s life, especially since during these times sexual abuse from family members was rather common. Maybe not in a way to take away from the murders, but to just provide a little more context to the complexities that make up her personality.

What worked well for you?

In my opinion, what worked the best was the different forms of storytelling that was throughout the book. I believe that shifting the focus from child to child was important because each child’s perception of the world is different. No child is the same, and she really chose the viewpoint well for each child. For example, Tasha couldn’t be in first person, because she would take over the entire book, and Rodney couldn’t be in first person either, because he doesn’t not say much, but his thoughts are invaluable.

What major themes, motifs, or terms does the book introduce, and how effective are they?

In my opinion, one of the main themes is “a quest for identity and reasoning through experiences.” For the quest for identity I think is very prominent in Tasha’s section because it shows her really trying to fit in with the “in-crowd.” For the second theme, that is shown in Octavia’s section where she is trying to reason through why Rodney was taken, as well as why her mother is sending her away. I believe that these themes were shown very effectively because of the age group of the children they go through these things regardless of the situation they are in.

Another theme could be how the children are all trying to gain acceptance in one way. For example, Tasha is trying to be accepted by her peers Monica and the “in-crowd,” while Rodney would just like to be accepted by his father, and Octavia just trying to not be rejected by her class anymore. I think this theme is very effective because of how this story focuses on their experiences.

Did the book appeal to you on an emotional or logical way?

This book really touched me especially Rodney’s section. I was really in tears when he got in the car as well as when his father was beating him in the classroom. I related to Rodney the most because when I moved from Virginia to Illinois – I completely shut down in fourth grade, I never spoke out of turn, and had no real friends. As an extremely shy kid, growing up, I also felt invisible for the year. It hurt me in a sense because I knew right as his father showed up that it was going to break Rodney’s spirit. Part of me, believes that Rodney wanted to get into the car, but I still want to believe that he was forcibly taken. To me, growing up in non-Black spaces, unlike the children in this book it was really interesting to see the dynamics of their classrooms and contrast their childhoods to my own.

Book Reviews

So in the second week of February, I decided that I wanted to start back reading more. I felt like in college, I don’t get to read as much and it was making me very sad. I grew up reading so much, and then once I hit college I stopped. I missed it so much. Anyways. So here are the review of the five books I have read since starting my book reading challenge on February 9th, and the links to buy them. I personally did not buy all of these books, I rented them from my local library through the OverDrive app via e-books.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova 

So I read this book because I saw the movie trailer and I am one of those people, who if I see a movie trailer based off a book, I have to read the book. I probably won’t go see the movie, because I am picky about movies and this book would have to be done perfectly to work. I also am a psychology major at Hampton University and last semester I took a neurological psychology class, which we spent a good portion of the semester talking about Alzheimer’s Disease. It is about a 50-year old professor at Harvard University: Alice. She is married to another professor at Harvard, and they have grown-up children that are all on separate paths. So in addition to her everyday stressors, and life, she finds out that she has Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. The story is basically about how Alice and her family deal with her new diagnosis and her descent into Alzheimer.  So the book was beautifully written. It starts off in this “highly educated” tone of voice (if that makes sense) of this simplistic language. Which it was very interesting because it is done in a way that you won’t realize it until the end. In my opinion it was done to show Alice’s descent into Alzheimer’s. The author was highly knowledgeable about the subject, and you could tell she did her research on the subject – an extensive amount of research. I truly enjoyed this book, however it is not for the weak hearted. It is not sad, but it is not a super happy book either. I overall loved the book, and I could not stop reading for anything. I seriously enjoyed it. I highly recommend it!

The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen

So if you like historical fiction, or Philippa Gregory Books, or The Tudors This is the book for you. (Alright confession – I copied this from the book of the book, but it is EXTREMELY accurate. I love historical fiction. I never grow tired of it, however I cannot read it whenever. I have to be in the mood to read it. So this book is about what would’ve happened if Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry the VIII had a son, and consequently saving her life and upholding her Queen-ship. The book follows Anne’s son William, Anne’s daughter Elizabeth, Will’s best friend Dominic and Elizabeth’s best friend Minuette, and their lives, and the issues of England, and Will’s Kingship. The book was surprisingly good. I have read books before that try to be like the Gregory book series, but this had its own unique feel to it. This is a truly “What If,” book, every turn and twist in the book was well thought out. I truly enjoyed the book. I don’t want to say too much about the book because I want every one to read it and enjoy it for themselves. The book was very interesting, because it went through each person’s perspective, but not in a choppy way. It transitioned very smooth, showed each event from each of the characters’ mind and what they thought of everything. It was really refreshing, I did not think I would like the book to be honest. However when I started the book, I was instantly wrapped into it, and COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!

Sunday’s at Tiffany’s by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet 

This is a book starts out about a little lonely girl by the name is Jane, and her imaginary friend Michael. Jane’s mother is a very powerful and influential producer, but only has time for her daughter on Sundays, to look at jewelry at Tiffany’s. Michael leaves Jane on her ninth birthday, and she is supposed to forget him and then the book transitions into her adulthood life. Then Jane just happens to run into Michael later in life and things unfold thus far. The book is to me, balances between real life and imagination. Now this book is simple read, but there has a lot background information so that you can really get to know each character individually. While this is not one of my favorite James Patterson book, it was well written and a quick read. The structure was interesting, alternating between Jane and Micheal’s point of view. It is a cute little love story that has some very intense twists at the end to keep you guessing. I recommend this book to anyone who is trying to get back into reading, or wants to transition from young adult books to “adult” fiction.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

This book was completely out of my comfort zone as far as books go. The book is about Samantha, who dies, and then gets a second chance at life. Then keeps re-living the last day of her life. Each time she re-lives her life, she uncovers something new about her death, as well as altering the ways in which she dies a few times. This book was very well put together. It places you right inside of the head of a popular girl’s head, and every emotion you feel as well, even Samantha’s frustration as she keeps re-living her life. The book didn’t feel trite, or receptive as someone would think with the reliving of the life of Samantha. I personally felt like the book had a very good unexpected ending, and ended with me feeling very content with how everything turned out in Samantha’s life. I don’t know how exactly how to explain it, but it is a written, thought-provoking book.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand.

I have just finished reading this book. The book just came out last month (which I just found out). It was recommended to me through the overdrive app based on Before I Fall. It is really good. The book was incredibly sad, but heartwarming and distinct. The book follows a girl named Alexis, or Lex, a senior in high school right after her younger brother, Tyler, commits suicide. The book highlights how Lex deals with the death of her brother, and her life after, in addition to her parents’ divorce, high school BS, and more. This book really touched me. While I have never known anyone to commit suicide, it seriously hurts me when people die. I am very sensitive. Anyways. I thought the book was sad but had a happy ending, even if it wasn’t what I expected. I loved how at the end of the book, the author tied the entire thing together and it all clicked. All the pieces of the puzzle are solved within the last two chapters, which resolved a lot of my unanswered questions. The book definitely touches on a lot of subjects, but in a good way to somewhat expose you to the emotions that a person goes through when a loved one takes their life. Overall, great read, it may take you a few days to read because it is overwhelming emotionally, but in a good way. (Fun Fact: I started putting together this review, and then saved it to be posted and about an hour later I finished this book! How Cool!)

I am always looking for new things to read, not just to review, but I love books and reading! So What are some of your favorite books, be sure to comment below and let me know! I would love to hear them!

Keep It Classy, 

T.Renae