Happy New Year, Everyone!
I'm back and settling nicely into a different office space which is a partial explanation about why I was thin on postings before the holiday break.
But time off means reading a few books that have been on my list for a while.
The one book I read and adored is Open Mic: Riffs On Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices edited by Mitali Perkins.
Typically, I'm not drawn to collections of short stories or essays but I'm glad I snagged this one.
These 10 authors (some I know, others I was introduced to here) include David Yoo, Gene Luen Yang, Cherry Cheva, Debbie Rigaud, Mitali Perkins, Varian Johnson, Olugemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, G. Neri, Francisco X. Stork and Naomi Shihab Nye. Together they give us insights into the life of people living in socio-culturally complex situations. Editor Mitali Perkins feels that using humour can ease the tensions that often occur when people talk about race issues.
Humour has the power to break down barriers and draw us together across borders. Once you've shared a laugh with someone, it’s almost impossible to see them as ‘other’. (p.x)
A few of these entries are funny like David Yoo’s Becoming Henry Lee. It reminded me of Jordan Sonnenblick’s Zen and the Art of Faking It. In both of these stories we have Asian protagonists who take on stereotypical traits to become better accepted by non-Asian peers. Both boys eventually learn that being themselves is the better way to go; it just might take a bit to out who they really are.
A few of the entries are really poignant. I particularly loved Brotherly Love by Francisco X. Stork. It’s about love and acceptance within family. Or Voila by Debbie Riguad where cultural ‘clashes’ are more like ‘bumps’.
A few of the stories are just slices of life where cultural issues may just be another thing to deal with. Take Mitali Perkins own story about learning about boys, dating and traditional Indian parents.
All the stories are a pleasure to read.
I would recommend Open Mic for grades 10 and up.