Book Reviews

We Use To Be Friends

We Used To Be Friends is a story about two best friends, Kat and James who start to drift
apart. It’s a story told from a dual point of views and a converging timeline.
I’ve gone through multiple friendship break-ups in my life as I’m sure the rest of you would
have and yet the media keeps glorifying romantic break-ups and turning a blind eye to
friendships. This is why I was so excited to hear the premise of this book. There’s no
sugar-coating this one, the title says it all. People change and friendships run their course
and I found that We Used To Be Friends explored this aspect beautifully. Kat and James
are total opposites and we get a glimpse into both their lives and the circumstances which
lead to their break-up. At its core this book is about friendship. Through Kat and James we
can see how much friendships means and the ways in which good friends can carry you
through life. We go through the frustrating part of trying to figure out the rules of friendships
and making new friends along with the negative feelings like frustration and jealousy that
come into play. Sometimes friendships don’t work out no matter how hard we try and no
matter how bad we want to stick to our old friends. Sometimes we just have to let go.

Another great aspect that was explored is how often romance takes the front-seat and
friends are pushed back. I hate when characters desert their friends for romance and then
go running back whenever something disastrous happens in their romantic life, taking
friendship for granted. Spalding explores that with Kat and James and I’m infinitely grateful
to see that portrayal. It’s simply amazing how the author was able to encompass such a
wide array of aspects of friendship in such a way that every single person can see their
friendships reflected in this book. This is one book I feel that I won’t mind reading over and
over, just to remind myself the importance of friendships and letting go when things turn
toxic.

Book Reviews

The Subtweet

“Unlike many artists, she had never considered herself a mere vessel for the muse, or a
medium, or even a parent. Her songs weren’t her “babies”. Her songs were her.”
The Subtweet is a book that really touched my heart. It spins a beautiful narrative of
friendships, trust, brown women and music that simply pulls you in. The writing is so
fluid and easy to follow that it took every ounce of my will power to put this book down
even for a second. Vivek Shraya’s writing is so powerful, I can almost feel the music
radiating off the pages in waves.
The story is told by Neela who is closed off, wary of the world and somewhat of a
perfectionist, as well as Rukmini who is bold, experimental, tech-savvy and a friendly
personality in general. Both of them formed such an uncanny duo but one I was
immediately rooting was. It was beautiful to watch their friendship flourish despite the
unbalanced dynamics with Rukmini seeking Neela’s respect as an artist and Neela
feeling that the world appreciated her art only in Rukmini’s hands.
“What was it about whiteness that seemed to elicit an infinite spring of faith and second
chances?”

I feel that everything in this book hit me to my core and reflected aspects of our lives,
especially my life as a brown woman more than I ever expected it to. It really made me
reflect over music and ownership as well as relationships in life. This book raises so
many important questions revolving around the topics of artists and music and brown
people leaning into their ethnicity or appeasing white-people; it all left my mind reeling.
I think in certain parts the narrative was a mess of thoughts but I really and truly loved
that the most. If you’re someone who appreciates any form of art, especially music and
likes to read about friendships and relationships then this is certainly the book for you.

Book Reviews

The Sounds Of Stars

“We are alive. A story and a song. Neither of those things can die.”
The Sound Of Stars is definitely one of my top reads of 2020.I had a major crisis when I
was left only with 100 pages. I was dreading the end of the book because I simply didn’t
want to let go of such a beautiful story. It’s set in a dystopian world ruled by aliens
where art is banned and our main character Ellie is a rebel librarian.
In terms of representation, the demisexuality snagged my heart. I love that both Ellie
and Morris had snippets of conversations about sexuality and sex while running away
from aliens. It honestly sounds laughable but I love how Alechia Dow weaved those
scenes seamlessly into her story. The Sound Of Stars shows us that consent matters in
every way. It doesn’t matter whether it is sexual in nature or a matter of invading one’s
privacy. It doesn’t matter if you’ve known someone only for a few hours or whether
you’ve shared intimate moments with them.Consent still stands. My heart swelled twice
its size every time Morris asked permission to kiss Janelle and the fact that he patiently
waited with a smile on his face, every single time that she said no.
I was also delighted to find that our heroine is black and plus-sized. These are both
descriptives that are nonchalantly imbibed into Ellie’s character and never take away
from the whole story. When they do show up in the form of discussions on race and
descriptions and brief mentions of Ellie’s body, it’s extremely well written. It’s so rare to
see plus sized main characters in sci-fi and fantasy settings so I’m delighted to see that
Ellie was written as one.
This book also puts arts under a golden spotlight. We see that Ellie is a secret librarian
who reads to ground herself and then there’s Morris who can only ever find happiness
in music. There are numerous pop references in this book and throughout the story we
just see an immense appreciation that both the characters and the author hold for arts.
Many times people don’t realise the huge impact a single song or book or painting can
have in their lives but The Sound Of Stars does a wonderful job in portraying that.
All in all, what’s not to love?

Book Reviews

The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat and Fierce

Being cooped up in your house for three months is definitely not an idyllic state and it ends up
bringing fresh waves of anxiety and stress for many. I’ve been fortunate to be quarantined at my
house with my family rather than being alone on campus. I love spending time with my family
and I absolutely adore my mom’s cooking – it’s the only thing that makes quarantine bearable.
However, everything comes with its ups and downs.
My parents mean well but being locked under the same roof with them brings on new anxieties
for me, the foremost one being their inherent fatphobia. Almost every other day my parents and
I go through a back and forth of arguments over my weight and diets and exercise, or the lack
thereof. I do my best to stand my ground, because I’ve finally come to a stage where I’m starting
to love my body, but these constant battles often wear me down.
Which is why I couldn’t have started reading The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat and
Fierce at a better time.
The (Other) F Word is a collection of stories that includes essays, poetry, prose, illustrations and
so much more by fat people from all walks of life. This book has especially been cultivated
keeping in mind teen readers with an aim to instill them with self-confidence and love for their fat bodies.

What I love the most about this book is that it’s not like any other anthologies where all the
contributors are white and straight. Instead we get to hear from diverse voices who are queer,
black, poc, disabled and come from so many different backgrounds.
A large number of these stories brought tears to my eyes because I could see myself reflected
in them. A lot of the authors talk about coming from families and societies where fatphobia was
deep-seated and thinness was the norm. The shame and anxiety surrounding fatness and the
difficult journey of loving your body described in their narratives, is what I could relate the most
to. I still struggle to love my body. Some days I feel confident and upbeat and wear crop-tops
without shame while other days I just want to hide myself under flabby oversized clothes.
Reading these beautiful stories of the journeys of self-acceptance, confidence and love fills me
with hope and pride. Pride for these people who I read about, pride for my body and pride for
every fat person on this planet. A lot of these stories were inherently love letters from the
authors to their bodies and I feel blessed to be able to read them.
Some of my favourite stories were where writing and fatness intersected. In Write Something
Fat by Sarah Hollowell we are encouraged to write fat characters. Just because we don’t see
them in stories doesn’t mean they can’t be written! This especially hit home because until
recently none of the characters I wrote about were fat because the thought honestly didn’t come
to my mind, thanks to being brainwashed about thinness being the norm. Similarly, in How to Be
a Star of Your Own Fat Rom-Com, Lily Anderson encourages fat people to see themselves as
the main character worthy of having their own love story rather than being the fat side-kick
who’s there just for gags.
Does This Poem Make Me Look Fat by Miguel M. Morales is another beautiful piece that is a
sort of waking call and of course, a play on the anxious thought a lot of fat people have.
Elephant, Hippo, and Other Nicknames I Love by Jes Baker also struck a chord because similar
to reclaiming the word fat, the author goes on to reclaim all the fatphobic nicknames she is
given, something that I’ve recently been doing in my life as well.
I finished reading this book some time ago but the sense of pride and all the emotions attached
to these stories have stayed with me till date. I also didn’t stop at reading this book and went on
to follow a lot of these fat creators on different social media platforms. Every time I see their
posts on Instagram or my Twitter feed I smile to myself. I didn’t even realise that my feeds were
lacking fat representation until I started following these beautiful people. It has all been a
therapeutic process for me, a kind of self-care.
All I can really say is that every fat person is bound to see a glimpse of themselves in at least
one of these narratives and I would especially urge fat teens to pick up this book . For me,
reading The (Other) F Word has been a stepping stone in my ongoing journey of loving my body